Do you feel like you're caught between a rock and an ergonomically incorrect office chair? In other words: do you feel stuck at your job, unable to feel both happy and successful? Well, I get it ... I’ve been there.
If you can’t find joy in the workplace, it’s easy to blame the job, the people, or the culture. Maybe your job isn’t right for you. Maybe it is. Wouldn’t you love to figure that out once and for all before you jump ship?
No matter what your career, there are 10 ways to find more joy in your 9 to 5.
1. Figure out your why.
Start with the basics. What brought you to this job in the first place? When you enjoyed it, what were you doing differently? This trip down memory lane, if guided by the right questions, creates awareness. It allows you to see what works and what doesn’t work.
Equally important, it allows you to see the difference between where you are and where you’d like to be. And ultimately, this information will help you to get clearer on what you truly want, regardless of whether or not you stay.
2. Get a good reason to stay.
Motivation can feel like a roller-coaster. But remember: your ability to push through the discomfort of staying is only as strong as your reasons to do it. So set a goal and decide what you actually want to get out of this job (and I'm talking about more than just the paycheck):
- Do you want to learn more about your field?
- Do you want to learn how to manage a team?
- Do you want to learn how to resist the office candy jar?
Whatever your goals are (big or small), find compelling reasons why they matter to you. There’s a big difference between “I want to climb the corporate ladder” and “I want to make meaningful contributions to a company that improves people’s lives.”
And if your job isn’t “saving the world” so to speak, that doesn’t mean it isn’t helping to find more time, joy, or peace. Make your reasons dramatic and sexy. If they don’t move you, nothing will.
3. Clean up your side of the street.
Your job doesn’t define you, but how you do it does. Do you really want to be the person who does a half-assed job? Or do you want to be the type of person who does a job with concern and care?
Sure, you can’t control how others act or if positive behavior gets you noticed. But your experience at your job isn’t about recognition; it’s about how you feel about what you bring to the table.
That doesn’t just apply to your assignments, but to how you interact with your coworkers. Before meetings, set an intention to be your best self. Decide ahead of time to curb your reactivity, keeping your desired goal and outcome in mind.
4. Find fulfillment.
When you are engaged and challenged, you feel fulfilled. Quit waiting for something interesting to happen. Make it happen yourself. What can you do to be more proactive? Can you ask for a more stimulating assignment? Can you negotiate some changes in your job description? Your productivity hinges on your happiness. Go ahead, ask for what you want instead of taking what you can get.
5. Get some crap out of the way.
If you’re anything like me, you find it hard to enjoy what you’re doing when you’re stressing over the piles of paper and unread emails waiting to be read. Set aside 15 minutes each day for housekeeping and organization. Breaking daunting projects into smaller tasks will help you move things from the “to do” list to the “did do” list, creating space and energy to tackle the projects you actually want to do.
6. Incorporate what you love into what you do.
Sure this is easier said than done, but you can make it happen if you begin by asking yourself some basic, but important questions: What are the things you’d be happy to do and never get paid for? What are the things that excite you?
If you enjoy being the go-to person for advice, it doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and become a therapist, it means you should include that talent in your day-to-day. And remember, your talent might not be what you do, but how you do it. For instance, a good friend of mine has the ability to break things down into logical pieces and build them back up again in a new way. His unique way of looking at things makes him successful in his career.
And if you think being competitive will increase your chances of success or happiness, think again. You’re more likely to find fulfillment if you use your talents to support others instead of tearing them down.
7. Work with people you love.
While you may not be able to change your coworkers, you can seek out people you enjoy working with. Tackle projects with those you connect with. Are there clients, companies, or donors you enjoy collaborating with? Get creative and think outside the box.
8. Get a little selfish.
Set some boundaries. Whether it’s asking people to knock before they enter or not checking your work email at home. Boundaries create sanity. Often, the thing that will allow you to love the job you have is leaving your job at the office.
9. Make self-care a priority.
This one's somewhat obvious but also commonly overlooked. At work, it's critical that you take breaks, avoid eating at your desk, and leave at a reasonable time. At home, get sleep, eat well, do things you love. These choices impact our health, happiness, and productivity.
10. Acknowledge your accomplishments.
Did a great job? Fantastic! At the end of the day, come up with one thing you did well. Self-validation is the key to self-fulfillment.
Ultimately, if you decide to love your job, you’ll love it. If you decide to hate it, you’ll hate it. It comes down to choice. Which will you choose?
Download Amita’s Free Worksheet “How To Conquer Fear & Overwhelm," and start creating a life you love on your own terms!
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