“The law of work seems unfair, but nothing can change it; the more enjoyment you get out of your work, the more money you will make.” ~Mark Twain
"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." ~Aristotle
Part of human nature is to get dissatisfied with the status quo. That job you couldn’t wait to get to every morning during the first month after you were hired, for some mysterious reason becomes the job you curse at yourself for driving to after two years. While there are a lot of reasons why people fall out of love with their jobs that they can’t control, there are just as many (if not more) that they do have some control over. To put it succinctly:
Loving your job is a choice
It’s a choice because we can take actions to at least stem the tide of the things that cause us to dislike the job. And it goes beyond just “choosing your attitude” as every self-help guru states. There are a number of specific things that you can do that effect your surroundings, the job itself, as well as your own outlook. So let’s take a look at those.
Broaden your focus – There are plenty of duties and tasks you perform that you enjoy. There are also aspects of the job that you enjoy. What happens much of the time is that you start seeing the “negative” in certain aspects of your job and pretty soon it’s all that you notice that you are doing. Spend some time focusing on the tasks you enjoy and the aspects of the job you like, and you can put a halt to this cycle.
Avoid the “water cooler” talk – If you want to love your job you need to stop hanging around people who hate their jobs. You know who they are. They are the people that can be counted on to find the dark cloud in every silver lining. No matter how positive you are, almost everyone has limits to how well they can hold up under a barrage of negativity. You don’t need to avoid them, just find limits. Your enjoyment of your work demands it.
Break up the routine – Challenges, new projects, different workflows. If you want to feel excited and energized about your work, then you need to break out of the routine. The routine is predictable, secure … and boring. It can be as simple as taking some breaks occasionally to get out of your desk, but the biggest rewards come with the biggest risk when you raise your hand to volunteer or ask your boss for that new project. We like to feel growth and accomplishment and if we aren’t getting any of that it’s tough to feel any passion.
Mind your workspace – If you want to love your job, make sure that you get as much enjoyment out of your workspace as possible. Two things that jump right out are to declutter your desk regularly and to add some personalization. Just like it is nice to have your home clean and organized, your workspace (and by way of that your work) is always nicer when it isn’t a mess. Just straightening it once a week can have a huge impact on how it looks and feels. Add to that a few personalization touches like family or inspirational photos and you have a space you can enjoy coming to every day.
Laugh more – Whether it is exchanging jokes or checking out that funny Youtube video with a co-worker at lunch or laughing at your last mistake, try to take the edge off of the seriousness at work. Finding ways to have more fun cuts through the dreariness and recharges you for those tasks you don’t enjoy.
Improve outside of work – You have undoubtedly had times where what happens in your personal life has a negative effect on work life. Well, the same thing can happen with positive things as well (and I bet that if you thought about it you’d find it’s happened to you many times). If you are having a tough time enjoying work, try working to cultivate your hobbies and enjoyment outside of work. Work/life balance is meant to keep our life vibrant as well as our work, not in spite of our work.
Gratitude – Cultivating a spirit of thankfulness for what you have will help fight back that sense of complacency that can slowly erode our appreciation of what we have. Find just one thing every day to be thankful for on the car-ride into work. It can be the job itself, the friends you have made at work, the lessons you have learned (good and bad), and the skills you have developed. There was a time you were thrilled to have this job, get back in touch with some of the thoughts you had back then.
Talk to your boss about how you feel – One of the best places to go when you are feeling a little “blah” about the job is your boss. While they aren’t usually who you would want to go to as a shoulder to cry on or to vent, they can be a great resource for new duties, inspiration and information. One of the things that many people don’t realize is how much their lack of understanding of how the organization is doing and where it is going effects their mood. In the information age we don’t like unknowns. When you communicate with your boss, you will find answers to questions that you didn’t know that you had.
Ask what happens if you aren’t there – It’s hard to feel loved if you aren’t valued. Want to give a boost to your sense of self-importance? Ask yourself what would happen to the organization if you just disappeared one day? Detailing out how vital you are to the organization can lift your spirits and give you a profound sense of self-worth, which helps set the foundation for enjoyment and appreciation.
Set goals – We are almost all happier when we are working towards a goal. Setting daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals can give you a sense of accomplishment when you otherwise wouldn’t have it. Goals track progress and growth as well as focusing our efforts. Ever find that the day just flies by when you get focused on something? Goals can help regain that feeling.
Look for the newbies – Newly hired employees are a wonderful resource for the organization and the team. One of the often overlooked reasons is that they are full of energy and positivity towards the opportunity they have just been given. Spending time around them can be the “kryptonite” to the “water cooler” crowd. If you want to kick it up a further notch, volunteer to be a mentor for them. Giving back to others always provides a sense of accomplishment and gives you the satisfaction of helping to shape the department. So run to help the new hires, they might help you out even more.
Everybody goes through those times when they dislike, or even hate, their jobs. There’s nothing wrong with that IF you look to take charge with some of the steps listed above. If after trying all of this you still can’t fall back in love with your job (and that’s a pretty big IF considering the positive effect of many of the things listed above), only then would I advise looking elsewhere. You owe it to yourself to give your current job a shot, but you owe it to yourself even more to take charge of your happiness. And if you can’t find it at your current workplace, well …