Think it’s impossible to be happy at a job you can’t stand? Think again.
So yeah, your job pays the bills, but it doesn’t exactly give you the warm and fuzzies. Maybe you’re working your way up the ladder or haven’t decided which ladder you want to climb – either way, you’re not alone.
According to Gallup’s “State of The Global Workplace” report, roughly 1 in 4 people are “actively disengaged” in their work (meaning they’re unhappy and unproductive, and likely spread this negativity amongst their coworkers).
Even though we’ve always been soul mates, my writing career and I didn’t click until my late twenties, which meant taking jobs along the way to avoid living out of a shopping cart (some soul-crushing, some not-bad-could-be-better). I’m not going to lie: There were days when I was unbearable to be around – so much so, I wanted to break up with myself.
What made it that much harder was knowing there was no sense in talking about it. After all, you’re not “supposed” to like your job. That’s why it’s called a job (and if we all had a nickel for every time we’ve heard this, we’d all retire and there’d be no point to this article). My philosophy is: If you want to find a better job or go after an impossible career, then you should do it. Period. But first you have to survive the job you’re in (you know, without bathing with a toaster).
Here are just some of the strategies you can use to be happy at that pesky job of yours while navigating the minefield of finding your niche:
1. Think of your workday in installments
Don’t look at your workday as an 8-hour, mind-rotting extravaganza. Instead, break your day down into chunks and deal with one chunk at a time. Mindfulness makes the day go that much faster.
2. Decorate your office
Make your workspace a calm and orderly environment. Include items that not only inspire you now, but also cater to who you want to become in the future.
Confession: I used to smoke (I know, shame on me). While I don’t miss the whole smelling like an ashtray thing, I do miss the ritual of smoking. It was five whole minutes where I wouldn’t multitask, I wouldn’t stress about 50 things at the same time – I would just be. Take “smoke breaks” without the smoking. Find five-minute pockets throughout your day and do something relaxing: Have a coffee, take a short walk, do anything to periodically get away from the unrelenting sense of urgency.
4. Develop a social circle
No matter how cruddy the job, there are fabulous people who are dealing with the cruddiness right alongside you. Form a wolf pack and help each other survive the monotony.
5. Just ask
Are there ways you feel your job could be improved, or tasks you feel someone else would be more equipped to handle? Be honest with your boss and see if you can find a compromise. As much as we might think so, our bosses don’t want us to be miserable (just make sure you phrase your requests by focusing on what’s in it for them, not you).
6. Don’t rush
The ironic thing about rushing is that it takes twice as long to do things than if you were to take your time. Don’t say yes to everything and overextend yourself, but don’t say no to everything and end up feeling even more unfulfilled than you already do. Step outside of your comfort zone just enough to keep things interesting, but not so much you’re overwhelmed. However much you do, always do it well.
7. Accept your coworkers for who they are
No matter where you work, there’s always that one person who makes it impossible to be happy with your job: When they’re there, the office seems that much dimmer. The weather that much cloudier. Even your salad wilts in their presence. It’s tempting to try and fix them, but in letting go of the baggage that makes them the way they are, you’ll find them a lot easier to tolerate (Xanax works too – kidding!). Refuse to let them in your bubble.
8. Create your own incentives
So your boss pulled an “Office Space” and now you’re stuck working the weekend. Use the overtime money to buy yourself something pretty. That’s an order.
9. Reframe how you look at your job
Take the things you don’t like doing, and think about how they contribute to what you love doing. For example, I can’t stand grocery shopping, but grocery shopping leads to healthy eating, which leads to not feeling like crap, which leads to me being alert enough to write snazzy articles for ya’ll. But grocery shopping on its own, with no clear purpose other than I have to or I’ll starve – well, it gives me hives.
10. Trust yourself
You have full control over your life. Trust in your ability to make your job work for you, not against you. If you know you can do better elsewhere, trust in your ability to find elsewhere. If the odds are stacked against you, trust in your ability to pull a “Jerry Maguire.” You have the survival instincts to make it happen – you just need to use them.
How do you amp up your happiness at work?
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Image: mark sebastian