It used to be easy to leave a job you didn’t love and find a new one quickly, but unfortunately it isn’t so easy anymore. Even the people who do find new jobs or make radical career changes aren’t always happier after the switch. Perhaps the answer to being happy in your work isn’t finding a new job, but learning to love the one you have now.
Ups and downs in work are completely normal, even for people who are generally happy with their jobs. No matter what job you take, you will have rough times. However, in the end we determine our own happiness, and loving your job starts with you.
It’s easy to go on Facebook, look at pictures of everyone else’s perfect lives, and get down about your own. But here’s a secret: people tend to only post their best moments on social media. It may seem like everyone you know loves their job and is just living the dream, but guaranteed they have hard days, weeks, or even months at work too.
Keep in mind that work is work! Even people who “love” their jobs would often times rather be at a party with friends than working on that big project. Work takes effort and is not always fun, which is why you get paid to do it. However, you can still have enjoyable moments and fulfilling days doing your job.
On the hard days, remember that EVERYONE has their rough moments at work. No job is completely perfect, and no one’s life is always smooth sailing. It’s ok to have a bad day, or even a lot of bad days. Just do what you can to make the good days happen too.
Look for the positives
While it’s true there are downsides to every job, it’s not ever all bad. Every job has it’s positives, they just need to be identified. Do you enjoy the people you work with? Are you helping people through your work? Are there certain perks that you like? Do you have a good schedule? Is this a job that will give you the experience you need to progress in your career?
Focus on whatever is going well at your job, and build your attitude off of those positives. The outlook you choose to indulge in will flourish in your mind. If you are constantly thinking about all the bad, a negative outlook will become habit and things will only seem to get worse and worse. On the flip side, if you are always looking for the positive, it will get progressively easier to find the good.
Try this exercise: For a week, record every time you have a positive thought at work. If you have a clicker that could keep track for you, click it every time you think positively. If you don’t, keep a tally on a piece of paper. Chances are each day you do this, you will have more positive thoughts. Why? Because when you are looking for the good, you learn to see it more easily, and it becomes habit.
Make your office an enjoyable place to be
Obviously you can’t change everything about your job, but there are some things that you could do to make work more enjoyable in the day-to-day. If you don’t already, get to know your coworkers and develop friendships with them. It’s much more enjoyable to spend hours every day with friends than with strangers.
Do you have your own work space? First, organize everything you have. Coming to work everyday to a pile of papers on your desk, an inbox full of unsorted and unread emails, and drawers overflowing with who knows what, will only bring you down. Take the time to go through everything and have a clean, organized space so you don’t feel the burden of working in a mess. Second, make your space a nice place to be! Add a few personal touches like pictures of your family, a plant, or knick knacks from travel. Whatever could make you happier to be there!
Ask for reasonable changes to be made
Depending on your job, there might be some things you could negotiate or ask your boss to change that would make a big difference in your work experience. Maybe it would be helpful to work with different people sometimes. Try requesting to be teamed up with coworkers you don’t usually work with on upcoming projects, or ask for opportunities to collaborate with people you already know you get along with. If it’s a possibility, maybe you would like being transferred to a different team or department. Sideways shifts might be easy to work out, and could be just the change you need to make work more enjoyable.
If you are in a position where you feel you aren’t compensated or appreciated for the time and effort you have put in to your job, maybe it’s time to ask for a raise. Learn how to go about asking here.
You could also discuss negotiating changes in your job description with your boss. Perhaps the work you are assigned to do could be adjusted in some ways if you feel that you are overwhelmed or unchallenged. Brainstorm changes that would benefit both you and the company. Even if nothing can be changed right now, letting your boss know what you’re thinking could open his eyes to possible changes made available in the future.
Make the most of your time outside of work
Don’t feel like your job is your whole life. It’s not! Making the most of your free time can lighten the load you feel when you are at work. It’s easy to go home at the end of an 9-hour shift and veg in front of the TV until bedtime, just to wake up and do it all over again. Instead, make your time off quality by spending it with friends and family, doing hobbies, serving others, and going outside. Exercising and eating healthy foods will lift your spirits, give you more energy, and help you avoid feeling sluggish. Do things that will lift your spirits and remind you there’s much more to life than work.
Determine why you do your job
Knowing exactly why you do your job can help you stay focused, have greater job satisfaction, and make you feel more in control. Are you saving up for a house? Are you getting the experience you need with this job so you can work your way up to what you want to do long-term? Do you believe in the product or service that you sell and want to help others with it? Whatever the reasons, write them down and look at them frequently. Having a sense of purpose in what you do will help improve your attitude.
It likely won’t happen in one day, but with a little time and effort you can make your job something you truly enjoy.