Have you ever been around coworkers who constantly complain about work? I know I have.
Let me ask you another question.
Has being around other coworkers who speak negatively about work make you speak negatively about work, too?
It’s OK if you have. We’ve all been there.
The other day I was listening to a TEDRadio Hour podcast episode about work. The gist of it was that unfortunately, most people don’t actually enjoy their work; they simply do it to pay the bills. If you can relate, has this mindset made you feel trapped at work? Do you feel like you can’t leave or that you’ll never find a job that’s satisfying?
Don’t get me wrong. I know most people have to work, and somebody’s gotta do the less popular jobs. But does that mean that you have to hate your job?
I’m not here to make life decisions for you. But I do want to encourage you to let your mindset shift to something more positive when it comes to going to work each day.
If you can’t stand your job…
I remember when I got my first full-time job. I was so excited to just be there even though I made almost half what I make now, and I could barely afford all my expenses. But I knew that working full-time meant I was one step closer to where I wanted to be in life.
We’ve all had nightmarish jobs, but I can guarantee no matter where you work now, there is one thing you can appreciate about it. Maybe you hate your job but at least it’s close to your residence. Or you love your coworkers but your job can be a little mundane.
If you’re out of luck, think back on why you took the job. Out of all the places you submitted an application to, why did you pick that one? Something had to have appealed to you.
Remember that reason and write it down in your career journal, perhaps.
Now, if you got the job for the wrong reasons, think about the process it took for you to be where you are now — in a positive way. Know that money is never a good reason to take any job if you want to be satisfied with your work. I took plenty of jobs in college because I just wanted money or experience, and it took me years to really figure out what I wanted out of a job.
If you lack motivation…
Are you one of the hardest workers, yet you get little to no reward? I’ve been there, and it’s certainly frustrating. How did I solve the problem? Well, I took the easy way out; I bided my time and then moved on to something new.
But if you want to stay at your company, have a talk with your boss about your responsibilities and your pay. It might be nerve-wracking, but you’ll have a better idea about where you stand with the company after having that conversation. If they want to keep you, they will find a compromise. If not, you may have to cut your losses and say goodbye.
No one wants to work without motivation.
If your work is mundane and boring…
This makes me think back to the U.S. Industrial Revolution, where there were so many factories and people would work on an assembly line doing the same thing over and over again. If you can relate, I challenge you to divvy up your time spent at work into smaller time windows.
For example, let’s say you work in a cubicle and are basically sitting at your computer or answering a phone all day long.
You most likely have tasks you have to complete. But in those moments where you have nothing to do, you can give yourself work so you aren’t wasting your afternoon looking at the clock.
Need some suggestions?
- Clean up and organize your desk for 10 minutes.
- Walk around the building to get some exercise for 15 minutes.
- Listen to a podcast, if it doesn’t distract you from work. Depending on how long the podcast is, this could take up a good chunk of time.
- Jot down your goals for the week for 5 minutes.
- Take a mental break by taking a few deep breaths for 5 minutes.
- Have you moved or changed names recently? Make sure your personal information is up to date. This could take about 5 minutes.
- Is your inbox out of control? Take time to delete the unimportant emails taking up space. This could take up 15 minutes of your time.
- Read any meeting notes or memos you ignored the last few days, and respond to emails you forgot to reply to.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed…
Maybe you have the opposite problem. You have too many tasks and not enough time or resources to complete them, thus making you work inefficiently. This is not an uncommon problem, especially if you work for a nonprofit or small, startup company. Maybe your employer doesn’t have the money to hire new people, so you’re stuck with a large workload. Does this sound like you?
If so, you need to consider the future of the company and whether you see yourself there. But know that this overwhelming season could be just that — a season that will pass once some projects get done or more money gets invested. You will have to ask yourself if it’s worth waiting or if you should work somewhere else. Of course, there’s always the chance that your new place of work could have the same issue.
In the meantime, while you’ve still got to handle the day-to-day, try to divide your tasks into what’s absolutely most important and what could wait until tomorrow or the end of the week. Sometimes the culprit of being overwhelmed is that you get scatterbrained and lose focus from the important tasks to complete smaller ones that don’t matter as much.
To-do lists are great, but I’ve found that focusing on one task for the day makes me feel more accomplished. Why? Because I’m not beating myself up over not checking everything off my list. You could use this same philosophy at work, within reason. Focus on getting the one big task done before moving onto the smaller tasks.
Do you see the different ways we can view work negatively? There are so many factors that play a role in our everyday lives in the workplace. But just remember that no matter what, your job or salary doesn’t define you. If you want to do something worthwhile, you can always do volunteer work on your off days or find a hobby that inspires you. Having a job is great, but you may not find fulfillment from it all the time, and that’s OK. Find fulfillment in other things, and make sure work isn’t your whole life.
I hope this post has inspired you to approach your job differently. Have any thoughts? Comment below!