Can’t yet have the job you love? Well, here are some ways to love the job you’re with.
We all want to love our jobs, or at least to like them.
Sometimes, however, we find ourselves in employment situations that are, shall we say, less than optimal. Ultimately, you may need to find a new job, but until that time, there is quite a bit you can do to improve your old job.
Find a work buddy. A key contributor to on-the-job happiness is working with people you enjoy. So strike up a conversation with that pleasant person down the hall. Practice random acts of kindness. Look for opportunities to find common ground. Join the lunchtime bridge game or go out for after-work softball. The good vibes you get from positive relationships will make your workday go faster and better, and may lead you to actually like your job more.
Change your routine. If your problem is that the thrill is gone, that you feel stale at work, it might help to change up your routine. Even if the system you currently have works well, mixing things up can improve both your attitude and skills. If your routine is totally out of your control, try varying your commute to work every day, changing your lunch habits, or reorganizing your workspace. All these can build productivity and lower stress.
Work harder. It sounds counterintuitive — why bust your chops at a job you don’t care for? — but a lot of happiness finds its roots in a sense of accomplishment and mastery. Being the go-to person, the “one who knows,” can be tremendously satisfying and happy-making. You can also ask for more responsibility, because new challenges are always energizing and good for the morale.
Seek out ways to specialize. Every job involves parts we enjoy and parts we don’t. You can enhance the enjoyment portion by doing those things you like more thoroughly and creatively (while of course continuing to slog through the bits you don’t like). Who knows? You may become so known for your “specialties” that your boss assigns you more of those fun (to you) tasks.
Finally, try to start out and end each day on a positive note. Don’t neglect exercise. Avoid multitasking. Remember that the perfect is the enemy of the good. And try not to obsess over things you can’t control.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.