We have lots of reasons for choosing the work we do. Sometimes it might even be our first choice that gives us deep joy and satisfaction every day. At other times we make decisions based on family values, convenience, locality, a step on the way to something greater, or it’s the first thing that comes up that pays the bills. It may have just seemed like a good idea at the time.
Even our first career choice may come with an unhappy workplace that’s a bad cultural fit or involve lots of daily travel. Just as there are lots of reasons that a chosen career may have nuisance factors incorporated in it, so also there may be very positive characteristics about work that may not be our first or even tenth choice.
Personally, I have experienced being a really bad fit for a job I had as a student during the summer break sorting eggs in an egg distribution company. I kept dropping and breaking eggs. Needless to say, I was asked not to come back. Later I experienced being a perfect fit as a counsellor in a wonderful workplace, then when I moved with the family to a different location I wasn’t so fortunate. I loved the work but not the workplace.
So what I have learned through a mixture of experience and training is that there is a lot we can do to mould our experience. We have more power than we might think. Here are my top seven suggestions:
1. Find another job. Okay, that’s the obvious one, right? If you are a really bad fit in your current position it might be the best solution. I was a much better fit as a telephonist-receptionist fielding telephone and in-person customer enquiries than I was processing eggs. But often staying where you are and developing more positive strategies can be a better idea. If you still need to look for other work you will have learned some great strategies for increasing your resilience, job satisfaction, and perseverance.
2. Have more positive emotions. Smile a lot, show kindness towards others, notice positive moments and make a point of recalling good things that happen, especially when someone has made a positive contribution, and jump in with both feet. Find humour in everyday situations, but not at the expense of others.
3. Engage more in everything. Instead of living and working on the fringe of life find activities that are absorbing. Volunteer for activities that allow you to use more of your strengths. Learn more about them, you might even become the expert. Strive to get better at what you do, one small step at a time.
4. Nurture relationships now, in simple ways. Offer support to someone who might be new in their job, who might be overwhelmed or just really busy. Refuse to participate in gossip unless it’s the positive kind, like noticing when someone does something well. Offer genuine compliments. It’s easy to notice when an error has been made, but it’s so much more satisfying to notice and comment when things go well. Make time for the important people in your life. Face to face contact is best, and brief friendly phone calls ace impersonal text or social media messages.
5. Make your time more meaningful. It doesn’t matter what work you do, whether it’s prestigious or a supporting role, the job exists for a purpose. Recognise what that purpose is and it’s importance in the greater scheme of things. Instead of just working for a pay packet, you will be an important cog in the wheel of your industry.
6. Work on your attitude – practice something. Are you a complainer or do you see the good around you? Even though we get into bad habits sometimes, if we develop awareness of our day to day thinking we can make small adjustments that not only help our happiness levels, we become nicer to be around. It’s true that life constantly throws challenges at us and major life events can unsettle us, but they don’t have to define us. We can dust ourselves off and rise to meet another day, with a little help from our friends.
7. Make positive health habits – easy ones to do. The three big factors are good sleep, healthy food, and exercise. 7-9 hours of quality sleep every day, good food with a balance of fresh fruit and veggies, protein, fats and carbs in a healthy proportion, and regular exercise. Pick one thing and make a small sustainable change for the better.
It might not be possible to factor in every point in your day to day work especially if you are missing parts, but making small changes including in family and recreation can lead to greater levels of work and life satisfaction.
What’s one small change you can make?
Are you looking forward to starting each day with enthusiasm and energy? Let’s get you past being stuck. Make a Career Booster Call now.