It’s that time of year again where love is in the air. I know most people don’t use the word “love” very often when discussing their work, but I think we should change that. So today, in honor of V-day, I’d like to share a few tips to help you fall in love with your job…again.
Why do I say “again”? Well, I’m willing to bet at some point—whether in the distant past or more recently—you actually did love your job. At one time or another, it probably held all kinds of promise and possibility. It felt exciting to get up and go to work. Maybe that feeling didn’t last longer than a day…or even an hour. But you’ve probably felt it before. Here’s how to get that loving feeling back.
Celebrate Victories (Even Small Ones)
If you’re not yet keeping a list of your professional accomplishments, it’s time to start doing so. After all, everyone enjoys work more when they feel like they’re actually making a contribution.
Of course, equally important to the task of writing your accomplishments down is the task of celebrating them.
Whenever you complete project, overcome a challenge, fix a problem, improve a process, or achieve anything else of any significance in the workplace, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. Go get a massage, treat yourself to a frozen yogurt (with extra toppings!), buy a new sweater, toast yourself at dinner that night, take a long bath while listening to jazz…you get the idea. No need to go extravagant, but do something special to recognize and reward your efforts.
Keep a Kudos Log
The workplace is hectic and, unfortunately, people don’t show their appreciation as often as most of us would like. However, when they do, take note of it. Don’t let those nice compliments and gestures of gratitude just roll off your back. Relish them! Write them down in a journal or notebook, print out “atta-boy” emails, save thank you cards, etc. That way, on those days when you’re feeling like no one notices all that you do (and there WILL be many days like that, my friend!), you can look over your notes and remember that some days things are different.
Shake Up Your Routine
Routines are at once positive and negative. On the one hand, they’re helpful tools for making sure we get everything done. They help create habits and habits make us more efficient. However, routines can also be a source of boredom. When things are always the same, life gets…well…boring. Try shaking things up every once in a while just for a change of pace. It can be something as simple as taking a new route to the office in the morning, or doing your Monday tasks on Wednesday. Maybe you can shift your schedule to arrive and leave an hour later. Just minor shifts can create a whole new perspective.
Take on New Challenges
One of the biggest reasons people fall out of love with a job is that it loses its challenge. If you think about the last time you really felt in love with your work, it was likely somewhere around the beginning. Not necessarily the first month or two—most people feel overwhelmed by all the new stuff—but just after that. Right at that point where you know what you’re doing but things are still mentally stimulating. You’re engaged. You’re focused.
After a while the routine (there it is again!) day-to-day tasks and projects can create complacency, and that can feel downright depressing. As human beings, we want to constantly be growing. We want to feel our skills and capabilities stretching. We want to go to sleep each night knowing we’re just a little bit better off than we were when we woke up. The only way to achieve that is by challenging ourselves.
Take on challenging projects and responsibilities. Volunteer to do things that scare you and push you outside your normal comfort zone. Push yourself to achieve bigger and better things each day. And remember—these opportunities don’t always just fall in your lap. They don’t appear from thin air. Go out and make opportunities for yourself.
Proactively Manage Stress
Let’s be honest: Stress is a happiness killer. It’s hard to love something that stresses you out. And yet, work by its very nature is stressful. If you don’t have a stress management plan, now is the time to create one. Don’t wait until you’re actually under a tremendous amount of stress to do this.
The big key here is that you have a system in place to help you manage stress even when you’re not experiencing it in the moment—things you do that help keep stress levels manageable day-to-day. I’m talking about things like:
- Enjoying a regular exercise routine (hooray for those feel-good mind chemicals!)
- Taking regular breaks during the workday (yes, you get things called “breaks” so you can rejuvenate and re-energize!)
- Following a reasonable, regular schedule (meaning: you leave the office at the right time…not hours later)
- Getting consistent, restful sleep at night (8 hours folks!)
- Practicing deep breathing exercises throughout the day, listening music, posting pictures of happy things in your work area, etc.
Look For the Good
I firmly believe that you find what you look for (a lesson I got from my infinitely optimistic mother). If you’re focused on everything bad about work, that’s all you’ll see. Likewise, if you’re focused on the good, you’ll see more of it everywhere you turn.
So seek out the good. Find the small things that delight you about your work—a favorite customer, a favorite task, a favorite co-worker who makes you laugh. Simple pleasures make life worth living and a job worth doing.
Remember: What you project into the world is reflected back at you…so smile, be friendly, share a joke, talk about the good stuff that exists all around you.
And before you know it, you’ll be swooning like a love struck teenager every time you walk into work!