Most of us will, at some point, find that we are lacking fulfillment in our everyday working lives. Some people may decide that moving to a new job is the only solution to this, but there are a variety of ways that we can make work more enjoyable using only our minds.
If you are not satisfied in your job, try one or more of the following techniques and learn how to find contentment day in, day out.
1. Don’t Equate Work With Life
No matter how many hours you work, it is essential that you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that work equals life and vice versa. It does not.
Life is a rich and vivid tapestry; one that we all experience regardless of where in the world we live, or how much money we have. There’s no doubting that, for some of us, work can take up a significant amount of our time. Each of us will, however, enjoy a whole range of other activities either by ourselves or with those people who are important to us.
So, when you are at work, wishing you were somewhere else, remind yourself that while it may not be the most pleasant part of your day, work enables you to enjoy the rest of the time you have more fully and freely. Work is a part of life – it is not all that life has to offer.
2. Focus On the Things You Do Enjoy About Your Job
Unless you are extremely lucky, there are going to be things about your job that you do not like. Maybe there are certain tasks that you find tedious or colleagues who get on your nerves; it’s almost inevitable to get frustrated at times.
However, the danger of concentrating on these things is that you end up with a negative narrative regarding your job.
Do the opposite, however, and you can generate a more positive view of your working life. Try to make a list of all the things that you enjoy about work and reflect on each item on that list at least once a day.
Maybe you are allowed to listen to music while you work, or perhaps your company offers flexible hours so you can pick up your kids from school. Do you socialize with some of your workmates at lunch or are you given staff discounts and other perks?
Focusing on the pros of your current role can make each day that bit more enjoyable by shrinking the negative feelings associated with the cons.
3. Recognize The Part You Play In The Success Of Your Company
One of the biggest causes of dissatisfaction with working life is that you don’t feel important as an individual employee. This can occur in both big and small companies, but it needn’t impact your enjoyment if you take a different perspective.
If you actually stop to consider your role for a moment, the thing to remember is that you are being paid to do what you do. The company you work for wouldn’t dream of such a thing unless you added value to the business.
Whether you work on the checkout of a supermarket, or pick vegetables on a farm, you are an essential cog in the overall machine that is your company. Adopting this viewpoint can shed a positive light on what might otherwise seem a thankless task.
4. Find Meaning In Your Job
The topic of meaning is a huge one – there are entire books written about finding meaning in a range of things from work to love to life. We’re going to focus on a couple of key principles that will hopefully act as a gateway to further exploration of this subject.
First up, let’s explore where meaning comes from. Viktor Frankl, one of the brilliant thinkers and authors of the 20th century, suggests that meaning can be discovered in two main ways: through the people you love and through causes you feel passionately about.
You may, then, consider the meaning in your work to be that of providing for you and your family. If you don’t have a family, then maybe you are proactively preparing for a future where you envisage having one. Either way, having an understanding of this can give you the motivation and determination to get on in your job.
Alternatively, you may work in a low paid role, but for a company or organization whose goals and values align with your own. If you truly believe in the cause being pursued, a quick reminder of this when you’re feeling disengaged with work can help subdue the negative feelings and turn them into positive ones.
A second way that you might look for meaning in your job is to hone in on the little things that can make a difference to the people you meet, or society in general.
Maybe you work in a bank or a customer service call center; if you can raise a smile from a customer or make them feel satisfied in some other way, you should be able to find meaning in this.
Or are you a police officer who faces demanding situations on a regular basis? You might find it incredibly stressful at times, but just remember the good that you provide to society, the people you make feel safe, and the rights that you help protect.
There is no job in the world in which it is not possible to feel a sense of pride. A job that is done well is a job to be proud of, and it doesn’t matter what it is. Too often people are made to feel ashamed of their job because it is not seen as ambitious or important, but this is a problem with society and something in which there is no truth whatsoever.
A bartender or waitress might appear, on the surface, to be a job of little consequence, but when you serve someone, you become one of the most important people in their lives, albeit temporarily. They want to enjoy a nice evening and a part of that is a friendly welcome and efficient service; you are the one to facilitate this and you should be proud when customers leave satisfied.
Similarly, a street cleaner may not consider his or her job to be anything to shout about, but a well maintained town or city is something that the residents will appreciate which makes it something to be incredibly proud of.
6. Understand How This Job Fits In With Your Journey
You may not envisage yourself working in your current job for the rest of your life and this is fine, but if you can understand the importance of it in the context of your life journey, it can make it far more enjoyable.
Normally we’d tell people to be in the present moment as much as possible, and generally this applies to work too. Looking to the future is, however, a healthy thing to do from time to time and it can allow you to see how your current job might fit into the longer term path that you are walking.
You might be building up experience or skills that will help propel you to the position you desire most, or it might be giving you the financial freedom to spend some time off travelling in the near future.
A job can be for life, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. No matter how long you stay in a role, you will take something from it before continuing on your way. Even if you end up leaving a job because none of the tips here can make it enjoyable, you have learned a valuable lesson as to what type of job doesn’t suit you.
7. Put Yourself In The Shoes Of Others
Dissatisfaction rooted in relationships and interactions with other people is common, whether with a manager, a subordinate or a customer. Clashes of this type cannot always be avoided, but there are ways to lessen the negative impact they have on you.
The most effective of these is to put yourself in the position of the other person – to see things through their eyes, to think the way they do, and feel the things they feel – as this gives you greater understanding and leads to a more compassionate response.
Practice is certainly required to achieve this, but the more regularly you do so, the fewer downbeat thoughts you’ll have about your work relationships and the job in general. Eventually, you should start to feel empowered by your new found knowledge. You’ll learn that it can improve the environment you find yourself working in, and it can have benefits for the other person too.
8. More Haste, Less Speed
Feeling rushed is another of the big causes of unhappiness in the workplace and it often makes us less well organized and less effective as employees. Generally, it is better to spend time doing something right than to rush through it; otherwise you’ll only have to go back and address any errors you made or things you overlooked.
Rather than try to do a million things at once because you feel under pressure to do so, prioritize the most important tasks and ensure that you do them, one by one, to the best of your ability.
Managers can often be a hindrance rather than a help and communication is the key to overcoming this. Of course, you might want to accommodate the requests being made of you, but if you cannot realistically complete everything to the standard required, and in the time given, then it is essential that you make this known.
Doing things well leads to the pride that we spoke about earlier; it can also increase the meaning you find in work and thus your enjoyment of the day-to-day activities.
9. Be Grateful
You may not be particularly fond of your job, but if you can allow yourself to be grateful for it – and all of the things it brings – then you’ll find it easier to go through the day with a smile on your face.
Aside from the monetary benefits, your job can bring friendship, laughter, a sense of purpose and meaning, and much more besides. If you think about it, being unemployed would almost certainly leave you feeling less happy, so being thankful for your job can make it more enjoyable all by itself.
The Conscious Rethink: work can be problematic at times – we’d never pretend otherwise – and it’s only natural for it to get you down on occasion. But with the right set of mind techniques, you should be able to minimize the negatives and maximize the positives. Work is a part of being human, but it is not the whole part, so don’t let it be.