I recently attended some professional networking events where people shared about what led them to being really happy at their current employers and in their roles. None of it was necessarily rocket science but it prompted me to take note of not only the common threads between the speakers but also what works for me and share it with you guys. I enjoy a funny work meme as much as the next girl but they’re not my reality. We spend too much of our time at work not to get a good return on that investment. The point of this post is to help you position yourself for less stressful working hours and a healthy work/life balance because why be miserable 40+ hours a week?
Self awareness is key.
Firstly, let’s acknowledge that sometimes, we are strictly working for a check. I’ve definitely been there before. Not everyone has the privilege of considering enjoyment and fulfillment as factors of their employment. Whether or not you fall into this category, it’s paramount to know yourself–what drives you, what’s important to you, the difference between your preferences and your requirements. A strong sense of self makes it easier to know when a situation (like a job) is truly helping us get to where we want to be. It’s also important to recognize the stage you’re in. Are you in a developmental role that serves as a stepping stone? Do you need to be in a specific location for the time being? Etc.
For me, gratitude is a practice and way of life. I made a conscious decision one day to find a way to give thanks no matter what and this habit has served me well. Upon waking each morning, the first thing I do is say “Thank you.” What does this have to do with being happy at work? It helps provide perspective. Simply having a job is something to be thankful for and when you get into the layers of your specific work life (working indoors, in a developed country, free of hazardous conditions, with benefits and perks, the means to reliably get to work each day, etc.) you can’t help but feel better and better about it.
Have a life outside of work.
This is easier said than done but so important. It’s very easy to fall into an all work and no play pattern because work can be tiring and, unless you’re a reality TV personality, having a social life doesn’t pay the bills. When you have interesting and fulfilling things going on outside of work, your mood won’t be so tied to how things go when you’re there. Invest time in your personal relationships, travel, cultivate hobbies and find an outlet. Work life balance doesn’t look the same at every point in your life or even at every point during your workweek but it should exist on some level.
Some industries, companies, or roles are very demanding by nature. But sometimes, we just make things harder on ourselves by not speaking up or spinning our wheels in order to seem in-expendable. Set and clearly communicate things like your working hours (when you are and are not available) and capabilities (don’t lie on your resume), and ask for help when you need it. This isn’t an invitation to underachieve and, of course, things will come up that require flexibility but if you don’t guard your own time and properly manage expectations, mentally draining days can quickly become the norm rather than an exception. Today’s exception becomes tomorrow’s expectation.
If you read all of this and realize that you are that miserable girl in the office because you just hate what you do, where you do it, or how, remember that you have the power to change your life. It’s never too late to switch fields (more on how to do that here), further your education, or maybe change locations. Every day, we see people successfully challenging the conventions that once defined what is possible. And you don’t have to necessarily quit your job. You can launch a business or passion project on the side. I happen to enjoy my field (human resources) but Dash of Jazz provides an outlet for me to learn, grow, and share skills that aren’t necessarily utilized in my nine to five.
To be clear, even the most fulfilling work that is well-aligned with your passions and strengths will test you. It will keep you up late and frustrate you, at times. But enduring unhappiness shouldn’t be part of the equation. Only God knows what our lives will look like over time and He certainly wants us to have joy infused into each area–not just the weekends! For more free game, check out these corporate health hacks. As always, thanks for reading!