6 ways to find joy at your job

If you’re like me, your job doesn’t excite you much. Long hours of monotonous tasks make you excited about only one thing. Leaving. Perhaps the job you’re in right now is just a stepping stone to something better. For most of us, we are working towards a career in something we’re passionate about, something we’ll enjoy doing every minute between eight and five. For others, the career choice they made is now being regretted and they want a change. But in the meantime, there is work to be done at our current jobs and there is s joy to be had in each one. Take a look at these tips to find out how you can have more satisfaction joy at work.

 Stay well rested

This may seem off topic but it’s actually very important. The job you have may not be great but your attitude toward it will help determine how much you enjoy it.  9 times out of 10 when I’m having a bad day at work, it is because I’m tired and I’d rather be sleeping. My energy often takes a downturn halfway through the day and with that also goes my attitude.

Nothing ruins motivation and mood like fatigue.

Have you ever gotten up in the middle of the night to work out? Imagine rolling out of bed, eyes still halfway shut, and doing pushups next to your bed. There would not be a single ounce of motivation inside of you to do it, and if you actually did get out of bed then you’d be questioning why that decision was made in the first place. Of course, you’ve probably never done this because sleep time and workout time are not meant to be intertwined.  They are separate for a reason and it’s the same with your job.

I used to work in the food industry. Every day at the end of my shift I felt like I got hit by a bus. I was so exhausted. But I would only hit that wall of exhaustion by the end of my shift, and it didn’t matter by that point because I was headed home to rest. At this time of my life, I was also in school. During finals week, I was up until 3 in the morning every night studying for my exams. I faced a harsh reality during this week — it was actually quite obvious but I’d just never considered it before. Two or three hours into my shifts, I would hit that wall of exhaustion. I wanted more than anything to sit down and take a break but obviously, I couldn’t do that. I still had two or three hours left on my shift.

This might have been the worst week I ever had working there. I’d go home and almost fall asleep immediately after plopping on the couch. In this specific situation, my discontent at work was caused by my lack energy which I’d already put towards studying for finals. But this wasn’t the only week I ever had like that. Other weeks, the shrinking threshold of my exhaustion window was self-inflicted, caused by staying out all night with friends or watching Netflix until I physically couldn’t stay awake. These times I could’ve easily avoided it and I certainly would’ve enjoyed my work more.

Don’t sacrifice sleep at night for a positive attitude during the workday.

Baby steps

For many people, their current job is merely an income until their dream career is attained. But a secure income stream from the wrong job is a danger to dreams. We can easily be overcome by complacency when working an everyday job– and although the work may be dissatisfying, a secure paycheck that satisfies the bills can be captivating.

If you have a dream job, do not stop working towards it until you reach it. Some days will be tougher than others; it may even seem completely out of reach sometimes. In those times, you must remember to take baby steps. Even just 10 minutes a day working towards your dream job is beneficial in the long run.

For example, say your ideal job is to be a software programmer for Google. All of your free time, saving family and recreation time should be applied towards learning more about that topic. Spend as much time as you can healthily spare — even if it’s just 10 minutes a day — learning different coding languages and mastering your skills. Not a lot of progress will be made in one week, but by week 30 your programming abilities will have developed considerably. Eventually, the skill you spent 10 minutes a day working on will become polished enough to land you a position at Google.

The time factor here is different in all situations. It could be 5 weeks or 5 years. It may be that your dream job is incredibly difficult to achieve and each step seems impossible, but remember — if you take a single step every day, eventually you will move a mile.

Be a leader

A common problem I see with those who are discontent with their work is a lack of involvement. They are disconnected with many facets, including the social aspect of their work environment. Being dedicated to a job means doing every task to the best of your ability and committing yourself to the wellbeing of the other employees. If you’ve worked with someone for months and you still don’t know them very well, there is a problem. You might think to become a leader entails more responsibilities, and maybe so. If the supervisor notices your effort they may decide to give you more daily tasks — which often comes with increased pay. Do not shy away from this, as more responsibility is always better than less in the long run. Refrain, to the best of your ability, from complaining about your job; speaking ill of your situation will only deteriorate your desire for work and cause further discontent.

Even if your work is very basic or entry level, investing in the job will undoubtedly spur your interest at least to the point where you can do your work with joy. Nobody likes a gloomy fellow employee or boss, so be the upbeat energy to the workplace that may be needed. Never pass up an opportunity to help a fellow worker in need because that will bring you the most joy.

Always give yourself something to look forward to

When working at a job where you often contemplate leaving, a great encouragement is being able to think about something you get to do when you’re off work. An incentive of some kind like seeing a movie with friends or going on a weekend trip will do wonders in raising your spirits. Some days, merely getting through the workday is an extreme task. Perhaps you would do well with daily incentives to get you through. I always found that a big weekly incentive helped provide me a better mood while I was working through a tough week.

Let me be clear, this incentive should not be the only thing that gives you any joy throughout the day — even if your job is scrubbing bathroom floors. This should simply be a motivation to get you through the toughest tasks, the lowest lows of the week.

Make yourself feel at home

If at all possible in your job, it’s a great idea to decorate your workspace with objects that reflect your personality. For example, if you love star wars, put a Darth Vader bobblehead on your desk. By personalizing your area, you create a space where you feel comfortable and can easily reflect on things you enjoy when you’re completing

a task you don’t enjoy. Always take some time out of your day, whether it’s at lunch or otherwise, to sit and think about those things surrounding your workspace. This approach isn’t necessarily about showing off your stuff to others, but rather giving yourself a sense of identity at a job that may seem to detract it.

Write it down

Throughout the workday, you may have times where you begin to feel stressed beyond your limit. Perhaps something happened that took away your joy and motivation for the day. On days like this, I encourage you to — upon getting home —  get a journal and write down everything. All of it. Just write it down and get it all out of your head. The more we dwell on negative things the more they eat away at us. Take some time — even just 10 minutes — and get it all out of your system. The anger, fear, sadness, and stress can all be expressed on a page. Writing it down gets it out of your brain’s compartment where it holds worries and stresses.

Maybe just write down something you are thankful for at work. It might be a co-worker that you enjoy being around or maybe a certain task you get to do. Find the good in your day and write it down. When you are having a tough time, go back and read what you wrote to help you lift your spirits.

Not every job will be able to apply every one of these, but try a few of them to gauge their effect on your workday. Overall, just remember to love and care for the people around you, and always count them as more significant than yourself.

Tell me in the comments about your work situation. What are you going to do about it?

Why the neighbors are just more strangers

I took a poll recently.

This poll consisted of 10 friends that I separately asked one simple question. The question was:

What is your neighbor’s name?

Seems like a fairly simple and straightforward question. If you live right next to someone, you should probably know their name, right? Well turns out only 4 out of the 10 people I asked knew their neighbor’s name, and out of those 4, none were well acquainted.

Now, this is a small sample but I’ll go ahead and surmise this data on a larger scale. House, apartment, townhome,  or otherwise, the majority of people do not know their neighbor.

Isn’t that sad?

We spend our lives, or chunks of it at least, living mere steps from people we don’t even know. It’s almost as if we are blind to them, our existences kept separate due to our smug attitudes — only to our determent though. I believe neighbors can have so much to offer each other. The truth is most of us don’t know our neighbors, and that makes them strangers.

The accident

About a year ago, there was a student at my school who died in a car accident just miles from campus. It happened in the middle of the night, but everybody found out about it the morning after. I’ll never forget the feeling I had. I walked past this guy every single day on my way to class and I never said a word to him. We had mutual friends and would see each other often but I never spoke to him. I found out later how great of a guy he was and it seems I would definitely have benefited from knowing him, but I never got out of my comfort zone enough to strike up a conversation. The morning before the accident I walked past him and didn’t even bother to say hi. I didn’t know it then but that encounter was my last chance to get to know him. To maybe learn something from him, or just be a friend.

Now, this doesn’t bother me because the guy was lonely or needed a friend or had some kind of issue. In fact, he was actually well liked by many people and had no problem being social. What really bothers me is the commonality of the situation. He isn’t the only person I walk straight by on my way to class with a nod and a half-smile. That’s the kind of relationship I have with many people, and it’s nearly worthless.

What’s your excuse?

Of course, it’s good to be polite and smile at someone walking by. I don’t always have time to talk because often times I need to get where I’m going quickly. But what about when I’m standing in line for coffee or waiting outside the classroom for the professor. What’s my excuse then?

 

Often times my excuse is introversion. I’m a shy introvert so I’m not going to speak to you unless you speak to me, and even then it will be short and shallow.

 

What a lame excuse.

Imagine there’s a person sitting alone at the picnic table next to yours. You look over and see that their hair is on fire but they don’t notice. 9 out of 10 people would probably do something in this situation. Why? Because it’s serious. His hair is on fire and he will get hurt unless you do something.

Now I’m not trying to say a stranger will be physically or emotionally hurt if you don’t speak to them, but I think we should have this mindset. Their existence is important and their well-being is serious. It is simply not enough to say hello to our neighbors in passing. We should speak to them as often as we see them because the fact is, one day they won’t be our neighbors anymore. Besides what are we losing out on by avoiding a conversation with someone? Obviously, not everyone you speak to will be your favorite person; it might even be the worst conversation ever — but don’t assume that. There is quite possibly something to gain from a relationship with the person standing next to you in line or sitting next to you at the bus station. It may be something as small as a bit of knowledge exchanged.

 

 

But I think there’s something greater to be gained here — a very specific kind of joy I find every time I give careful thought to the wellbeing of a stranger. That’s because we are meant for that kind of connection. Whether we like them or not, or whether it’s easy or not, there is a joy to be had.

So don’t speak to them in hopes of some business connection, although that is a possibility, but instead for the pure joy of loving your neighbor.

And don’t give up after the first try. Really getting to know someone takes persistence.

 

Why are we passing up opportunities to be a friend to those we meet? Are we just so complacent with our lives that we can’t even imagine an improvement? This is one area I need to do better in. I can’t see the benefit of a future relationship because I’m completely content with the friends I have now. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with being content with your friendships, but if it comes to a point where you decline meeting new people, it means you are finding your identity in friends —  and that’s never a good thing.  If you’re working on this as I am, I encourage you to take a step out.

Meet your neighbor. Say hi. You could be surprised.

And don’t worry about being the most eloquent of characters either. All you need is the right attitude and some motivation.