You’re reading Here, Try This – our month-long plan encouraging you to try something new every day.
Whether you’ve been in your job six years or six months, it’s normal to find yourself stuck in a bit of a rut – especially in the times we’re living.
Often, the obvious choice if you’re unhappy is to find a new job – and perhaps that’s the best decision for you. But sometimes, our lack of joy in work is down to other factors: our mood outside of work, our inability to speak up about what we want, poor communication with co-workers, or a lack of motivation.
Perhaps you do want to find a new job – but it isn’t a possibility right now. How, then, can we re-energise ourselves and find positivity in our work, day-to-day?
Occupational therapist, Maria Paviour, says one way to do this is to start each day with a ‘bend’ – that is, a brief emotional non-verbal display – to ground yourself and connect your brain into all the things you actually do love about your job. “This changes your brain chemistry and gets you into a state of happiness before you even begin,” she says. “So, try jumping up and down, running on the spot or having a good dance before you start work – you will have a change in brain chemistry and feel totally different.”
Career coach Tracy Short says the better you feel about your job, the better it gets. She suggests getting yourself in the right mindset for your working day before you even start. If you wake up worrying, try morning pages, she advises, the idea of writing down your thoughts as they come to you in a short journalling exercise. Or, she says, you could stretch out on your yoga mat.
You should also prioritise your colleagues, says Paviour. “The thing that makes work best is relationships – these have a six times greater impact on your wellbeing and happiness than the work alone,” she says, “so if your relationships are good, you can cope better under stress.
“Make sure you get some eye-to-eye time with a colleague – this boosts your oxytocin levels and makes you feel better, like a virtual hug, and it also changes your emotional state to positive and energised.”
Another tip is to remind yourself of the bigger purpose. “Connect with the organisation’s mission – the real one,” says Paviour.
“What are you doing every day that makes a difference in the world? That means standing back from the job you do and seeing it as an important part of the whole – when we see where we fit in the jigsaw it shows others where they fit too, and we become part of something profound.”
Tristram Hooley, professor of career education and head of the International Centre for Guidance Studies encourages people to take pride in their work – and recognise others. “We feel better about our work when we are doing it well,” he says. “Try and recognise when you’ve done something well and tell your manager or colleagues that you’re proud of what you’ve done.
“They will probably agree with you and this will lift your mood. Just as important reach out and congratulate people for things that they’ve done well. Together you can create a cycle of positivity.
“We feel better about our work when we are doing it well.”
Hooley also suggests thinking, or brainstorming, about developing your career in the job you’re in. “In the current environment it can be difficult to think forward and imagine a better future,” he says, “but, your career is still progressing, even under Covid.
“Think about where you want to go next, talk to your boss or a trusted colleague, take a course or engage in a voluntary opportunity. Actively taking control of your career and your future will make you feel much better.”
Inject some fun into goal setting at work, adds Short. “Ever set your own KPIs?” she asks. “We all know how end-of-year reviews can feel like you’re ‘ticking boxes’. How about giving yourself a review, setting your personal goals, create a vision board, map out your dreams, give yourself rewards and put more fun and joy into what you do. Your boss won’t do that for you but you can.”
Other ways to inject some joy into your working days, says Hooley, are to take a proper lunch break, create boundaries between work and home life if you’re working from home – and make time for informal chats with colleagues.
This new year, we focus on fun, not denial (because we’ve all had enough of that). Follow our month-long plan, with a new Here, Try This idea each day, spanning easy ways to engage your body and mind, inspiration for your food and home, and tips for boosting how you feel – inside and out.