Bored? Stuck in a rut? Looking for what’s next? You don’t need to quit your job to find more joy at work. Thanks to news.com (Body & Soul) for asking me to share some tips in this article.
Workplace expert Michelle Gibbings knows that even work that is fun eventually becomes mundane. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to resign.
There’s plenty of books on happiness – The Art of Happiness, Authentic Happiness, Stumbling on Happiness, The Happiness Advantage, The Happiness Project – and many are well worth reading.
If you only take a cursory glance, you can easily have the impression that pursuing happiness, above all else, should be your ultimate goal.
However, if you’ve watched the Disney movie ‘Inside Out’, you’d know this is a recipe for unhappiness.
The animated film takes place inside the head of Riley, an 11-year-old girl. Her five emotions – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust – play out as animated characters. It’s the emotion of Joy that initially takes control of Riley’s mind believing that it’s her job to make sure Riley is happy all the time.
As the movie unfolds, it’s clear this strategy isn’t working and that for Riley to be content, she needs all emotions.
It’s the same in life – be it personal or professional. We need to experience the lows in life to then be able to appreciate the highs. These punctuation points, comprising full stops, exclamation marks, dashes and commas, help mark out our days. When everything feels the same, we stop noticing what’s good and how we feel.
In 1988, Dutch psychologist Nico Frijda released research on the Law of Emotions.
While he agreed there are always exceptions, he proposed general rules that universally apply to how and why we experience emotions. Of particular relevance is the law of habituation. As Frijda writes, “Continued pleasures wear off; continued hardships lose their poignancy… The pains of loss of love abate with time, but love itself gradually loses its magic. Continued exposure to inhumanities blunts both suffering and moral discernment”.
Over time, we get used to our surroundings and circumstances, seeing things as the way they are – expected even. So our emotional response gets dulled, and something we once enjoyed or were stimulated by we find boring.
Think about your working day. Do you jump out of bed excited or roll over and wish you didn’t have to go to work? Is the job you once enjoyed now routine and uninteresting? If so, be aware that as your interest starts to wane, likely, your effectiveness diminishes too.
So rather than just let your day unfold and the law of habituation set in, take steps to find your punctuation points and more happiness at work.
Expand your job description
Your job description outlines the essential tasks and responsibilities of your role.
However, don’t limit your scope of work to what’s written on that piece of paper. There are often opportunities to expand what you do to include more intellectually stimulating activities or that help you acquire new skills.
Set your milestones
Everyone likes to see they are making progress. It’s motivating. Consequently, find ways to break your work into smaller, more bite-sized pieces of work, so it is easier to see more regular progress.
Monitor this progress and keep it visible. When you’ve hit a goal, reached a target, or achieved something you’ve been striving for, reward yourself in a meaningful way.
Connect and collaborate
In his book “Vital Friends: The People you can’t afford to live without”, Tom Rath outlines research that shows that employees who have best friends at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.
Additionally, if they have at least three vital friends at work, they are 96% more likely to be satisfied with their lives. Having friends at work makes us happier, more connected and more productive.
Shift your routine
Seek variety and change in your working day. For example, look for new ways to do things. Take a different route to work. Change the order in which you approach your tasks. These small changes can spark creativity and new ideas.
Book time for fun
Plan to have regular events in your calendar that force you to leave your work desk and not burn the midnight oil. It could be an online art class, catching up with a friend or attending a community activity.
These activities not only help you switch off but help you maintain balance and connection.