Work, work, work! So much of our lives are spent working. In fact, we spend roughly 90,000 hours of our life at work. That’s a LOT of time if you’re doing something that doesn’t bring you joy! The Baby Boomer generation was satisfied just knowing that they were financially supporting their families, thus their work to joy ratio wasn’t a factor in choosing a career path. However, today, things have changed. More and more people actually EXPECT to enjoy their work AND are willing to sacrifice their bottom line in order to ensure it!
Corporations are now doing more than just boasting of a good retirement package to steal the attention of highly qualified candidates. Smart businesses have made changes in their company policies and benefits to offer employees a better work-life balance. Whether it’s free catered food, no limits on annual leave, or free mental health services, employers are investing in the lives of their employees in meaningful ways. That’s because your work joy matters! The happier you are at work, the better your overall health, mood, and work productivity. It’s a win-win!
Sure, it would be easy to experience joy in your job if you worked at some ultra-cool tech company in Silicon Valley, where the company-offered perks include onsite acupuncture, lunchtime jam sessions, and private concerts. But chances are, that is not your reality, so we want to share a few strategies for finding joy in your less-than-perfect jobs.
First, find ways to operate with autonomy. The ability to independently make decisions on your job, no matter how small, will increase your work joy! Be on the lookout for ways to explore flexibility even within the confines of your micromanaged job. Find ways to skirt the edge of autonomy while still respecting the organizational culture and your leadership. Don’t feel like there are any opportunities for creativity or decision-making on your job? Then learn to explore the autonomy that you do have. If you’re responsible for ordering supplies for the company’s annual benefit extravaganza, seek out new vendors with exciting merch to mix it up a little. If it is something as simple as making your own decision about a font choice on the weekly meeting memo, relish in the small victories!
Second, say “Hello!” Even if you don’t particularly like your job, doing something as simple as saying “hi” to your colleagues can increase your opportunity for joy. By connecting to at least one person at work, you create a support network for yourself! And the needed encouragement can come in handy on particularly stressful days at work. Don’t isolate yourself from everyone as you watch the clock painfully count down the hours to quitting time. Connect, engage, and find opportunities to relate to your peers. It can mean the world of difference!
Finally, follow the joy! If it is hard to find joy in your job, look around, find someone who exhibits joy, and follow them. Ok, not in some stalker-like way, but befriend them or ask to join them for coffee. Avoid the natural tendency to flock toward the opposite. . .the disgruntled complainers; that will only zap your joy even more. The energy from a joyful person is contagious, so if you want to increase your work joy, begin by surrounding yourself with people who exude joy! Trust me, it will give you a fresh perspective and a new lens through which you can view your job. Next thing you know, one of those disgruntled complainers may be asking if they can join YOU for coffee. . .