Every day when you walk into work, you have a sinking feeling in your stomach. Your muscles tense up. You smile through clenched teeth as you contribute your hours, your health, and your life to a job you don’t like, and an organization you can’t stand.
You wish you could change how things run and how you feel. But you don’t know where to begin.
You figure, everyone hates their job, right?
Actually, a 2019 survey shows that 85% of American workers are happy at work. That’s an astounding number. So big, in fact, that you can hardly believe it. You don’t know anyone who is happy at his/her job.
Which is a clue to your first problem?
Annie McKee, author of How to Be Happy at Work, tells us there are 3 ways to create happiness at work.
To be happy, you have to feel a sense of connection. If you have no one to celebrate your successes with, you feel hollow. If no one is there to lend an ear when you’re struggling, you feel alone.
Relationships are the cornerstone of human health and happiness. This is true inside and outside of work.
Don’t have any friends at work? Try:
- Having a chat about something that’s not work-related
- Asking someone to grab a sandwich with you on lunch break
- Offering and asking for help
Small gestures like these help make us feel more human and less isolated. The possibility of social rejection scares us, but without taking risks, you will never be happy at work—let alone reach your full potential.
For all of human history, man has been driven to ask why? Why are we here? Why do we die? Why do bad things happen to good people?
Our desire for answers, for purpose, for meaning is deeply rooted in human psychology. We create gods and go to war for them to fill this need.
And that drive doesn’t go away at work, where you spend over 40 hours every week.
No, if we spend most of our waking hours at one place, doing one thing, we absolutely need a reason to be there. And a reason much greater than money.
Nobody is going to give you a meaningful reason to show up to work. You have to figure this out by yourself.
But there are a lot of tools that you can use to find your why—starting with “Find Your Why” by Simon Sinek.
Consider a personality assessment. A Meyers Briggs Type Indicator has been used in a professional context for decades to help people find their career path. A new assessment, the Sparketype, is aimed at finding your underlying drives.
Finding your meaning and happiness at work will follow.
If you or a loved one has ever suffered from depression, you know that one of the most debilitating symptoms is hopelessness – a pervasive feeling that things will never get better.
The feeling that there is no light at the end of the tunnel stops us from taking action to improve our circumstances.
But with hope, we feel motivated. Energy, creativity, and resiliency sustain us up as we move towards better days.
To feel fulfilled in your career, you must have a positive, personal vision of what your future will look like. And you have to believe the path you’re on is going to get you there.
When we feel we have little control, conjuring hope can be difficult. You might think your boss won’t let you pursue your dream project or that the bureaucracy in your organization stops you from doing work that matters.
But that’s a mirage. You are in control of your life. You are in control of how you feel.
Feel more hopeful by:
- Meditating: Have a formal meditation practice to help reduce stress. Stress is like a pair of dirty glasses—everything viewed through the lenses looks worse. Set aside 20 minutes to meditate each day.
- Shifting Perspective: Epictetus, a famous stoic philosopher, said, “What really frightens and dismays us is not external events themselves, but the way in which we think about them.” Take control of your mindset. Think about how you can view things in a positive light without glossing over reality.
- Developing Your Strengths: What skills, interests, and experiences do you have in this line of work? How can you leverage those to head a successful project today? Coming from a place of strength and taking ownership will make you feel ready to take on the world.
Don’t let pessimistic co-workers or red tape stop you from doing what you need to do. You know how to feel happy and energetic. Smile and get to work.
Before you click out of this screen, write down at least one thing you will do tonight to prepare yourself for work tomorrow.