Okay, time to admit that the emperor has no clothes. This blog is all about creating a thriving culture, one in which people are energized and engaged. It all sounds very nice, but some us just aren’t there yet. Maybe we feel like we’re in a dead-end job or are underappreciated. Some of us may even be dealing with workplace relationships that border on abusive. The very idea of feeling energized and engaged at work may seem like a pipedream.
Now I could tell you that life is too short, to quit that looser job, and get out there and seize the day. (And if you can, then by all means!) But some of us are shackled by golden handcuffs, unable to be so footloose and fancy free. So what does that mean for us? Are we destined to be miserable? Not at all. Here are five things you can do to be a happy person in an unhappy job:
1. Focus on Your Competences
Weirdly, the more our competencies are called into question, the less competent we feel. And the less competent we feel, the less competent we become. And when we are less competent, our feeling of self-worth plummets. It’s an ugly and unfortunate cycle, one of self-fulfilling prophesy. So don’t let this happen! As you work, focus on that which you do well. Recall all the past successes you’ve had exercising this skill. Remember that others have seen you as an expert in what you do. In your historical memory, let the voices of your fans drown out those around you that are seeking to break you down.
2. Work Really Hard
Our puritan ancestors had this one right. Hard work can be a great way of clearing the mind of the mental and emotional garbage brought on by office politics and toxic work environments. Furthermore, hard work inevitably beings about accomplishment, and even self-defined accomplishments can go a long way in giving us a sense of meaning and purpose.
3. Diversify Your Portfolio
In the investment world, not every stock is going to be going gangbusters all the time. Every industry has its peaks and valleys. The savvy investor knows this and so builds a diversified portfolio, so that when one stock is down, another will be up. You can do the same thing when it comes to enjoying life. Nurture a wide variety of hobbies and relationships that can help sustain you when things are rough. You may try volunteering for something that has important meaning to you. Consider teaching at a community college. Students will appreciate your experience and skills. All these things will feed your self-esteem and help you weather the travails of work.
4. Find New Reasons to Do What You Do
You may not have a lot of choice in what you do, but you have all the choice in the world in why you do it. By attaching purpose to what you do at work, you connect your efforts to something larger and more meaningful. A mechanic working on a car can tell his or herself that one day this car will be driving a sick child to the hospital. And while they may not think about it consciously at the time, the worried parents will be grateful that a skilled mechanic cared for their car.
5. Don’t Bring Others Down
When things are hard, relationships are more important than ever. The problem is that we often inadvertently spew poison and filth all over these poor unsuspecting souls as we attempt to exorcise our demons. Connect and commiserate with those close to you, but be careful that they don’t run and hide afterward.