Job Experiment: “Happy at Work”

No more complaining about your job. It’s time for action. 

And you have a couple choices:

  1. Quit your job and find a new job you love. Warning: You already know that most of us inevitably suffer from a “grass is greener” mentality. You might not actually love the job you think you’ll love you. Or, you might have no idea what job you would love. So, might I suggest you start with a second option…
  1. Learn to appreciate your current job. At least for now, try an experiment—let’s see how much you can learn to enjoy the job you already have.

Resist the urge to roll your eyes. I’m going to give you four things you can practice immediately that will help you:

  • Think about your job differently
  • Be grateful for the job you have
  • Have more fun at work
  • Have better relationships at work

Four things you can do immediately to enjoy your job—and your life:

1. Cultivate a sense of meaning. In 1983 Steve Jobs convinced John Sculley to leave PepsiCo and become the future CEO of Apple by asking him one question: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”

Wharton management professor Adam Grant discovered that “employees who know how their work has a meaningful, positive impact on others are not just happier than those who don’t; they are vastly more productive, too.”

Job Experiment Tips:

  • Picture people who directly or indirectly benefit from what you do.
  • Sketch a value chain using symbols and words. Because of what I do —> this is possible —> which leads to this —> and ultimately that
  • Remind yourself that everything is connected. What you do is enabled by others and enables others to do what they do.

2. Invest in a couple relationships. Even if there were only two people that you liked… Even if there were only two people that you could genuinely enjoy spending time with…Do that.

  • Walk to a lunch spot.
  • Discuss a challenge in a productive and proactive way.
  • Bring extra snacks and share.
  • Get up front your desk instead of IM.
  • Anticipate a need and meet the need without being asked.

In short, think about what would serve them and do it by being genuine and friendly. Relationships make the world go ‘round. Even in cubicles. Even at your company.

3. Set short-term goals. Set markers and milestones for yourself, beyond the expectations of your job. Push yourself to grow and accomplish more.

  • Set micro-goals and reward yourself with positive reinforcement. (ie: go for walk, get a snack, read an article, talk to a friend…)
  • Start with the things that are most difficult for your to do. Over the course of the day, you should be achieving small goals and engaging tasks that are more enjoyable.
  • Like a personal training in the gym, track your progress. Write down the times that it takes you to accomplish certain task. Note how consistently you are error-free. Push yourself to do a little bit better every day, week, month. Make it a game and you just might be energized by small “wins.”

4. Take responsibility for your own development. You can’t just wait for someone else to develop you. Sadly, most companies are terrible at training and developing their people. But that can’t be an excuse for poor performance or laziness. You grow you.

  • Read the three blogs that are relevant to your effectiveness. (IE: Sales, Management, Technology, Leadership…)
  • Find a conference that will stretch your thinking. Pay for it yourself if you have to.
  • Follow around the highest performers in your organization and mimic their actions. Success leaves clues.
  • Meet with an executive coach and create a plan of action.

You can’t expect someone else to make you better. You have to initiate. You have to want it. Whether in this job or you next job, it’s up to you to grow. Some companies make it easier than others, but growth ceilings are always self-induced.

If you genuinely try the above four action steps and they are not enough, then start another job. But remember. It’s much easier to find a job when you have a job. And it’s easier still to find a great job when you’re doing a great in your current job.

Remember, there’s a bigger story, and you and I just play a small part. It’s a unique and important part, but it’s just a part. And it’s up to us whether or not we’ll make the most of each day… and whether or not we’ll make the most of opportunities in front of us.

Do your best work, today.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” —Apostle Paul, Letter to the Colossians

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