By David Joel Miller.
Are you unhappy at work?
More people are unhappy than happy on the job site these days. Not that the job is necessarily supposed to make you happy. There was a time when people’s main reason for working was just the money. When most people worked in farming or at a trade you worked to save up some money, bought some land and then had your life. Now if you have land you have to work to pay the taxes and other bills.
You will be working a long time.
If you look at your work or career as something you will do for 40 or so years, from becoming an adult, till you retire, it makes sense to look for a career doing something which you can be happy doing all those years.
The pay scale is not the only thing that makes for happiness. Pay is mostly symbolic. If I make enough to live the way I want, more is less important than if I am not making enough to get by on. A dollar an hour wage increase is huge for someone making minimum wage but means not much to someone who makes millions each year. Any good manager should know that giving out a raise can up production and happiness for a while but after some time people tend to revert back to their old ways. So the good workers work hard after the raise and those who thought that more money would make them happy find the effects of that raise are wearing off before long.
People who are truly happy at work find that it is more what they do and think than what the boss does that determines their happiness at work. While a bad boss can make things more difficult, there are things you can do wherever you are to make your work life more rewarding. Rather than expecting someone else to make you happy at work look for ways to get and keep a job that will make you happy.
Here are a few tips for creating a happy environment at your work site.
Search out a job that is right for you and that you would like to do.
College students often end up in majors because they heard that people who do that kind of work make a lot of money. Once out of school and on the job they are miserable and they often blame the place they work. If you are a shy person avoid training for or looking for a job that puts you out front talking to lots of people unless your goal is to overcome that shyness.
Look first for a job that would fit your personality and likes. Over time you should stretch and try to grow. Taking a job that you do not want to do is a sure recipe for job burnout. You may need to take a less than ideal job for now, but if you do, try to avoid settling into this for the long haul and being miserable in the meantime. Be thankful for the paycheck, do your very best, all the while looking for your ideal situation.
Do some research on what to expect on that job.
Some jobs look like fun when you see them on T. V. but the seamstress murder mystery solver is a fiction. Do some homework, talk with some people who actually do the kind of work you are thinking of doing. Does what is expected of employees at this company sound like something you could deal with for a long time or are you asking yourself how long you can put up with this right from day one.
Take care of yourself.
You cannot push all day at work and then go home and push all night without risking burnout. You work for a paycheck, OK. But partying all weekend is going to turn that job into something you will find it hard to show up for on Monday.
Learn to say no.
When asked to do something that you don’t think you can do, at least not safely or in the time allowed, say so. Avoid saying yes and then not doing what you said you would do. Being overcommitted at work and in your out of work life can make even the most enjoyable job an overwhelming burnout.
Please the people who matter. Do not try to please everyone.
Usually, you need to please your immediate boss or supervisor. You also need to keep the “customers” whoever that may be, happy. Beyond that, you should try to keep good relationships with coworkers but you can’t please everyone all the time. Pick who you will need to please and work on that.
You probably can’t please your boss and your parents and spouse all at the same time. Make sure you keep your family out of your work life and your boss out of your home life.
Work smarter not longer.
To the extent you have any control over the work you do and how you do it look for ways to get more done in less time. Elaborate filling systems are nice – sort of – but watch out for things that suck up a lot of time and produce no results. If the project changes weekly those files may all need to be pitched out next Monday.
Concentrate on the things that are most productive.
A few of the things you do produce the bulk of the results. This is true at the job, school and in your relationships. Do the things that are most productive first. Often those productive things will be the willpower sucking things that you keep putting off.
Do the hard things first while your willpower is strongest, then move on through your day to the less and less difficult things. Remember there will always be more to do tomorrow.
Prioritize to do lists.
Lists keep growing to fill the paper available. Many things on that list are wishes rather than need to do items. Do what matters first and cross off all the things that really do not need to be done. The goal is to be productive and enjoy your work life not to be super-employee whose cape is worn out before retirement day.
Enjoy your face time.
Emails and tweets are fine but nothing beats a face to face get together. Humans are social animals we need to see and be around others. Most happy employees get some time each day to stop and chat with other employees.
You can’t understand the tone of voice very well in an email, you get that better in person. You also need to be concerned about the person you are with as well as the work.
Think about when it will be time for a change and how you will know that.
Staying in the same place on the same job can burn people out. You need fresh challenges or opportunities if you stay on the same job. Some people find that periodically they need to change departments, tasks, companies or even careers. Others will find that they need to look for those challenges in their hobbies or out of work activates.
What ways have you found to avoid burnout in your life?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books