Working Strategies: Are you enjoying your work? By Amy Lindgren

Jan 31, 2017, 07:29 PM

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(music) Working Strategies: Are you enjoying your work? By Amy Lindgren | | September 3, 2016 at 12:00 pm Is your work life fun? I’d quote statistics from any one of the kazillion surveys on this topic, but what’s the point? The ones sponsored by a job board will tell you everyone hates their work (and should immediately use the board to find new employment) while the surveys sponsored by … hmm. Who exactly benefits from us being happy at work? That’s part of the problem, I think: We’re a culture that knows how to cash in on the negative emotions, so we tend to study them, discuss them and just generally convince each other that everyone else is unhappy — so we probably are, too. I don’t have evidence to the contrary, but I do have an odd observation to report. When I meet with people who need new work, it’s very common for them to refer back to an earlier job that was their “favorite,” or even “the best ever.” Which leaves me wondering: How could we have so many terrific jobs in our individual backgrounds, but so few in our current lives? I suppose there are a number of possibilities. Perhaps we don’t recognize a job’s better aspects until we’re no longer immersed in it. Or maybe we’re on a collective downhill slide, and our past jobs really were much better than our current work. It’s also possible we delude ourselves into thinking the past was better, conveniently ignoring all the difficulties we faced at the time. Maybe we were just younger then and our knees didn’t hurt. I guess I don’t know how to account for this quirky bit of trivia, but it does lead me to a resolution: Knowing that the days I’m living now could turn into my “good old days” later, I’m determined to enjoy them right now, in real time. To make good on this three-quarter year resolution (it’s not New Year’s anymore, but I’m slipping one in), I think I need to divide my daily experiences into a few categories. I’m considering a category for gratitude, so I can remind myself to be thankful for (or even just cognizant of) those little graces that slip into each workday unannounced. Another category would be for small victories that aren’t large enough to be a metric, but which still represent a step forward on my larger goals. And of course, there needs to be a category for fun. While the other two categories are about recognizing positive events as they happen, this one would require more intention — as in, How will I create some fun today? Here’s how a set of the three lists might look for a typical few days in my worklife. THINGS TO BE GRATEFUL FOR • Staff meetings that run short instead of long • Payments that arrive early • Co-workers and clients who are kind and supportive • Traffic lights that turn green when I’m running late SMALL VICTORIES • Clients who like their new resumes • Financial records that balance on the first accounting • Workshops that run smoothly, with participants mastering the material • Difficult interpersonal situations that resolve without drama FUN • Heading to the State Fair for a half-day when there’s no reason not to • Posting new cartoons on my office wall • Taking a dance break when I need to stay late for a project • Riding my bike to work so I can take a longer ride on the way home As you can see, these aren’t very high-test items. No “winning the national sales contest” or “receiving a telephone call from the President.” Just a series of the mundane, everyday things we mostly overlook in our hurry to be upset about something. As someone who works a lot of long hours without many tangible benefits, I have one more very powerful tool ...