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It's called 'work' for a reason.

Dispelling the fact that work has to be wonderful.

Often work, is hard work.

Sometimes we have to get up, get over ourselves and get on with it.

People are often surprised when I take this stance. What ever happened to finding ‘passion’ in your job and ‘loving’ the job that you do?

If you are one of those people, passionate about your work and loving your job, well good for you. Be grateful for that and take your joy, along with the pay cheque. Count your blessings but be kind enough to do it in silence when others around you may be struggling.

What exactly does ‘happy at work’ mean?

Happiness = Expectation - reality

This well used formula for happiness is often quoted as a basis for satisfaction in life, work and money. There is much sense behind the equation.

Managing expectations goes a long way in helping us feel contented, if not happy, in our job. We all have times in our career when things are not going so well, the day job is tough or our career feels stranded. But if we were to believe all that we hear, we wouldn’t think this was the norm. With the growth of ‘parading’ our careers on social media, our expectations may have become warped.

Just as social media would lead us to believe we should have perfect bodies, so too it demands we should have perfect careers.

We need a wake-up call to remind ourselves that it’s called ‘work’ for a reason.

How to square the equation – how to be happiER at work.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Work can work for you. Even on a bad day.

It comes down to two things:

· A little bit of attitude.

· A little bit of action.

ATTITUDE - Reframe your thinking about work.

“An honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work”

This was a favourite phrase of my father, who worked very hard all his life.

Work is ultimately a transactional exchange. I do the tasks and get the results – and you (the company) give me money for doing that. It pays the rent.

Even if you do the job for the money, rethink how you see the money.

Rather than just see it as the pay cheque, see what money can do for you. How do you re invest that reward into the areas of your life that you value the most?

The money matters. Remind yourself what you do with the money that you earn. Perhaps it provides you with:

  • Independence – puts a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back.

  • Protection of the ones you love – puts a roof over their head, food on their table, clothes on their back.

  • Allows you the lifestyle that you love – to travel, to socialise, to pursue your non work interests.

  • As well as the money, what else does work do for you? Are you learning more? Getting better? Building confidence?

  • Connection – think of the people you work with. It might not feel like it on a bad day, but the connections that we make at work are often seminal in terms of our life path. Colleagues that we learn from, colleagues that we laugh with, or indeed colleagues that we might eventually hook up with and marry. Work often provides us with a multi - diverse network of connections that we would otherwise not have.

  • Routine – a place to go , a thing to do. Immanual Kant, the German Philosopher said that the three rules for happiness were ‘something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.”- never underestimate the power of ‘something to do’, every day.

ACTION – how to make your work ‘work’ for you .

Think of work as a continual opportunity for growth. There is always something to learn in the job. As a very dry witted colleague once quipped to me. “Even the worst job that you every had is a good example of how not to do things”.

Irrespective of our job, we are all ultimately working for Me PLC. This is a very liberating concept and one that has gotten me through several difficult roles in my career. Every year in a job allows us the opportunity to build Me PLC, however tough, or tedious that job may be.

And how do we do that?

By slowly and steadily building our career assets (I write about this in an earlier blog Career Assets ) – made up of knowledge, skills, contacts.

Knowledge – what access to new knowledge does your job bring you? One of my worst ever jobs allowed me access to my favourite industry (travel). So, while the day job was tough, I was constantly building knowledge of an industry that I loved.

Skills – if your day job is a series of difficult conversations with difficult people you are honing your skills of conflict handling. If your day job is overwhelming with too much to do in too little time, you’re getting better and better at time management and goal planning. If your job is numbingly boring with attention to detail, you are acing it at quality control. It is often through the toughest of times and the most tedious of tasks that we hone in on our key skills or learn new ones. Skills that will build our portfolio for the next career opportunity.

Contacts - Carla Harris in her great talk ‘How to find the person who can get you ahead at work’ talks about two types of organisational currency – performance and relational. By this she means it’s not just what we do, but who we know. Always reach out to others in the organisation to find out more about them and what they do. In doing so, they will also learn more about you and what you do.

Work helps us build contacts for connection, content and confidence.

To conclude:

So, if you are having a bad day in the office, cheer up, chin up and get on with it. Your future self will thank you for it!

Thanks for reading.


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And thanks to the following for the images:

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio:

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