How to wring more enjoyment and purpose from your career

Take heed, all you dreamers longing for greener pastures. Every job can be a grind, and where you are is probably not so bad. Here’s how to bloom where you’re planted.

How to find more joy at work

Is every workday like “Groundhog Day”—unending, iterative tedium?

Perhaps you feel more like Peter Gibbons from “Office Space,” who said of his dreary job, “Every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.”

Hopefully it’s not that bad for you. However, we all struggle with the daily grind of repetitive jobs. People who communicate or write for a living are certainly no exception.

Those of us who spend our days tethered to chairs and staring at screens are susceptible to boredom, burnout and even depression, and it’s important to acknowledge those possibilities.

It’s also crucial to actively pursue workplace self-care and to find sparks of pleasure—no matter how small—in our jobs.

Try these baby steps to boost your morale, build emotional resilience, and find the sunnier side of workplace life:

1. Savor small, everyday joys. So much of workplace experience hinges on attitude. If you roll into the office with a scowl on your face and dark hatred for grammar-flouting colleagues who think they’re geniuses, you’re probably going to be miserable. If you look for trouble, you’ll always find it.

However, if you make an earnest effort to seek out joy, positivity and uplifting moments, they are there. They might be hidden underneath piles of mundane email rubbish or obscured by obnoxious cubicle décor, but moments of happiness and hope exist at every workplace.

Savor those small, everyday joys in your job. Whether it’s crafting a humorous email, chatting with a colleague, catching a typo or thanking a co-worker for help with a project, savor the good vibes. Take a few moments to appreciate your own jobs well done. Even if you don’t receive the recognition you deserve, grab hold of those tiny sparks of joy throughout your day.

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2. Exult in victories—even minor triumphs. You need not throw a parade every time you cross something off your list, but do relish that sweet moment of task completion (and deletion.)

Hang on, you know what? Go ahead and throw yourself a little personal parade whenever you take care of business. Get that John Philip Sousa playlist pumpin’ in your headphones, shred up some paper confetti, and make it rain all over your cubicle. (Pro tip: Cleaning your desk is another small victory to savor.)

However you celebrate—perhaps it’s a brisk walk outside or a cup of victory coffee—take time to enjoy accomplishments. Every objective you complete deserves a bit of recognition. Sop up every bit of good vibe gravy that you can.

3. Learn something new, or conquer a fear. If you feel stuck in a dead-end job, spend time honing a new skill. Get on, and learn about design, photography, coding or whatever interests you.

Learn, but also do. If no one’s raising a hand to speak at the next staff meeting, take up the mantle. Be intentional about piping up more authoritatively in meetings. Collaborate closely with a different department. Push yourself to try new things, and go outside your professional comfort zone.

Invite a colleague to lunch, start a softball team or walking club, or create a new committee—do something extra that will enrich your workplace life.

Most of us will spend about 90,000 hours at work over our lifetimes, and yet 87 percent of us find no passion in what we do. Why not try to make the most of your time?

4. Be a friend—or a mentor. There’s a reason why Gallup continually finds “workplace friendships” to be the strongest indicator of employee engagement.

Just having one close friend at work can make a world of difference in your attitude and workplace experience. Of course, it’s not always easy to open up or socialize on the job. Be proactive and intentional about it. Invite people to lunch, swing by desks with coffee in hand, and seek out those with similar interests. If you work remotely, emerge from your home office occasionally to mingle with other human beings.

Also, seek out opportunities to mentor younger colleagues—or older ones. It doesn’t have to be anything formal; just provide guidance, suggestions and help when and where you can. Use your experience or special knowledge to build up and benefit others around you.

There’s no such thing as a perfect workplace. It’s up to each of us to figure how to stay fresh, eager, motivated and inspired amid everyday drudgery.

How do you keep your edge and find enjoyment at work? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

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