Keep Your Work Satisfaction Up With Small Daily Victories

Have you ever watched “Office Space”? What about “The Office”, in either its British or American incarnation? Popular movies and television shows like these source a lot of their material from real-life workforce experiences and complaints, and in the very best human tradition, what we can’t change, we make jokes about. After all, laughing beats crying any day.

In real-life however, using just humor to survive working in a less-than-stellar environment can only take you so far.

Two big factors in that contributes to dissatisfaction in the work place is happiness and productivity, and they’re linked. It’s easy to admit to an idle fantasy of being paid to do nothing, but from many accounts shared online, jobs where you finish early and then spend the best part of the working day staring at the walls (or playing Solitaire), or being drowned in relentless waves of paperwork, or working on projects that get nowhere, are wearing on the soul.

As seductive as the fantasy is, the truth is that we’re not really made for scut-work. Past a certain age, our own development pushes us to find meaning in the work we do, pride in it, and no small sense of satisfaction in work done well.

When you are proud of and satisfied in the work you do, you are driven to keep that streak going. And continuing this happy event contributes to your own success:  we all want to know that our time, our efforts and our energy were well spent.

One of the ways we can get in the way of our own steady string of accomplishments is the lack of commitment. Sure, it’s nice to to be appreciated. Recognition and respect are great extrinsic (that is, external) motivators, but where it counts is the inner driving of our hearts. That’s where intrinsic factors come into play.

Things get stale. You do the same things over and over, getting the same acceptable results, but, and say it with me, ” [your] heart’s just not in it anymore.”

You just do the work on autopilot and your mind wanders onto other things, the way it’s wired to do when it it doesn’t find new stimulation. Our brains do that…and this phenomenon can work against your progress if you don’t fight it.

Given that the enemy lies right in your own head, finding the reserves to commit to daily skirmishes with work-connected boredom can be quite hard. What can you do?

Set yourself up to win in the small things.

 

We don’t often really think about it, but the flavor of our days are very much influenced by small things. Think of the ripple effects that can affect your whole day when you wake up in a really good mood — or oversleep and then get stuck in traffic. The mood tails you through out the day and can affect your work and even your co-workers.

Flip it around and think of the times your boss came in frazzled and harried, or when you get a phone call from a very unhappy customer. Your boss’s mood, that angry phone call, those are (in the long run) ‘little things’ too, and you can remember for yourself their impact on you.

When we speak of small wins, it’s not only rewards. “If I finish this I get to spend 10 minutes on Facebook,” or get up and eat a cupcake or something sweet.

It’s small wins at work. To be happy and successful at what you do, you need to be engaged in what you do. “When it comes to a bacon-and-egg breakfast, the chicken contributes, but the pig commits.” Commit to finding small ways to do better and fell more accomplished.

Ask questions.

  • How can I make this better? How can I streamline this?
  • How can I make this go faster without giving up quality?
  • How can I make this easier for me and my company? My self? My customers?
  • How can I take better care of myself while I’m making these changes?

 

Channeling the energy to improve your situation at work, upgrading your understanding of the work, and refining the way you do the work…little by little, things add up.

You get involved.

You get engaged.

You’re no longer blanking out.

Winning at these small things, over time, makes you better, and feel better about yourself and the work. You begin to see the beauty in creating something new and seeing something new in the work you previously dismissed as boring and unchanging. It’s not just you changing the work, it’s also the work changing you.

 

Committing to the process of the work and not just the results helps make both –and you as the prime mover in this situation — better. Your levels of engagement and productivity rise, and you re-ignite pride in what you choose to do. Examine your days –especially the bad days — and look at the ways apathy and discouragements seeps in. You can ask and offer help in dealing with it from your co-workers and your higher-ups.

 

When you have the why, set up the how. You set things up to feel better about yourself and about the situation. Now how do you get from here to where you want to be?

Take a good look at the reality of your situation, and don’t whitewash it. Honestly admit your part in what made the boredom, disengagement or ennui possible, and look at the environmental factors that helped it along. When you have that baseline, it shows you what you have, and gives you an idea how much work you need to do to change it, and in what areas. Action plans can be discouraging in a way (“Oh no, more work?”) but you don’t get earn what you don’t work for.

When you commit yourself wholeheartedly into making the work better, you build confidence in what you can do because *drumroll* you’re doing it.

You don’t hide from the issues, you go out there and handle them. When you think about how much yet you have to go, think of what you just finished (small wins, remember?) and see that every small step gets you closer.

 

Think about the bigger picture. Sure, you up and got your mojo back, but you don’t work in a vacuum. No one ever does. You work with others, report to others, help others…what about the people around you? How can you help them regain their enthusiasm? Remember, the internet is basic an incredibly massive collaborative effort. Collaboration is its strength and its make-up. Apply that cooperation to your working environment, and by helping each other up, everybody wins, no one loses.

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