The Challenge: Our work can seem like a drag – unexciting and exhausting.
The Science: We have more say than we think in how fun our job can be.
The Solution: Here are 6 ways to transform your job into one you love.
Mario was everything you would expect an Italian to be: boisterous, warm, and passionate about soccer. He was also very articulate and colorful in his expressions. But you would not be able to tell all this by seeing him at work as an administrative assistant in HR at a manufacturing company – a job that did not excite him. In fact, he seemed pretty low energy, except at lunch time when his zest animated the whole table. So Mario and I explored how he could craft his job to make better use of his strengths and talents (see hack #5 below), and the transformation was amazing: by structuring his day differently and by taking a lead role in people development programs, Mario found that his job made a difference in his colleagues’ lives and careers. That impact made him feel that his work mattered and therefore he started approaching his job with all the energy of his warm personality — Mario was now fully engaged at work.
Mario is not the exception. Here are 6 evidence-based strategies to help you walk in Mario’s footsteps and make your job more interesting and rewarding:
1) Commit to meditate 2 minutes (yes, just 2 minutes) each morning before your day starts. That simply means sitting comfortably and focusing on your breath for two minutes. Here is how. Your ability to engage fully at work will increase substantially because mindfulness teaches you how to be present and how to notice the little things that can make your day more meaningful.
2) Get Curious: researchers found that people report more presence of meaning and more satisfaction in life on days when they feel more curious. So be curious about your workplace: how is it structured and how did it come to be this way? Be curious about some specific tasks, activities or operations that you perform at work. Where did they originate? What is the their history? How do they contribute to adding value?
3) Play: Choose a specific task in your job description and make it a game by awarding yourself points. For example, you can choose to gain points for each project you finish on time, or for every invoice filed. Evidence suggests that turning work into a game increases engagement. As researcher and author Jane McGonigal argues, turning boring tasks into games allows you to make the most of your days while enhancing your well-being at the same time.
4) See how far you’ve come: You might be tempted to think that the key to your motivation at work lies in your manager’s hands: providing incentives, setting clear goals, or recognizing a job well done. Those are important factors, but surprisingly research shows that what sets apart good days from bad days at work is the sense of making some progress over time in something that is meaningful to you, be it a project or a skill. So choose any aspect of your job that mostly resonates with you, and work at getting better at it, little by little. For example, it might be connecting with co-workers; or learning how to master all the features of electronic spreadsheets; or making progress on a project for a client you care about.
5) Jobcraft: According to researchers, you can turn the job you have into the job you want! How? Rearrange the tasks in your job description to better fit your strengths and passions thanks to a better allocation of your time, energy and attention. For example, if what you like the most about your job is creating visually stunning presentations, make sure that you schedule that kind of work when you have the most energy and the least chance of being interrupted. Tweaks like these lead to more satisfaction and better engagement at work.
6) Think of how you’re contributing. Think of how your work in the end contributes to adding value. For example, if you work at a major distributor weighing and tagging produce before it is being shipped to supermarkets, think about how your work contributes to the chain of value that ultimately brings fresh produce to households all over the country. Researchers found that thinking of your job tasks in terms of positive impact on others leads to viewing your work as personally meaningful.
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