By Ramsey, Robert D.
What keeps millions of Americans awake worrying at night, gives countless men and a growing number of women ulcers each year, is one of the chief causes of depression among adults and is provoking increased hostility in large numbers of people all across the country? Their job! The world is full of people who dislike their job. Many of them are supervisors. These are people who hate to get out of bed to go to work each morning. These are people who constantly complain about their job, bosses and coworkers. They spend their days watching the clock and counting the hours at work and spend their nights dreading tomorrow. These are people who are hopeless and feel sorry for themselves. They’re grouchy. They’re anxious. They’re angry. They’re bored. They’re tired. They don’t eat well. They don’t sleep well. They don’t feel well. They live primarily for weekends. Their jobs are burying them.
If any of this sounds like you, you need help. You need to help yourself. Going to work every day to a job you detest is no way to live. In fact, it’s not really living at all. It’s merely enduring. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
Most jobs are what we make of them. It’s true perceptions become reality. Likewise, attitudes dictate feelings. How you think about your job determines how you feel about it. Fortunately, we own our attitudes. We can change them. As Elaine St. James, popular author of Inner Simplicity, suggests, “Our reactions to situations are elective and we get to do the electing.”
If you’re miserable, or merely dissatisfied, in your present job, you probably can do something about it. In most cases, you don’t have to change jobs. You just have to reframe the way you think about and approach your present one. Your attitude is your world. You can make the most of it.
Whether you supervise in a factory, shop or office and no matter how bad your work situation is, the following ten steps can help you find greater job enjoyment and satisfaction:
1. Look for what’s right about your job.
No job is perfect; but every job has some positive aspects. It may be the challenge. It may be the variety. It may be the people. It may be the sense of purpose or the feeling of making a contribution. It may be the perks. There’s something good about even a rotten job.
Find it. Focus on what’s right and quit dwelling on what’s wrong. Most often, you’ll find the job isn’t so bad after all. (Most of us are better off than we think we are.) Count your blessings, instead of your complaints and you’ll enjoy your job a lot more.
2. Be good at what you do.
Whatever your supervisory assignment, do your best – and keep getting better. Beef up your skills. Upgrade your knowledge. Stay current. Go back to school. Get advanced training. Attend workshops and seminars. Read. Listen and learn. Try harder.
Be the best you can be. When you’re good and you know it, it’s hard to hate your job. Pride and respect can make even a lousy job worthwhile.
3. Make friends with your problems.
Change the way you think about the frustrations, problems and difficulties associated with your job. Work without problems is boring. If there were no obstacles to overcome, there wouldn’t be much need for supervisors or managers.
Learn to view problems as friends and teachers. They make your work interesting and challenging. They test you and keep you on your toes. They give you a chance to show off your backbone, your problem-solving skills and your ability to overcome setbacks. They help you grow. Problems call forth the best in you. Without them, there would be no possibility of triumph. How you look at your problems has a lot to do with how much you like or dislike your job.
4. Lighten up; Loosen up.
Don’t take yourself or your job too seriously. Check the sun. It’s still the center of the universe. Stop being a control freak. Don’t even think about being a perfectionist.
Accept occasional failure as part of the price of doing business. Try to even out your mood swings. Don’t dwell on bad news. Don’t overreact. Remember the good times in the bad times. Learn from mistakes without shame or blame. Do your best and move on.
Become a little philosophical. Remember you work to live; you don’t live to work. Once you’ve put yourself and your work in perspective, you’ll be a lot happier in your job.
5. Pick the right dance partners.
Attitudes are contagious. That’s why it pays to associate with winners. Seek out people who are positive, upbeat, hopeful and optimistic about the future. Their perspective will rub off. Hang out with the best and brightest in the organization and you’ll feel better about yourself and your job.
The opposite is also true. If you want to like your job, avoid chronic whiners and complainers. They’ll only drag you down to their level. Cynicism and hopelessness can be learned. Stay away from those who only teach negative lessons.
If you surround yourself with people who enjoy their work, you’ll find yourself enjoying yours as well.
6. Have some fun.
The most successful and satisfied supervisors learn how to bring playfulness into the workplace. Having fun at work is good for you and good for business. It’s not as difficult as you might think.
One way to start is to celebrate successes (even little victories) and special events (including employees’ birthdays). Use food to help your staff, crew or team relax and enjoy themselves.
Turn quotas and production goals into games and contests. Encourage workers to enjoy each other. Relish relationships. Don’t be afraid to tease. Laugh a lot-particularly at yourself. Make a big deal out of the stories, legends and heroes of the workplace.
Lastly, try smiling. Smiles have a way of catching on. It’s hard to hate your job when you’re having fun and people all around you are smiling.
7. Take a tip from AA
Alcoholics Anonymous works for many because it helps them to keep from being overwhelmed by their sobriety. It teaches them to live only one day at a time. That same simple principle can help you enjoy your job more. Supervision can be overwhelming too if you think about everything that has to be done and worry about it all at once. The way to relax and enjoy it is to borrow a trick from AA. Take your job one step at a time. Prioritize. Break down big tasks into little ones; then do the little ones.
Do one thing then another and then another. That way the work gets done and you will feel better about your job as well.
8. Look for the humor – it’s there.
Every job has its own jokes. Lots of funny things happen at work. There’s a reason the Dilbert cartoons are so popular today. They’re true to life.
Some company policies are silly. Some rules are just plain stupid. Bosses do dumb things. Some supervisors do, too. People make foolish mistakes. Things go wrong at the worst time. Murphy’s Law applies to every workplace at one time or another. Look for the humor in bad situations. It’s there. Be open to it.
At work, as in the rest of life, it’s better to laugh than to cry. If you keep your sense of humor, it will help you keep your sanity. That way, you’ll like your job more.
9. Stay fit.
It’s true. When you feel good, things go better – even at work. In fact, feeling good is one of the secrets of feeling good about your job.
Take care of yourself. Eat right. Exercise. Sleep. Don’t jeopardize your health by working to the point of exhaustion trying to make a bad job better. It won’t work. Don’t try to mask the pain of an unhappy worklife with drugs or alcohol. That won’t work either. It will only create worse problems. When you’re not feeling up to par, you’re more vulnerable. Things appear worse than they are. You tire quickly. It becomes easy to make mistakes.
Supervision is hard work. It requires stamina and energy. Good supervisors are healthy supervisors. Stay fit. You owe it to yourself and to your employer. The better you feel, the better job you’ll do and the better you’ll feel about it.
10. Get a life.
Leave your work at work. Bring some balance into your life. A whole person is a happier person – and a better supervisor.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking working longer is working better. Workaholism is a sickness, not a solution. Be sure you have time for family, fun, friends, community and the spiritual side of your life – as well as for work. Save time for yourself too. Getting a life outside of work is a good way to get along better at work.
Life is too short to hate your job. It can make you hate yourself. If your work situation makes you miserable, it may not be the job. It may be you.
You can largely control your emotional response to your work. You have the power to enjoy your job more. You just have to make up your mind to use it.
Dr. Robert D. Ramsey is a freelance writer from Minneapolis with an extensive background of front-line experience in supervision and personnel administration. Dr. Ramsey is the author of several successful self-help books and a frequent contributor to SUPERVISION and other popular journals and newsletters.
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