Ask yourself, “If you were to get enough money to live as comfortably as you would like for the rest of your life, would you continue to work or would you stop working?” Twenty years ago, 61% of you would have answered, “Stop working, no way.” But this is now, where half of you would quickly say, “I am outta here.” Job-satisfaction levels have declined among all workers, regardless of age, income or even state of residence, according to a 2007 Conference Board report. Two out of every ten employees do not expect to be in their current job a year from now. Sound familiar?
The happiest employees are those with professional jobs that involve serving or helping others. I don’t mean at fast-food restaurants, more like firefighters, the clergy and teachers. Also painters, writers and sculptors, who are allowed to pursue their creative side, report work having a central role in their lives and contributing to their well-being. Good salaries provide some satisfaction, with workers earning $15,000 or less having lower levels of satisfaction than those whose salaries are over $50,000. Other factors are job challenge, commute, work/life balance and potential for growth.
There are days when I love my job, but others where I drag into work. Strategies that I use to keep me motivated include playing my favorite songs in the car on my drive there. Days that I get to work out in the morning before work also keep my energy up throughout the day. The key is to find what works for you, since for most of us, working is a non-negotiable fact of life.
Here are eight suggestions to beat the work blues.
Learn to laugh
Humor is great way to provide balance to stressful situations and is a healthy release. It can promote team building, the generation of new ideas and even improves our brains' ability to cognitively solve problems. Keep it fun, nonpersonal and avoid being sarcastic
It is OK to vent, it really is. However, do it prepared to take action and be engaged. Releasing steam can be beneficial if it is done in an atmosphere of caring and commitment to changing the outcome. In other words, be willing to roll up your sleeves and pitch in. Be a force of change, not just blame.
Work smarter, not harder
Use time management and organizational skills to your advantage. Take the time to assess how effectively you schedule your time. Maximize technology to stay on task and organized. Make sure that you plan for regular breaks at work. Workers who take regular breaks for as little as ten minutes are more productive. Get up and move around.
Focus on safety and comfort
Major factors in job satisfaction are issues like safety, comfort and adequate resources. Things like ergonomic chairs, great work spaces and brightly lit rooms make a big difference. Ask for what you need. Create a pleasing work space. Bring in family pictures or add plants or fresh flowers.
Define your own success and satisfaction
Working in the information age, where more and more work is “invisible,” it may be difficult to see the immediate fruits of your labor. Homa Bahrami from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business writes, “Not only is work harder to measure but it’s also harder to define success.” One solution is creating your own short-term goals at work. Take pride in what you have accomplished. It may also help to have a hobby that has a tangible outcome, like knitting.
Focus on a personal goal
It may be saving for a vacation to a special place, running a marathon or creating a garden. Figure out a strategy to make it happen. Work then becomes a means to an end.
Make the most of your days off
Catch up on your to-do list. Use the days for me-time only. Visit friends, sleep, exercise … you get the picture. Change your perspective; don’t allow your work blues to color your free time.
Quit your job (just kidding)
The point is, you can always fantasize about telling your boss to “take this job and shove it.” Fantasy is a healthy outlet. Daydream, be creative and find ways to change your perspective and beat the work blahs.