Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by James Clear
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ~Dalai Lama
A few years back, I worked in a medical practice.
I’d always been fascinated with medicine, and the position allowed me virtually free reign within the practice. I was able to sit in at the operating room during procedures, learn about the medical billing process, chat with patients in the physical therapy unit, and much more.
Basically, the position was a great fit for me, but I still wasn’t happy at work.
Even though I had exposure to many areas, I was rarely given the responsibility I thought I deserved. My opinions seemed to count for very little, and I only had a few friends within the practice—if you could call them that.
Even though I was in a good job in the field that I loved, I still left each day feeling a little less happy with my decision to work there. I didn’t hate my job, but was this really what I was hoping for? I would think things like, “Is this as good as it’s going to get for me?” Or “Is this job going to make me happy, or am I going to be stuck in neutral forever?”
It’s easy to fall into this trap of mediocrity. In the beginning, you might be excited to start something new. But pretty soon you fall into a routine, and then one day you wake up and feel like you’re sleep walking through each work day.
The good news is that life doesn’t have to be perfect for you to find happiness at work. Here are 6 ways that I turned the sadness ship around and found joy at my job.
1. Develop a social circle.
One of the key indicators of happiness is having a strong social network.
It’s easy to hate your job when you don’t know your co-workers. And it’s even easier to keep hating it if you continue to avoid them. The situation isn’t going to change if your actions stay the same.
In my case, when I came in, I was training with one person for the first week. They were nice, but they didn’t introduce me to anyone else. After that week, everyone was used to seeing me walking the halls, but they were also used to not talking with me. Before I knew it, I had been there two months and barely knew anyone.
When I finally broke the silence, I found out that many of my co-workers were great.
Don’t let another day go by without learning about your co-workers. Friends don’t just fall into people’s laps. You have to make an effort and get to know them. Reach out to your co-workers and be curious about their lives. Two people have never become friends without one of them starting the conversation.
2. Look for opportunities for growth instead of failure.
So often, we worry about protecting ourselves at work. We look at situations not as opportunities to grow, but as a chance to fail. We view new ideas with skepticism. The thought that is always in the back of our minds is, “Will this make me look bad?”
The result is that we seldom take advantage of the opportunities before us.
If you feel like you’re always on the defensive on your job, then take a deep breath and look for an opportunity instead. Take joy in the fact that there is always a new project to start in the workplace. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you work, there is always something new that could be done.
Instead of punching the clock and settling in to the same routine, take some time to search for new opportunities. Constantly defending yourself is draining for everyone involved. You’ll find it much easier—and pleasant—to look for opportunities to grow instead of trying to protect yourself.