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5 Ways to Stop Loathing Your Job

Research-tested ideas for staying true to yourself even in the worst situations.

We all have things we do to make a living. Some of us do them with love. Some with pride. And some with joy. But many, unfortunately, do it with loathing. Or they do it just to get by.

In my work as a strategist, I spend a lot of time helping people deal with work or workplaces that are soul-destroying: Toxic bosses. Overloaded schedules. Chaotic work environments. Manic or apathetic employees. And sometimes, it’s all barren: Barren of meaning. Barren of pleasure. Barren of just about everything that makes us want to get out of bed in the morning.

Many people have been brought up to believe that working is meant to be hard, and not enjoyable. Not something that you do for personal fulfillment, just for financial gain. They believe you have to check yourself at the door when you go to work each day. That your essential self is not welcome there. They (whoever “they” are) want the perfect worker, or at least the productive employee, and your wants, needs and desires are not required, nor necessary.

Doesn’t it make you want to scream?

This is how I felt about my work, for a very long time, before I discovered there were tested ways I could show up, shine, and succeed by bringing my whole self to work. That’s right: I found ways to honor what I do best, no matter what my job description said.

Here are five ideas that transformed my work from loathing to love:

  1. Understand your why. Why would you bother to speak up at work, to go and start a new career, or to take on a great big job where there’s more chance of you failing than the one you’re in right now? Why would you risk the humiliation and the possibility of rejection and failure?  Best-selling author and courage coach Margie Warrell suggests trying to answer the question: “For the sake of what?” are you willing to get out of your comfort zone, to take that risk, and to pursue the ambitions that excite you?
  2. Be aware of who you’re surrounding yourself with. Self-doubt expert Louisa Jewell cautions that your social network can either increase or reduce your self-doubt. If you’re embarking on something new, make sure you’ve got really supportive people around you who are uplifting you and encouraging you to move forward.
  3. Build your levels of grit. Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania explains that “grit” is the passion and perseverance to stick with your long-term goals.  One way you can cultivate grit is to ensure your goals are personally interesting and meaningful in the world.  When you’re able to connect passion with action it gives you a sense of purpose and energy that researchers are finding prevents burnout and promotes resiliency.
  4. Create tiny habits to make lasting changes. BJ Fogg at Stanford University has found that by scaling back bigger behaviors into really small actions you can create dramatic shifts that last.  His tiny habits formula recommends: scaling back change to one very small step; sequencing this step by adding to the end of a habit you already have—“After I (insert existing routine), I will (insert new routine)”; and then celebrate your completion of the step with a heartfelt “Awesome!” to create a jolt of positive emotion that helps the habit stick.
  5. Set clear boundaries. Best-selling author and resilience, wellbeing and productivity coach Valorie Burton recommends setting and keeping clear boundaries with your boss and colleagues if you want to remain productive and happy at work. Asking yourself: “What are the boundaries you need to protect your own peace, joy and serenity at work?” Then notice the areas where you feel the most frustrated, stressed or overwhelmed currently and be honest with yourself about the conversations it’s time to have.

We are happiest when we are honoring ourselves. By following some of these tried and tested strategies, we can inch closer to showing up with authenticity, being on purpose, and setting boundaries that protect what matters to us, in work and in life.



And for more tested strategies to help you create the career and life you love, check out the best-selling book Getting Real About Having It All.

Originally published at Psychology Today 

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