Holding Out for Hope (or a Hero)
As the weather turns grey and stormy, so do my thoughts. Monday and me aren't usually the best of friends-- especially on a cold, rainy day when staying at home in bed with blankets, hot coffee and my dog is way more appealing than sitting in a fluorescent, windowless office. While the work day continues, I catch myself wishing the day was over and dreading the approaching week that will be full of monotonous tasks, commuting and never getting enough sleep to fight off my exhaustion. Cliché, cheesy fantasies straight from the Hallmark Channel of being whisked away from my mundane, cubicle stressors by a dashing prince into a relaxing, Pinterest-perfect life fill my mind as I sit at my desk (I can dream, okay).
A part of me can't help but silently wonder if this is how it will always feel now? Will I always approach Mondays with dread? Did I become one of those people who lives for the weekend and views the workweek as an obstacle to overcome? Have I lost my sense of hope about things improving?
Before you say anything, yes I know that's a bummer way to look at things. I'm bumming myself out just typing it. I've always considered myself to be a hopeful person. And yes, I know life pre-adult corporate world was a little easier, but I genuinely wanted to keep my sense of optimism and hope with me even as I ventured into 'reality'. I still do and I'm determined to.
Which is why, once I noticed these thought bubbles forming in my mind, I decided to unpack just what was causing these things. And that's when I discovered the root behind these thoughts was three main things:
1) Environment 2) Stress 3) Apathy
These three components of my work life are probably nothing unique to me. I can think of a lot of friends and family that can relate to one if not all three of them. And as I unpack each one and how it affects the work mindset, I'm also going to provide some ways to combat them. Hopefully, in time, you'll be able to enjoy your work week more, or at least get some hope back that you can make things get better yourself.
First, my Environment was one of the reasons I was so down when it came to work.
Now I'm no scientist, but it shouldn't surprise anyone when I say bland, windowless, fluorescent light offices are not good for morale. Sure, it might "help boost productivity" or whatever defensive lies the one person who likes the color beige says, but it isn't good for people overall. Especially for long periods of time. Studies have shown that a lot of companies that utilize these type of offices (and there are a lot) use this layout to increase production, even at the expense of their employees. Which translates into one thing: it's not a healthy environment.
Along with our physical environments at work, the social environment also plays a huge role in our work experience and overall weekly mood. You reflect who you spend the most time with-- something my mom always likes to remind me of. Since this is usually true with our friends, it stands to reason the same would be true with our coworkers and/or clients (depending on your job). When you're surrounded by positive people who manage to see the bright side even when things get hard, you'll probably find yourself more inclined to stay positive too. But, that means when you're surrounded by negative people or intake negative content all day, you'll quickly find yourself becoming a bit of a downer.
Luckily, there's one way to combat both of these negative environments: bring the positive vibes to you. If your physical surroundings are just depressing, fifty shades of greige with the barest hint of sunlight, bring some pictures, plants (real or fake), candles or whatever you need to make your desk or office space just a little bit brighter. Maybe it's something simple, like your favorite mug, or it could be a yoga ball chair. But if it's something that makes you happy and can easily be brought to work, then I say go for it! Not only will that boost your own mood, but it can also help you encourage the people you interact with, and could potentially lead to a more positive work environment.
The next thing is Stress. I don't think I need to explain this one. Stress is something everyone has experienced in life and at work. There are times when we can't control the amount of stress we face, whether it's emotional, mental or even physical. But what we can do is work on coping with our stress. Meditation, journaling, breath-centric exercises like yoga or martial arts are a few things you can do after work to help decompress after the day. And during the work day, make sure to take breaks. Listen to your body and your brain; it's not healthy to push yourself or try to power through the stress without addressing it.
And, as I like to encourage almost everyone, find someone to talk to. Friends and family are great soundboards (or will let you have a good vent), but it never hurts to talk to a professional too. An unbiased third party who's an expert with the human brain and its stresses will always provide the best advice.
And finally the last and largest thing that can impact your work is Apathy. Apathy is the epitome of not caring, the opposite of passion and effort. When you're apathetic, you're bored and indifferent to the things happening around you. Which means being apathetic at work can create a lot of problems. It's part of the reason why most people are bored with their day jobs, counting down the hours until they can go home or take a vacation. It doesn't matter how great of an employee you are-- if you're apathetic, it'll show.
Now I'm not saying every job will be amazing, super fun and the career of your dreams. Nine times out of ten they aren't. But nearly every job you take, you have a reason for doing so. Whether it really is the job of your dreams, a stepping stone to your ultimate goal or just a way to pay the bills are all equally good and important reasons to have a job. And reminding yourself of the purpose behind your job, why you're doing it and the people you're impacting because of it, is the best way to beat the apathy monster.
Work is hard (that's why it called work.) And some days will definitely be rougher than others. But some days will be better, too. So make the most of the job you're at currently. Brighten someone's day with a joke, befriend a coworker or find little ways to express your passion as you work towards your goal. It won't just make the time go by faster, but it'll also be much more rewarding.
And remember, not every job is permanent. You have the power to find a new one if that's what you want (and that's awesome! I say go for it). Until you can pursue your new dream, I hope that these reminders help with whatever job or work you're in currently.
And at the very least, they'll give you something to do until a heroic, prince charming takes you to his fancy castle or something.
Colossians 3:23-24 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."