Rediscovering Joy at Work

A person standing in a field of flowers surrounded by a wheat circular overlay, with the text, "Rediscovering Joy."

When did we start using the phrase Sunday Scaries? What it is referring to is the anxiety many of us have about the week ahead. It seems we’ve lost the joy for what we do, and it doesn’t matter how much you love your job, we’re all just a little bit sad.

A recent Harvard Business Review article indicates we’re all burned out from almost a year and a half of sustained stress and sadness. Even in organizations that have fared well through the pandemic, like 8THIRTYFOUR, necessary changes meant increased pressure. We’ve faced continual uncertainty and hunkered down in survival mode in response. Though we’ve all experienced the pandemic differently, we all have been affected by losses and grief.

The pandemic will have long-reaching effects on all of us, but we can rediscover our joy and love for what we do.

Here’s how.

Energize

What gets you excited? What do you love doing? What is something you excel at? HBR tells us to ask ourselves: “When are times recently that I have felt energized at work? In these situations, what was I doing?”

Some of us need uninterrupted work time to crush deadlines, and others get energy from brainstorming with other team members. Set aside time on your calendar to crank shit out, put a “do not disturb” sign on your office door and close out email and chat.

If you thrive off others’ energy, plan a team lunch or walk where you can throw around ideas to re-energize yourself for the rest of the day.

Identifying what you need to succeed is key to rediscovering your joy at work. 

Grow

No one wants to feel stagnant in their job. One of the best things you can do to lead others well is to spend time developing yourself. When we say lead, that can be by example or through managing others. We’re all leaders, it is just demonstrated in different ways.

Invest time into your professional growth, it could be as simple as a 30-minute webinar on website plugins or a workshop on creative writing. Learning a new skill or sharpening an existing one will go a long way in refreshing your passion for your job. By the way, your company should be encouraging you to find these opportunities and then pay for them. 

Authenticity

Work should be a safe space for you to be who you are. Many of us over the last 17 months have felt the need to put on a brave face and pretend everything is freaking fantastic when it quite clearly is not. It’s ok to admit the last year or so has been hard and that you’ve struggled.

Be open and honest with yourself and your colleagues about your struggles. On the flip side, be sure to share what you’re grateful for and what you are looking forward to in this next year.

When the relationship with your co-workers is built on transparency and honesty, you’ll feel supported and safe, and that will go a long way in rediscovering fulfillment in your job. 

Relationships

Isolation is not healthy. Now, don’t get us wrong, you need time to yourself to think and reflect, but 16+ months is a bit overkill. Humans thrive off of interaction with others, which is why there are benefits in going back to the office. 

When you’re in the office, make time to chat with your teammates. Go for a “walk and talk” or grab lunch together. According to HBR, time together will not only bolster your own sense of energy but also improve team results. The trust built through such connection fosters a collaborative culture which in turn enhances team creativity.

If you find yourself wallowing or dreading work, you have to put in the effort to rediscover the love you had for your job. Sometimes that is going to mean you fake it and force yourself to have a conversation with a coworker. You’ll be surprised how quickly the “fake” turns into “real.”

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