3 Steps To Improve Your Working Life
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Most everyone has to go to work at some point in their lives. Unless you were born to generous millionaires, you will probably be familiar with the feeling of tired resignation as you drag yourself out of bed at an ungodly hour, the stress of the morning rush, the thrill of a Friday and the approaching dread on a Sunday night. Some people love their work, most people - not so much.
Whether we enjoy our workplaces or not, we have to acknowledge that we spend a lot of time there. We often dissociate work with the rest of our lives, wishing away the week, idolizing the weekend and using terms like work/life balance. But our work is a huge part of our life! To just put on a brave face and soldier through to the weekend does a disservice to our own lives. We owe it to ourselves to make the best out of our work situation to try and enrich our existence.
STEP 1 - Evaluate your PURPOSE in the workplace
- Why are you at work?
- Why are you at this particular workplace?
- Does your work stimulate you? Does it fit with any of your higher goals and aspirations?
I would bet that a lot of people would answer these questions just like this:
To make a living.
Because they happened to be the ones that liked my interview.
No and no.
That is the harsh reality of modern society. We often do a job that we have no interest in all day so that we can afford our house, car, food, bills and insurance. Many people's work has no relevance to them other than their paycheck that runs out all too quickly. Surely we were born for greater things than to work to pay bills? Some people are fortunate enough to work in a field they enjoy. Maybe they chose a career, studied hard, bagged the job they loved and still love it. Maybe they worked hard to set up their own business. Maybe they were just lucky. Whatever the reason, it is true that a lot of people out there live their purpose every day. When they wake up in the mornings they are glad to get started on their work because it comes from a place of passion. Their purpose keeps them motivated and hard-working and successful.
A lot of us only dream about that kind of life. Maybe we have an ideal job we wish we could do, but find all kind of obstacles in our path to stop us. It might require training or relocation or a salary drop that we just can't afford. Or maybe your passion is artistic and you are worried about supporting yourself. I encourage you to reach out for that career of your dreams. As far as we know we only have one life to live, and a huge portion of that is spent working. Your life is meant for greater things than just paying bills. Of course we have to take practical considerations into account, so we can create a realistic plan for putting our aspirations into action, but we shouldn't let that practical mentality squash our dreams. Instead of wishing our lives away and becoming miserable with our present work situation, we can use our current workplace as a stepping stone. If you need finance, this job will provide it. If you need extra confidence, treat this as your practice ground. If you need time to hone your art, be glad that this workplace pays your bills so you can be comfortable while you do so.
You may want to increase or decrease your hours, move companies or seek promotion, so this workplace, though not your final destination, can become the perfect stepping stone. By doing this, though we might not yet be living exactly as we want to, we can view where we are at now as a leg up towards our purpose, as the beginning of a journey. You will gain a respect for your job that you never had before.
STEP 2 - Improve Work Quality
To produce quality work, we require motivation. Motivation is a product of purpose. Once we have worked out that our work can be a stepping stone to true progress, motivation and quality follow naturally. When we care about what we are doing, we do it well. This helps to improve our performance, self-esteem and reputation. If every day we implement one change to our work for the better, there will be a vast improvement in a matter of weeks. In the long term, it may even lead to us getting a raise or promotion. Having a positive attitude and pride in what we do makes us valuable employees. A good company will recognize this improvement.
When our motivation starts to flag, all we have to do is call our purpose back to the front of our minds. Once we can see the connection between our dreams and what we do on an every day basis, the mundane takes on a new quality and importance.
STEP 3 - Improve Working Relationships
We can't underestimate the importance of relationships with those we work with. Often our colleagues are not the sort of people we would choose as firends, and it can be difficult to rub along together when we are so different. Other workplaces are harmonious from the get-go, and the quality of workplace relationships often depends on the management and their people skills. Either way, it is good practice to look at relationships as the foundation for opportunities. It is connections between people that create new ideas and situations for us to benefit from. If we focus on maintaining pleasant and professional workplace relationships, we set ourselves in good stead for the future. Colleagues will want to collaborate and management will see you as a solid candidate for responsibility.
Keeping personality clashes out of the office takes patience, listening skills and diplomacy. We are less motivated to work on professional relationships in a job we care little about, but when we see the job as a stepping stone, we can make this work to our advantage. As you progress to your dream job, there will be difficult people there too. Cultivating the skills of responding in a professional manner and opening new channels of respectful communication now will help you later and could be the difference between failure and success in your chosen field.
- Iman Mohiki
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