Routines. Schedules. Such odd concepts. When you lack them, you crave them however when you have them they sweep you up in their never-ending monotony.
A few weeks ago I was drowning. Each day I woke up at 5:45 am, worked out, showered, breakfast, studied, worked for 9 hours, dinner, sleep, repeat. At university the time you actually have to be in class is quite small, the rest of your time is simply yours. You can study, workout, go to the park, hike, play sports, grab a drink. There are expectations – but I always felt freedom in knowing as long as I could pass the test, however I chose to prepare myself was entirely up to me.
Work is different. Sure in university I learned some life skills, like time management. Trust me, I am a time management guru – but when you’re working 45 to 50 hours a week what time are you exactly suppose to manage? So I got caught. Moving from Task A to Task B seamlessly throughout the day and feeling at the end I was so exhausted I could barely function and all I could look forward to was my next day off. Ew. NOT how I want to live my life.
But here’s the question – how do you hustle, advance your career, put in the hard hours AND feel happy, satisfied and not like you’re drowning in a fast paced river that’s freezing cold while stubbing your toes on rocks along the bottom. So here is what I’ve done over the past few weeks that have helped me to shift my perspective, get excited and feel like I’m racing down the river on top of the raft and (somewhat) using my oars to guide me. Essentially how to be happier at work, right now.
Finding the Positivity & Excitement- What do I like about my job?
During my time of self-induced helpless, I took a 30 minutes to write down everything I liked about my job. Sure my schedule isn’t the best, the work can get pretty repetitive and I get frustrated spending this time living in Europe in a position where I’m unable to travel however the company I work for has an unbeatable culture, I have a lot of responsibility, I get to be in control of much of the work that I do, my boss is awesome, there is some variety to each day, I am learning so much, I have benefits, there is so much growth potential for my career within this company and this is the first time I’ve been in a salary position receiving a paycheck each month.
Immediately upon writing down these positives, my heart started to lighten and I found my energy shifting from these few negatives to the awesome and positive aspects of my current work.
The next step was to then write down all immediate and long-term changes I was hoping to see in this job. I had been so focused on things that might happen in the future versus what I could actually do right now that would bring me fulfillment and most importantly the feeling of moving forward. Thanks to this within a few weeks I’ve already kicked off my specialty brewery tours (which I didn’t realize I had kept putting off) and started seeking out other avenues to take on more responsibility within the company.
2. Be Intentional with Free-time – What fills you up? What refreshes your soul?
I have a 30 minute commute to work everyday. This was one of the biggest downsides to taking this job (considering the cafe I worked at was a 30 second walk). However I now wouldn’t trade my commute for anything in the world, thanks so a magical thing called podcasts. Seriously, I cannot promote them enough. I actually look forward to those 30 minutes each day as they’re filled with inspiration, laughter and sometimes just pure fun. Listening to people talk about their self-growth, entrepreneurial stories and how they found ways to make their lives more intentional always preps me for my day at work and unwinds me on the way home. Here are a few of my favs:
- The Lively Show
- Jess Lively interviews a wide range of people on how to live with more intention everyday. Super uplifting, inspirational & fun
- Start Up
- A real-time account of what it’s like to attempt to make a start-up business. I’ve learned loaded, laughed so hard and thoroughly enjoyed this one. Start at the beginning!
- Another one to start from the beginning. Similar to start-up’s style, however this follows Megan attempting to maneuver her 20’s as a Millennial.
- Adulthood Made Easy
- A Real Simple podcast by a 22 year old getting advice on everything needed to transition into adulthood
Besides listening to podcasts I also made a priority list. Because of my exhaustion from work, many times I would find myself laying around for my whole day off and feeling stressed out because I had just wasted one of my precious days! So I finally made a list of things that fill me up and I throughly enjoy doing. This included reading (pleasure & self-growth), playing piano, exploring the area around Aberdeen, blogging, bullet journaling, walking the charity shops, watching live music and taking care of my plants. A lot of these I can do in PJs at home (…which may be the case right now) and it’s nice to have a set list of things to do that might take a teensy bit of effort to start, but once I get going I always enjoy myself and appreciate that free-time more later on.
3. Creatively Sustaining Old & New Relationships
To all my transplanted peeps out there, let’s face it – sustaining a relationship via Facetime is hard, if not impossible unless it’s with your mom or partner. I don’t know why this has taken me a year and a half to learn. Time differences, exhaustion after work, late mornings – timing is everything for Facetime and with an 8 hour time difference it’s just pretty much impossible to keep up.
So I finally came to a conclusion (with help from my mom, of course) – why not try a different form of communication with my friends. Duh. I don’t know why it took so long for this to become a material thought.
So my new resolution is the 21st century form of snail mail – email. To a few of my close friends I sent out an email explaining how hard it has been to stay in touch, but how badly I want to know what is happening in their daily, real lives – not just what’s being posted to social media. My proposition was to every other week or so find time to sit down a write a letter of what’s actually happening in life. That way it can be at a moment that’s actually convenient and not another stressful thing to shove into an overfilled day.
I already feel like I know more of what’s happening in my friends lives than I have over the past year and a half… And it’s wonderful.
A few small, relatively painless changes have really helped to motivate and excite me for this monotonous life I’m currently living (sarcasm…). But seriously, reframing my thoughts, getting excited, being intentional with my free-time and finding an effective way to sustain my many long-distance relationships has made all the difference in the world. Hopefully something to come back once my little train gets derailed once again.
Any other tips for how to be happier at work? Please share in the comments below!