GET INSPIREDAT WORK
YOU WORK TOO MUCH TO NOT BE INSPIRED AT WORK.
Check out Merriam-Webster’s definition of work:
1: activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something: a : sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result
The definition makes me excited about work! Using my effort to overcome obstacles and achieve? I picture superheroes and strong, persevering, inspiring people doing this “work” thing.
But too often we don’t feel like superheroes at work. We feel like task-masters, clocking in and out with either too much ho-hum of boredom or hemming and hawing at exhaustion. Neither of those sound inspired, and they certainly don’t sound like what Merriam-Webster has in mind for us!
We can bet if we don’t like our jobs, we’re not the only one who knows it. We can become a drain on our co-workers, bosses and even clients. It’s time to take charge of being inspired at work!
HERE ARE FIVE QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU GET MORE INSPIRED AT WORK:
1. What attracted you to this job in the first place?
You might know immediately that you love helping people or perhaps your first response is “the money” (but that’s the what, not the why).
Somewhere you have nuances that reflect parts of what your true self enjoys about contributing to an organization. Maybe it’s problem solving, working with a team, creating procedures or implementing ideas. Maybe it’s technical details, bringing organization to chaos, delivering great service or making clients’ lives easier. Before you can act on our second question, you must explore this first one.
If the answer doesn’t come immediately, sift through to find a reflection of the inspired “why” and a glimmering aspect of purpose that once shined with the hope of personal fulfillment.
You can’t indulge in inspiration if you don’t know what inspires you. It will be transformative to connect with your inspired work roots and to put more intention and attention into those aspects.
2. How can you take on more of what inspires you?
Take on more responsibility? How could more work be inspiring?! When we do work that inspires us, even in a small way, the amount of fulfillment we experience is exponential.
Even if we are spending more time, being responsible for contributions with meaning to us as individuals make us feel like the superhero’s Merriam Webster wants us to be.
Our work, where we spend at least half of our waking hours, has to align with something that inspires us if we want to feel happy and fulfilled. We choose where we work and what we do, and we have a decent amount of control over how to get there.
Once we’re deep into a job or career, we can lose sight of how much choice we have over our career and job. We can become complacent instead as truly empowered as we were when we took our first step toward our career or signed the contract accepting our current job.
Whatever it is, identify a fulfilling part of your job and work to enhance it. Do it more, do it even better, or get training. Look at promotion opportunities or discover what new tasks or roles you can take to change it up a bit. Is there a small or large change you can make in your current job that would make a big difference for you? Ask for what you want.
So many opportunities are left on the table because we try to predict an answer based on assumptions. Advocate for yourself if no one else is advocating for you.
3. Are you showing up as your best self?
Even if you’re feeling at your wits end with your job, how you show up is about you and your personal integrity. It’s about being true to yourself.
If you know you’re feeling uninspired at work, it’s likely starting to show. Perhaps you’re putting less effort into your work appearance, not committing to the same quality or timing of work deliverables or making sure co-workers know your frustration.
Regardless of where you are at along that scale, center back to your true self and how you want to show up in your own life. Not for your employer, or even your co-workers and clients, but to honor yourself.
4. Can you make your environment more inspiring?
I remember being shocked when I walked into one of my classiest friend’s new office and was blown away by the beautiful dark wood furniture that looked so professional and welcoming. “They bought you this?!” She laughed, “no, I brought it in.”
I hadn’t even considering buying or bringing in my own choice for furniture and ditching the outdated tacky chairs I had. I certainly didn’t want to spend the money, but our office space is our second home (if we’re not working in the field). How can you keep inspiration accessible and top of mind during your day at work? Even if If you’re not given much freedom, you can still:
- Get a coffee or tea mug that absolutely delights you.
- Find a mousepad in your favorite color.
- Get a calendar with beautiful destinations or make your own.
- Don’t use generic pens when you don’t have to! Get a pen in a fun color or one that writes like a dream so you feel like celebrity every time you sign something.
- Buy flowers for yourself or get a plant.
- Is your primary office a vehicle? Hang a fun air freshener and get a visor clip to put up some of your favorite or bucket list photos.
Look at your inspiration list and see how you can implement parallel inspired indulgences in a small way!
5. Do you need to change jobs or careers?
Life is too precious to dread your job. If you find yourself thinking, and even worse saying how much you dislike your job, stop making excuses and start working toward a job you’ll love. The more threads of inspiration you share with your job, the happier you’ll feel and the stronger your contribution will be.
It’s one thing if our job simply isn’t working for us, but if our career is creating a ceiling of happiness, it is never too late to prepare for another field. Maybe you’ll have to take classes, get a certificate, or get a degree. Maybe you’ll learn outside of school, with an entrepreneurial spirit, finding real world opportunities to provide the experience needed. Find mentors or learn online with the plethora of digital resources and programs at our fingertips. Maybe a change will mean a pay cut.
As daunting as these options can be, one year in a job that inspires you will quickly wash away the time spent to get there. We have more ways than ever before to pursue a new job or career path that inspires us, and none are without challenges.
It will take time and commitment, as there are few shortcuts to learning and practicing, but we experience the reward for the rest of our lives.
Read next: What’s Stopping You from Your Dream Job?
WHEN WE HAVE TO CHANGE MORE THAN OUR MINDSET
Sometimes inspiration isn’t enough to make our jobs work. Sometimes we get tired of keeping our heads bent under a happiness ceiling that is simply too low for us.
If our work environment is unhealthy, no amount of inspiration or mindset will break through that ceiling. If we are not being treated with respect or are being subjected to negativity or ridicule day after day, it will eventually eat away at our self-esteem or possibly cause us to develop habitual defense mechanisms that may be inappropriate and unnecessary at our next workplace. We might forget that a work environment can be healthy and enjoyable, or might forget that we deserve better. The longer we stay in dysfunction, the more likely we will darkly color any job, or even the world, as an unsafe or offensive place that doesn’t truly see us or our worth.
Inspiration isn’t enough to change an unhealthy work or home environment into a healthier one. Inspiration is only a temporary fix if we are unable to influence our environment, or the people and circumstances within it, to get what we need. Inspiration is not enough to give you everything you need to be truly happy if we continue to keep fundamental parts of our lives out of alignment with our true selves. Sometimes these situations are temporary, and we must stay strong to get to a bigger reward or fulfillment on the other side. Other times, we are simply enduring stress and trying our best to ignore what our true selves need because we think we “should,” have to, or are uncomfortable with the unknown that will follow a departure from an existing job or career.
Don’t let your happiness be held hostage by money. Don’t trade fulfillment for security. Even if you get a loan to help you transition, by the time you have to pay it back, imagine how different your life will be if every day you’re filled with greater joy. What is true happiness worth to you?
When we change our mindset to be empowered, choices unfold that we forgot existed. Changing a job or career isn’t easy, but it’s certainly possible. We will face the same challenges that anyone else endured, and we can be just as committed and successful.
Not only is life too short to not live the inspired life, it is too long to spend it uninspired.
Read next: What’s Stopping You from Your Dream Job?