I read a startling statistic recently that 70% of Americans hate their jobs. And considering how many people complain about Mondays, I'm willing to bet that the numbers are just as bad in many other countries. Perhaps this is why so many people dream of freelancing or becoming creative entrepreneurs. We idealize the idea of working from home, meeting our girlfriends for long lunches, and only sitting down at our desk when we want to. But speaking from experience, being self-employed is a real grind and comes with a lot of risk. You're not even guaranteed a pay cheque, after all. And with all that pressure and a never ending to-do list, it's possible for it to be just as miserable as any office job. Plus there's usually a long road between getting started and actually quitting your day job.
So whether a freedom-based business is your ideal future or not, it's time to stop postponing our happiness for evenings and weekends or worse - retirement! We spend at least 40 hours per week at our desks and to truly love ourselves and design our lives, that includes the hours between 9 and 5 as well. To get you started, here are some tips for loving life at the office.
Build a Killer Morning Routine
If you wake up dreading work and you're loathe to even get out of bed, you're setting the tone for the entire day. Instead, take a tip from Tony Robbins and leap out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off. We're the most receptive and impressionable first thing in the morning, so make the most of that time by building a daily practice that nourishes you on every level. I've written a whole post on how to do this in a way that works for you and I'm sure that you'll feel better at work when you've started your day in a way that fills you up.
Remember Why You're There
I think this step is two fold: remind yourself what your job affords you outside of office hours, as well as what you're creating while you're there.
Does your job allow you the freedom to pursue your passions in the evenings? Does it give you money to fill your fridge with delicious foods? Are you saving for your dream holiday?
And what about the work that you're doing. Does it contribute to a larger mission? Is it making the world a better place? Is it allowing you to build new skills or create new experiences? Does it contribute to who you want to be as a person, such as someone who is reliable and hardworking?
If you're struggling to answer these questions, force yourself to sit down and think of at least 10 reasons why you're grateful for your job. When you start to have "woe is me" thoughts about being at the office, use simple mantras or phrases that remind you of what your job is allowing you to do. You might even want to find some visible reminders, like photos or quotes, to put on your desk. By cultivating an attitude of gratitude for your work, you're recalibrate how you think about your job.
Be an Active Participant
How can you carve out a role that is better suited to your skills and interests? How could the organisation you work for improve the work that they do? How could they make the working environment better? If there's something you think could be done differently to benefit everyone, give that feedback in a polite and constructive way. By helping to shape your workplace and your job, you'll feel more invested in it and like a more valuable member of the team.
Create Decadent Rituals
My friend Caz knows how to infuse the mundane and everyday with luxury and decadence - in fact she writes an entire website about it. So it's no surprise that only a couple of weeks into her new job she'd started a ritual of salted caramel hot chocolate runs with her coworkers on Friday afternoons. Some other friends started a cheese club at their office. Once a month someone would buy a bottle of wine and everyone else would bring in a different cheese. They'd knock off an hour early and have a mini wine and cheese party. How fun is that?!
Work doesn't have to be all spreadsheets and pull-your-hair-out boring meetings. You could take turns bringing in dessert on Mondays or indulge in extra fancy coffees on Fridays. Little treats give everyone something to look forward to and make the office a bit more fun.
Get to Know Your Co-Workers
Make a point of talking to at least one of your co-workers about something that's not work-related every day, even the ones you don't know very well. Ask them about their families, their dreams, and their favourite places to go on holiday. Ask them what they do on the weekend and what their biggest passions are. If you feel like the conversation is lagging, probe them to go deeper by asking "why?" and showing genuine curiosity about their lives. People love to talk about themselves, so you'll become everybody's favourite around the office and you'll also feel connected to the people you spend 40+ hours a week with.
Make Lunch a Mini Holiday
You have one luscious hour in the middle of the day that's all yours, so why not make the most of it? For a few weeks I was reading Roald Dahl books on my lunch breaks. I could get through one every few days and the daily dose of childhood nostalgia really made me smile. Choose to make your lunch break really fun and special. Scribble about your daydreams in a journal. Pack your favourite foods to eat. Go to the park and paint your nails. Work on your side hustle or passion project. Plan a date with a friend who works nearby. Create a routine you love or mix it up and add in new things all of the time so it's always exciting.
Kit Out Your Desk
I wrote a post about kitting out your home desk for creative explosions, but how can you add a bit of fun and whimsy to your desk at the office? Your work environment will dictate how much you can get away with but even a few framed photos and an inspirational quote will make your workspace more appealing. Pick up a few coloured pens. Decorate your binders with washi tape. Balance a funny action figure on top of your computer monitor. Stash your favourite snacks in a drawer. Make your desk a more fun place to be and infuse it with a little bit of your personality.
Sometimes, learning to love life at the office is just about adjusting your attitude and choosing different thoughts. So when you hear Negative Nancy piping up inside your head again to moan about how much you hate being there, tell her to be quiet and choose a more grateful, loving thought instead. This is your life and you get to decide how it looks and feels - even at work.
Do you have any tips for not just bearing life at the office, but celebrating it? I'd love to hear!
Love, pixie sticks, & glow-in-the-dark markers,
Photographs from Merci New York.