Your job and your life should complement—not compete with—each other. Everyone has bad days here and there; that’s normal. But if your job is affecting your personal life, your family, your coworkers and your desire to go to work…something’s amiss.
Everything is a choice, so I want you to contemplate this: Your job isn’t happening to you. You’ve chosen your job, and you have the power to decide how to respond to it. That could include reevaluating your daily habits, reexamining the amount of effort you put in each day or even considering a different position.
Before you look for a new job, though, consider getting clarity about what could be causing your bad days. You can do this by considering the answers to the following questions:
The first two questions depend on your firm’s business model, while the final two depend on your firm’s culture. And if you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s time to talk to your leaders and clarify expectations.
If you already have clear answers to these questions, but you have more bad days than good days, it may be time to examine your habits—your good work habits and your not-so-good habits.
Let’s start with the habits you should squash.
Before we get into the bad workplace habits that may be causing your less-than-ideal workdays, I want you to remember one thing: No one is perfect. We all make mistakes, and many leaders don’t expect perfection 100% of the time. Keeping that in mind, it’s best to be self-aware and know where to make improvements to improve our lives.
If you tend to start work early, skip lunch and work late most of the time, you will burn out. Working too much, without breaks, is a recipe for disaster. Setting boundaries to achieve work-life balance is essential, especially when you work from home. As you plan your day, schedule breaks (and take them!). Sometimes, working more than usual can’t be helped, but if it’s all the time? That’s a bad habit you’ll want to break.
No job will be rainbows and butterflies all the time, and there will be moments that upset you. But if you only focus on the negative things, everything else around you can get sucked into that negativity vortex. When you encounter a problem with something (or someone), try to come up with solutions instead of complaining. If you approach an issue with several solutions in your pocket, you’ll be a lot closer to resolving the problem.
Is your team unable to reach you during a typical workday, or do you fail to respond to urgent messages or requests? Are you afraid to speak up when you need help or are overloaded with work? If you don’t communicate with your team, you’ll start to feel like you’re stranded on a desert island. Stay in touch during the day—and remember it’s OK to ask for help when needed!
Is it time to learn a new application? Have you received feedback on how to improve? If you don’t take the steps to learn new skills or apply constructive feedback, you won’t grow personally or professionally. Everyone has room for improvement—and if you’re unwilling to learn, you risk your chances for success.
If you find that an entire workday has passed and you have nothing to show for it, you may be wasting time. Do you socialize all day or have trouble staying on task? If that’s the case, you may also be interrupting your coworkers and keeping them from their own work. It’s best to avoid distractions and focus on time management, especially with remote work.
If you’ve established some of these bad habits, just know you can make incremental changes to turn them around. Next, let’s take a look at good work habits that can help lead you to love your job.
Just like bad habits can be unlearned, good work habits can be learned—and, when you focus on applying them, those good work habits can make it easier to love your job.
Trust weaves its way through everything you do, whether at work or home. It’s the most important positive habit you can apply. What does that look like? Building trust starts with clarity, so it’s knowing where you’re going in your career and your position at your firm; it’s knowing how you’re doing; it’s asking for ways to improve.
The discussion around mental health has become more mainstream recently, and rightfully so. Being proactive when it comes to creating a work environment with a positive culture and providing resources for those suffering from burnout can help prevent burnout from happening in the first place.
I’m going to break this habit down into two parts:
Get outside your comfort zone and try something new, such as volunteering at a local shelter. Do something meaningful and selfless to help others. Helping others can improve your sense of self and well-being.
Choose to be present in the moment. Multi-tasking has become such a buzzword, but it can lead to distraction. Focus on one thing at a time. Listen to yourself and those around you. And at the end of the day, choose optimism. Remember, for every negative, there’s always a positive.
Remember what I said earlier: Your job isn’t happening to you. You have a choice. Choose to apply good work habits and unlearn the bad ones. Remind yourself to look at things in a positive light…and to learn from the less-than-pleasant situations we occasionally encounter. And I can just about promise you if you can do all these things, you’ll discover that you really do love your job.
If you’re interested in learning real ideas from real firms for improving your good work habits, join me at our Empower conference, May 1-3, in Denver, Colorado. I’d love to help guide you to the place where you love your job!
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