Finding happiness at work may depend more on your perspective than issues with the job itself, David Allan writes for CNN.
Job happiness doesn't come easy for a lot of people: More than half of U.S. workers are dissatisfied with their jobs, according to a recent survey from the Conference Board research group. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Allan explains that three factors contribute to job happiness: The desire for control over our lives, making positive connections with other people, and deriving meaning from our work. Allan says it's possible to integrate these needs through "job crafting," a term coined by Amy Wrzesniewski, a psychologist at Yale University, and Jane Dutton, a professor of business administration and psychology at the University of Michigan.
Allan cites a study in which Dutton and Wrzesniewski explain that job crafting is about "taking control of, or reframing, some of these factors" that contribute to job satisfaction.
In other words, Allan says, finding satisfaction at work means that you need to "take matters into your own hands."
He shares the exercises inspired by Wrzesniewski and Dutton's research that he uses at work:
Identify the good and bad parts of your job
Make a list of all the things you enjoy about your job, things you dislike about your job, and things you would like to do in your job that you currently don't. Take a look at the last two lists—what do you have the power to change about your job that would make you happier? Some goals may be more difficult to achieve than others, but you don't have to take drastic action to make work more enjoyable. As time goes on, your list of things that make you happy about your job will grow.
Build better relationships with your colleagues
You spend a lot of time with your coworkers, so why not make the most of those relationships? Spend time with colleagues both in and out of work and get to know them on a more personal level. Having friends at work can make your job bearable, and may even get you excited to come into the office. And that goodwill toward your neighbors is contagious—the more effort you put into your work relationships, the happier your coworkers will be.
Look at your job in a new way
As part of their research, Wrzesniewski and Dutton looked at a group of hospital cleaning staff. The job can be difficult and messy, but those who enjoyed it focused less on these qualities and more on the important role they play in helping patients. One person even referred to the position as being an "ambassador" for the hospital.
"It's more than just a change of mindset," Wrzesniewski says. "It's a change in your behavior approach to your job. If you think 'I'm an ambassador to the hospital,' it changes what you do" (Allan, CNN, 9/5).
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