Many of us have to work for a living. We need money to cover our overheads and responsibilities, hopefully with some left over for a few treats and incidental expenses along the way. Earning enough in the best way we can may well be the main preoccupation in our minds.
So often we feel compelled to make compromises when it comes to our work; we may take on a role we don't especially like, feel obliged to humour a difficult boss, commute large distances, keep unsociable hours in order to retain our work position. For a time this may be a necessary negotiation, it's vital in order to keep the different areas of our life afloat.
Some days will be better than others, so what makes a good day at work?
- Someone smiling as we walk through the door can lift our spirits, particularly if, prior to arriving at work, our day has already been rather fraught. I'm reminded of one of my clients who managed a large call centre. Her mission at the start of each working day was to identify the most frazzled member of her team, then go and sit chatting with them until they started to smile. That simple action improved everyone's day.
- Planning the day ahead can be a good way to ensure that we start each day in the right frame of mind. Sometimes unexpected challenges or opportunities may arise, but having a to-do list can provide a structure for our efforts.
- When we achieve what we set out to do it's always a good day at work. That may be because we've done something we know we're good at. We can relax as we aim to do it exceptionally well. Yes, there's the stress to do a good job, especially if we're regarded as an expert in our field. There's the motivation to excel and not let ourselves down, but when we're comfortable with the skills required we can enjoy performing those tasks. Remember too to congratulate yourself on what you achieve.
- Feeling there's some flexibility to accommodate new demands, emergencies and opportunities can help us manage stress and have a good day. It's important that we're not working to full capacity all the time. Being able to adapt whenever an unexpected or attractive new request comes along can bring an enthusiastic, motivated feeling to the day.
- When we've been significantly challenged and come through, perhaps had to acquire new skills and dig deep, it can really improve our confidence and self-esteem. Doing something we're not sure about, maybe being new to a task, means that we may have to learn something in stages, undergo some training. Practising, challenging ourselves, making mistakes, moving out of our comfort zone can be uncomfortable at first but can ultimately lead to a good day at work. We can then start to feel better, more proficient, having achieved something unexpected.
- Ever put off doing something you dread or don't like? This can impact on your health and wellbeing as those tasks are unlikely to disappear by themselves. Once you start to tackle them it can bring a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Most of us have jobs that we're not too eager to tackle; admin and book-keeping certainly head-up my list. But doing a little each day or allocating a particular time each week to keep on top of those tasks can result in a good day at work. This helps you better manage stress, which supports your health and overall wellbeing
- Appreciation can be an important component in having a good day at work. Someone's perhaps listened to our suggestions and taken them on board or has noticed how hard we've worked and has given recognition and credit where it's due. None of us can fully appreciate the effort and sacrifices that someone may have made when undertaking a task for us. Gratitude and a simple acknowledgement demonstrates good manners and can make a significant difference to each other's day.
- Quality interactions with others are important too, especially for those who work from home, where they may sometimes go for days without seeing a friendly face. It's important to set aside time to meet others, perhaps through networking or scheduling a coffee or a short break to catch up and discuss challenges and experiences. Ensure you reinforce your relationships with friends and colleagues as well as at home, meeting with people who like you, are supportive and are interested in talking to you about you in a non-work-related way.
A good day at work can have many elements to it. Doing a good job, where you deliver what your client or customer is looking for, perhaps anticipating their needs and being recognised as skilled, maybe even an expert, is certainly one positive way. Also important is investing in your relationships both at work and at home, so establishing a good support network around you.
Don't forget to allow a little time away from work for yourself, time to enjoy your hobbies and interests, read a book or maybe just sit and enjoy a coffee doing nothing. That too contributes to your day at work being all the more fulfilling and positive an experience.