Aargh, it’s Monday! I HAVE to go to work.
Is this something you say or at least think to yourself every week? Do you hear it from your spouse, significant other or working kids? I used to say this and still do sometimes and I work for myself!
Why is it that we are all so unhappy about going to work? Or at best not looking forward to it?
My opinion is that in our country we are taught, programed and/or expected to think work is, well, WORK.
We also have a bias toward separating work and life, keeping them far apart. They are in different buckets and thus require trade-offs to be made to satisfy one or the other.
This is the root cause of poor work-life balance, in my humble opinion. And it is based on an inherited belief that is outdated and past its expiration date!
Work is WORK.
You see the majority of our beliefs are quite literally installed in our heads as children. We didn’t get the chance to think about them, evaluate them for the benefits they may bring, debate between alternatives, we simply didn’t get a choice; these beliefs were programmed into our brains without our knowledge.
They set the stage for our current mindset about everything in life, including how we approach and think about work.
Here’s a great quote from Tony Robbins on this topic:
“Our beliefs are like unquestioned commands, telling us how things are, what’s possible and impossible and what we can and cannot do. They shape every action, every thought and every feeling that we experience. As a result, changing our belief systems is central to making any real and lasting change in our lives.”
The good news is, you DO have a choice now. You are no longer a child and have a fully functioning pre-frontal cortex, hopefully!
You can choose to change your mindset about your work, which will impact your experience on a daily basis.
There is a theory in neuroscience called the ‘Expectancy Theory.’ It posits that just by thinking about something, say the drudgery of going to work, you cause your brain and body to react as if that something is actually happening.
So just thinking that work is a grind makes you feel, both emotionally and physically, as if it is a grind. As Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage states:
‘The mental construction of our daily activities, more than the activity itself, defines our reality.’
The mind is a powerful thing to waste on making yourself miserable.
You have the power, now take the time to do something about it. Stop wasting valuable energy on being miserable.
Here are four steps to take to begin to change your mindset about your work.
A) Identify what your mindset actually is.
What do you think or say to yourself on Sunday night about getting up for work in the morning? What are the words? What are the feelings that go along with those words?
Encapsulate those words and feelings into a statement, take liberty to summarize or make assumptions that aren’t implicit in the words and feelings. Maybe it looks something like this: ‘Work is hard but something I have to do otherwise I will be a failure.’
B) Figure out what you do like about your job or that you are grateful for.
This doesn’t have to be rocket science or overly complex. Perhaps you like the mental challenge or the people or just the coffee in the break room. Maybe the commute is reasonable or the benefits are great or there is room for advancement. It doesn’t matter what it is, just that you identify it.
Make a list of at least 5 things that you do like or appreciate about your job.
C) Create a new belief and mindset.
Based on what you uncover, shape a new way of thinking about work that actually brings you fulfillment. Maybe it sounds something like: ‘My work offers me intellectual challenge, in a safe environment and I work with good people that want to make a difference.’
Write it down. The simple act of writing it and seeing the words will help your brain adopt it as a new belief.
Read it to yourself every Sunday night. It will set you up for a better nights sleep and a better Monday!
Be sure that the words you chose set up a positive expectation, remember the ‘Expectancy Theory!’
D) Take your vacation days!
According to a recent study by Gfk, a global market research company, 24% of Americans did NOT take a vacation in 2017.
Another whooping 52% of Americans left vacation days unused last year.
No matter how much you love your job, you still need a break.
Do yourself a favor; schedule your time off now!