Oprah has a well known quote – “Do what you have to do so that you can do what you want to do.”
Her words are right on topic for today’s post about job negativity.
You have to work through job negativity before you get to do meaningful work. Everyone has parts of the job that drain them – things like negative coworkers, unreasonable bosses,and high-maintenance clients. The secret to meaningful work is to address job negativity so that you are free to do high energy work.
You have to start where you are, make the best of it – while you work toward where you want to be.
Find gratitude and meaning where you are to make the process of getting to the good stuff faster and more enjoyable.
Why do you need to address job negativity?
It is so important to deal with job negativity because negativity has a compounding effect that spreads throughout your entire life like a virus. A recurring negative situation, like a coworker who drives you crazy day after day, can start to poison interactions with other people. Then, after a bad day at work, you can come home and carry that negativity into your conversations with your kids and spouse.
The fastest path to finding meaning at your job is to eliminate blocks – job negativity being the biggest culprit. Make eliminating job negativity a priority and all aspects of your life will feel the benefit. When you are in a positive mood – that too can spread like a virus breeding more positive things.
The dangerous downward spiral
When you let workplace gripes consume you, you will find that you feel depressed and spend time a lot of your time complaining. Your job will feel a ball and chain, dragging you down. Others will start to avoid you and as you begin to feel isolated, you will withdraw even more. This downward spiral often leads to the growth of bad habits like overeating, drinking, not exercising and not taking care of yourself in general.
At one point in my career I was surrounded by negative colleagues. I found myself joining in on the negative gossip and complaining to the point where I dreaded my job. I was miserable at home and taking it out on my husband and my two children. Everywhere I turned there was another thing to complain about. My good health habits went out the window as I snacked on sugary treats all day. When I got home, I would flop down on the couch in front of the TV instead of working out.
I wasn’t able to do the creative work I wanted to do. I felt “stuck.” A job that I once enjoyed now felt pointless. It became a series of “issues” that had to be dealt with.
One day I realized that I had spent over 4 hours “stirring the pot” at work instead of actually doing my job. It was then that it hit me – something had to change. I didn’t want to feel all this negativity, yet here I was spreading it around.
I felt drained all the time and I was so depressed. Do you feel that way right now?
Breaking free of the job negativity vortex
When you are able to address job negativity, you will suddenly see opportunities everywhere. Things like opportunities to meet new people, new job projects that excite you, and by spending less time complaining, you have more time to do things you enjoy.
People who are still stuck in the complaining mode will start to avoid you because you won’t be joining in on their conversation.
It is possible to find good in every situation if you truly look for it. If good can be found in a concentration camp, certainly you can find in your job.
Think of all the good that surrounds you at work:
- environment – do you have a nice workstation where you can put up personal photos?
- Technology – do you have great software to work with or a laptop you can move around with?
- Parking – do you have a nice safe parking lot with good lighting?
- water/cafe – do you have clean, cold drinking water and access to healthy food?
- walking path – do you have a place around work to go for a walk on your lunch break
After my “stirring the pot” epiphany, I took a hard look at my job. I could either quit and take my chances somewhere else. OR I could realize that I was the one creating my depression by focusing on the negative. If I didn’t change, it wouldn’t matter where I worked. I would create the same job negativity somewhere else. I was responsible to myself for solving the problem. If I wanted a job with meaning, the solution wasn’t to change the job, it was to change me.
5 Ways to Eliminate Job Negativity
Now that you know how important eliminating job negativity is to your growth, let’s move to how to you eliminate it.
Here are my top 5 ways that you can start using today:
1. Go on a Negativity Diet
A co-worker shared this one with me. Here’s how she used it. When someone would start to complain to her she would stop them mid-sentence, hold up her hand and say “wait – stop.” “I am on a negativity diet so I can’t have this conversation with you.”
People were shocked and the complaining stopped immediately. I think this is such a cool strategy.
2. Avoid situations that breed complaining
You know exactly where staff feel comfortable venting their frustrations – places like staff lounges, loading docks or smoking areas, or bathrooms. Avoid those areas at peak use times. Take your break at an unusual time. Use a less frequented bathroom. Eat your lunch outside or in a very public area where private conversations are hard to hold.
3. Take positivity breaks
Set a reminder on your phone to take a short break every hour. During this break go through things that you are grateful for right at that moment. Are you warm and dry? Is your computer working great? Is your chair comfortable? Is the sun shining? Take a look around you and focus only on things that you can feel positive about.
I did this and I felt the effects after about a day of doing it. At first it felt a little silly. However, I was so sick of feeling negative that I was willing to feel stupid for a few minutes every hour. After a day though, I really started to feel lighter. Give it a try.
4. Find mood lifters – music, scent, pictures
Surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Think of all your senses and see what you can add to your workstation.
- Favorite colors for your accessories
- A fun screen saver
- Pictures of family and pets
I have a fun little slinky and a squeeze ball that I play with when I am on the phone. I have a diffuser with a wonderful scent that I love. My calendar always has a beautiful sunset picture displayed and I change up my desktop wallpaper regularly.
Getting back to Oprah’s quote – do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do – how can you visualize those “want to do” things.
- If it’s a better job, what does that look like?
- If it’s to take trips, where would you go?
Create a little vision board that you can either have on your phone or print it and place it next to your computer monitor. Remind yourself of why you are doing what you are doing. What is it you are laying the groundwork for down the road?
One easy trick that I use all the time is that I surround myself with motivation and reminders of positivity. I use posters and quotes to keep how I want to feel front and center in my life. Create a positivity Pinterest board and collect positive images. Visit the Motivation for Life store to see my series of posters that you can add to your workspace.
Enjoying your job is up to you – you can focus on the negative and hate your job or you can focus on the positive and find meaning in what you do.
Now it’s time to take action – what are you going to do?