3 ways you didn't know work could be fun
When we think about setting an important goal, we come up with all the reasons why it will be so hard. We think about all the things that could go wrong, all the reasons we may fail.
Often, this is enough to keep us from even trying.
But sometimes we set a goal and despite all the potential things that could go wrong, we try anyway.
Why do we do this sometimes and not others?
The answer is two-fold.
#1 We have a deep belief that the work will be worth it, that the positive impact of achieving it extends beyond just the benefit of the goal itself.
#2 We believe that we can do the necessary work, and that maybe it won’t be that bad.
So, let’s talk about the goal of feeling better at work.
Difficult? It doesn’t have to be.
Worth it? Hell yeah.
Imagine the impact that feeling better at work would have on all aspects of your life. What would it mean for your work day? How would it affect your relationships outside of work? How would it affect your energy?
Now, imagine it could be fun to do the work necessary to achieve this and not terrible. It doesn’t involve hours of squats or planks. It doesn’t require never having sugar again. It doesn’t require becoming a master of meditation or becoming a doormat for the people around you.
It can be fun. Really.
There are tons of ways to make it fun, but let’s start with 3.
#1. Look for 10 ways to be intentionally kind in an hour. Make sure you count them.
This may sound a little ridiculous, especially since the work we do is already service based.
Let me explain.
I first tried this strategy at the airport of all places.
I have a lot of anxiety about getting TO the airport and THROUGH security. I don’t have anxiety about travel or flying, just getting to the gate on time.
Truthfully, anxiety won’t kill me but I HATE the way it feels: the edginess, the tightness in my chest, the sweating. I have tried to think my way out of it but as anyone with anxiety knows, logic often doesn’t help.
So I tried this strategy.
I decided to do 25 intentional acts of kindness from the time I parked my car to the time I got on the plane. If I could do it before security, that would be even better.
I was extra pleased with the shuttle driver.
I let the mom with the stroller go in front of me in line (drastic, I know).
I complimented the woman next to me on her outfit.
You get the idea.
I was so busy looking for nice things to do that I didn’t have time to feel aggravated, I redirected my brain. If it has time and space to be agitated, it has time and space to be kind.
This works at work too. Don't’ knock it till you try it.
#2. Have a 5 minute funeral.
This is a strategy that I learned from a business mastermind that I was part of. The participants were discussing it as it pertained to planning and executing something that didn’t work at all (aka failure). The idea is that you feel bad about it for 5 minutes, you have a pity party, you feel wronged… and then you move on.
This strategy is great for work because there are times that things are going to trigger us. No matter how calm we are or how evolved and mindful we are, there are going to be times we are angry, upset, embarrassed or sad.
It’s ok. It’s normal. This happens no matter what type of work you do.
So give yourself a 5 minute funeral, mourn the loss of how you think things should have happened. Allow yourself to show some compassion to YOU. And then take a deep breath and try problem solving. Funeral over.
This brings us to one of my personal favorites, not only is it fun, it can help you get out of the funeral if you need help with that.
#3 Make up a new story.
If you loved to play make-believe as a child then this is for you.
If you didn’t, this is still for you.
This strategy can be done in response to something that made you mad (5 minute funeral mad) or can be done preemptively to set the stage for feeling good.
Look at the current story you are telling yourself about work. Don’t get defensive that I am calling it a story, after all, everything we think is constructed in our brains. We think in story lines, that’s how we make sense of things.
And this is REALLY good news because it means we can just as easily construct a different story, one that can be equally true.
Let me give you a real life example.
I will start with the actual facts, one that all parties involved could agree to.
A patient gets added onto my schedule, 20 minutes before the appointment time, without asking me first.
Our policy is that all same-day add ons have to be cleared by the provider PRIOR to scheduling.
Since I did not know that this patient was added on, I spent more time with the 2 patients leading up to the “open” appointment time.
My initial story:
“This is absolutely ridiculous, they know I hate running behind and now this will mess up the whole day. I have told the staff this 100 times and they just have absolutely no respect for me.”
A dramatic story, I know, one complete with villains and victims. I’m not proud to say that I actually said those words to my coworker…
But then I stopped myself. I didn’t want to feel angry and agitated. I didn’t WANT my whole day to be ruined. I didn’t want to stay in that energy.
So I constructed another story, one that could be equally true.
“This is fantastic news. Someone who really needed to be seen today just got in immediately. We have a chance to help one more person with their chronic pain today. YES!”
Admittedly, it started out as sarcasm but then the truth of it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I DID have the opportunity to help one more person, someone who really needed it.
I DID just give extra good care to the 2 previous patients.
I DID have the opportunity to be so good at managing my time that I could catch up.
Maybe the staff doesn’t respect me, maybe I would run behind. But that story made me feel awful so I wasn’t going to spend any time there.
My new story felt purposeful and compassionate.
That’s how this strategy was truly born, and now I use it all the time. Instead of deciding stories that make people villains and victims, I tell stories that acknowledge that all of us are just humans, all with finite skills, all with strengths AND weaknesses.
(and sometimes I make myself the hero).
These stories make me feel better.
Be a master re-framer, it’s ok if it starts out as a joke (it is fun that way), soon it will become second nature.
These are 3 strategies to get you started, 3 strategies that are fun, not torture.
Am I crazy? Maybe.
But I’m also happy at work.
If you struggle with seeing how these types of strategies can help your specific situation, reach out and schedule a call, we can figure it out together.