Love Your Job? Don't Expect It To Love You Back
Career Growth

Love Your Job? Don't Expect It To Love You Back

JUST BECAUSE YOU'VE FOUND THE CAREER THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY, DOESN'T MEAN YOUR CAREER IS HAPPY FOR YOU.

Have you ever had a “perfect” job? Early in my career, I thought I’d found one. I handled rewarding projects, worked on a beautiful college campus with fantastic coworkers, and never had to stay later than 5 p.m. Sounds amazing, right? For two blissful years, it was.

Until it wasn’t.

One day, I sadly told my supervisor I’d be leaving the job in a month to follow my significant other to Phoenix. My replacement, Andi, was hired a few days later. Andi made it clear that she wanted me to leave, ASAP. Before long, I felt like everyone in the office had turned against me. The job I loved so much had suddenly gone sour. 

That’s when I realized an important truth I’ve carried with me ever since: it’s okay to love your job, but don’t expect it to love you back.

Are you one of the lucky few who honestly loves her job? Hopefully your experience at work will always be wonderful. But because change is natural, but not always for the better, it’s best to safeguard against emotional devastation before things get crazy at the office.

Here are four practical strategies to help you take charge of your mindset, love your life, and avoid needing work to love you back:

1. BE THE CEO OF YOUR CAREER

Rather than seeing yourself as an employee at the mercy of your company, focus on using and developing your skill set. Productivity authority Brian Tracy calls this being “the leader of your own corporation.”

This week, start owning your time by setting a day-end deadline for leaving the office. 

Imagine yourself as the CEO of your own consulting firm, applying your skills to propel your current client (your company) forward. What services are you providing to your client that you could implement at another organization? How could you use your current role to expand your abilities? If life eventually becomes difficult at the office, you can chose to stay and learn from the experience, or you can simply take your skills and apply them elsewhere. Either way, you’re in charge.

2. OWN YOUR TIME

Is your week a constant stream of “wake up… go to work… come home… watch tv… go to bed”? I’ve been there. It’s not much of a life, is it? If the only real stimulation in our schedules comes from the office, we’re giving up our power and relying on work to make us happy.

If you often work late, ask yourself why. Are you spending a little too much time chatting with coworkers? Are you simply trying to appear dedicated? At one previous job, I frequently remained at my desk after-hours, mindlessly clicking through emails just to look busy until my boss went home. Embarrasing, but true.

This week, start owning your time by setting a day-end deadline for leaving the office. Adjust your day as needed so you can leave on time.

3. MAKE YOUR BODY HAPPY

Do you hear Starbucks calling your name everyday after 2 p.m.? It’s tough to feel happy and find time for things we love when we’re constantly tired. Forget that afternoon espresso shot. Sleep, movement and water can create a magical (and cheap!) “energy elixir” for your day. {click to tweet}

If sleeping seven to eight hours a night seems unattainable, start going to bed 30 minutes earlier by creating a bedtime ritual to help your body unwind. I like to turn off my computer an hour before bedtime, write my to-do list for the next day, and read for 20 minutes before turning out the light.

The novelty of a new activity provides an instant happiness boost and pursuing it regularly adds an exciting dimension to our lives. 

Exercising in a way you enjoy will also give you energy. Getting outside for a walk around the block on your lunch hour or joining an early morning spin class can positively impact how you view yourself and your life. And because dehydration makes us sleepy, keep a water bottle at your desk and try to refill it once or twice a day. 

4. FOLLOW YOUR CURIOSITY

What hobby, favorite activity, or a bigger dream have you put aside because you’ve been focused on your job? Maybe you’ve thought about taking a pottery class, starting a fashion blog or joining the community kickball league. This week, take the first step needed to pursue that interest.

According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, engaging in hobbies outside the office can improve your performance on the job. But the emotional rewards go beyond work productivity. The novelty of a new activity provides an instant happiness boost and pursuing it regularly adds an exciting dimension to our lives. 

When we truly love our jobs, it can be easy to neglect our lives outside the office. But when you take charge of your at-work mindset and implement steps to start loving the rest of your life, you’ll remember that work isn’t all you’ve got going for you. Yeah, you love that job. But you don’t need it to love you back.

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Which of these tips will you be trying out this week? Tell us in the comments below.