Make The Most Of Your Career
If you’ve ever felt apathetic or demotivated at work, you’re not alone. More than 70 percent of people don’t feel satisfied in their jobs. While job apathy happens for many reasons—poor management, lack of community amongst coworkers, boredom—it is most often experienced by those of us (mainly millennials) who feel our jobs are meaningless. Known as the generation willing to take a pay cut if it means our work matters, feeling disengaged is an all too common occurrence that transcends every industry.
Job apathy can be detrimental to our careers, as well as to our personal relationships, health, and wellbeing. By practicing some of these mindful habits though, we can overcome the negative feelings and find meaningful work right where we are.
1. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Reflect on the positive aspects of your workday
Negative thoughts lead to negative feelings. We all know this, yet it can be incredibly challenging to think positive when we find ourselves in a job that feels meaningless. If you don’t already keep a gratitude journal, now is an excellent time to start. By cultivating positive thinking habits and focusing on the day’s moments that fulfill us, we can find meaning, as well as joy.
Begin by creating a sacred space for yourself at the end of your work day; five to ten minutes is all you need. Shut down your computer, grab a calming cup of tea, and take a few moments to breathe, allowing any stress or discouragement from the day to fall from you. Once you feel grounded, begin writing down the positive moments from the workday, as well as any other positive thoughts that come to mind. Keep the journal in your desk or bag, using it on the more challenging days to remind yourself of past meaningful moments and the things you are grateful for.
2. Seek Learning Opportunities
Challenge yourself and grow your skills
When we are challenged and consistently learning new skills, whether in the workplace or not, we feel a sense of meaning. Solving problems, learning about unfamiliar subjects, and creating more efficient systems and solutions helps us to stay engaged. And we feel valuable; even if the task is inconsequential, challenging ourselves and expanding our skillsets feels meaningful. We as people find a sense of self and purpose when we learn new things.
If you’re experiencing job apathy, it could be a result of boredom. Consider asking your boss for more challenging projects and stimulating tasks. If none exist, why not create and propose your own? You can also take a class to excel your skills; many companies will even reimburse employees for furthering their education.
3. Cultivate Work Relationships
Foster community with your coworkers
Unless you work from home (in which case you might consider joining a co-working space), you most likely spend your day in an office with people. Chances are, there are other employees also struggling to engage with work as well; we all experience job apathy at one point or another. Building authentic and meaningful relationships with your coworkers can help with overcoming disengagement and feelings of apathy.
While it may feel uncomfortable to reach out, chances are your coworkers are looking for deeper relationships too. If your company does not already host events and gatherings outside the office, consider initiating a casual get-together. Even simple social activities, like having lunch with your team or organizing a happy hour can help build community and make your days in the office more meaningful.
4. Practice Self-Care
Live with intention—on and off the clock
Just like job apathy can affect our personal lives, forgetting to practice self-care can also impact the way we value (or don’t value) our work; the two are interchangeable. Feeling disengaged in our careers can make it more challenging to care for ourselves outside of the office, while forgetting to practice self-care at home can further perpetuate our negative feelings about our job.
Consider asking yourself a few questions: Do I care for my mind and my body before and after working hours through adequate rest, meditation, and nutritious food? What self-care habits do I practice on the weekends? Am I investing in meaningful relationships and purposeful living outside of the office? Moreover, am I taking care of myself at work? Do I benefit from fresh air and sunlight, even if only on my lunch break? Am I staying hydrated and remembering to breathe through stressful moments during the day?
The link between physical wellness and mental wellbeing is inescapable. Our environments also impact our state of mind and can significantly affect how we feel about our workspace (here’s your excuse to buy more office plants).
Some practical tips to help subside apathy you may be feeling include drinking calming beverages rather than caffeine, stepping outside for a few moments throughout the day, and eating whole foods at the office and at home. Exercising, spending time with the ones you love, reading your favorite books, and playing in nature can also cultivate positive feelings, even during the seasons that your career seems to be lacking meaning.
5. Give Back to the Community
Volunteer your time and donate to charitable organizations
While many of us would love to work for organizations that fight for human rights and spearhead environmental initiatives, the reality is that this is a small percentage of companies in the workspace. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t pursue work in the nonprofit sector if it aligns with your goals and skillsets, but it is possible to find meaning in your career without directly working for a social enterprise.
One of the best ways to overcome job apathy is to give back to your community, whether through volunteering your time or monetary donations. If the company you work for doesn’t currently support a local cause or charity, speak with your management about organizing a fundraiser or give-back program. Volunteering for a cause you care about alongside coworkers is also a great way to foster meaningful connection and community.
Kayti Christian, a staff writer for The Good Trade, is a storyteller, creator, activist, and avid traveler hailing from Colorado, now living in London. With 30+ stamps in her passport, she is passionate about responsible tourism and is always looking for new ways to be a more conscious traveler. She is currently pursuing her MA in Creative Nonfiction Writing at City, University of London.