How to Stay Positive at Work

10 Ways to Stay Positive at Work, Even When You Hate Your Job

Do you hit snooze again and again every time your alarm clock heralds the start of yet another dreadful day with a shrill ominous ring? You can’t bear the thought of yet another horrible day at work because let’s face it … you hate your job!

We have all been stuck in the grind at some point or another – you know, the same usual; nodding along in agreement listlessly, working weekends, burning the midnight oil. If you are no stranger to Sunday scaries or if you feel bogged down by negative vibes in your office, you might want to ponder an attitude shift and consider how to stay productive at work. Unfortunately, work isn’t always fun, and it doesn’t always make you feel good, and not all of us can afford to quit our 9-5 and kick off a million-dollar venture. But you don’t have to walk around under a cloud all day.

For instance, my friend Kara came to me the other day, ranting about how much she needed a new job. Apparently, she couldn’t stand her work environment anymore and wanted to make a change ASAP before she started destroying office equipment! While I promised to pull a few strings for her and help her find another job, I was worried that she would implode if she didn’t do something about her current situation in the meantime. I could see that her negative attitude at work was not only impacting her performance, but also wreaking havoc on her health.

I tried explaining to her how changing her perspective towards things and trying to stay positive at work might make her job less of a slog, even if it’s not her life’s calling. Ranting out won’t help, but there are actual ways to keep from being bummed out every morning when her alarm went off. Here’s what I told her:

10 Ways How to Stay Positive at Work

1. Leave work at work

It’s important to have time to yourself, your friends, and to engage in your hobbies. If, after coming home from an 8-hour workday, you fire up your laptop, and do some more work, how will you ever find it in yourself to be excited to go back to work the next day. Make sure to leave work at work; no exceptions. If you have tasks pending at clock out, schedule them for the morning after, but don’t let them tag along. Its not easy not to think about work while you’re at home, but with practice, you can tune out every work-related thought. If you don’t think about work even once after coming home, you will feel rejuvenated each morning when it’s time to go back to office.

2. Build relationships with coworkers

Until you make friends at work, your work environment wont be comfortable. You don’t have to know their children’s names and every intimate detail about their personal lives, but having a good back and forth with associates, bosses, and co-workers will make your workplace more animated and inviting. Nurturing a friendly and helpful community at work will help you feel more supported in your work duties, and not to mention, having a few good friends at work can really help cut stress levels.

3. Practice gratitude

You may hate your job, but have you ever thought about what would happen if you didn’t have it in the first place? Practice gratitude in your daily routine; think about all the things you are thankful for and watch your mentality shift. Gratitude gets rid of toxic emotions and improves your psychological health. Furthermore, not complaining about your situation round the clock will give you the ultimate piece of mind, and leave you free to focus on making your life better.

4. Think through the worst-case scenario

Do you ever get so deeply stuck in a problem that it clouds your thinking and you feel like its all that you can think about? Here’s how to Stay Positive in Life despite the thunderclouds:

Let’s say there’s a problem that is making you toss and turn at night. The best way to conquer your paranoia is to ask yourself, “what’s the worst that can happen?” Most of the times, you will be surprised to know that the worst-case scenario isn’t even that bad.

If you think it is disastrous, at least, you can take steps in advance to avoid it or be prepared to face it as it comes. If you have a big presentation looming ahead, don’t bite your nails in apprehension; run through the presentation over and over under different situations, no matter how devastating they seem, until you are confident that you are covered. Try to think of every possible question a viewer can ask you and have answers ready in case. Test your equipment and bring backup so that your technology won’t fail you on presentation day. Remember, the stakes aren’t always as high as you are making them to be. We all have a propensity for exaggeration.

As Bailey-Huges puts it, “Our minds can dream up the best stories of humanity or the worst. Practice the mental flexibility of challenging your own negative stories”.

5. Take Small Breaks

Even though your boss wants you to become a workaholic and toil away like there’s no tomorrow, it is impossible for any human. As for me, if I sit glued to my laptop for even 3-4 hours straight, without getting away once, I can feel my head spinning, flushing all productivity down the drain. Anybody who asks me the secret of how to how to stay positive and happy at work, I tell them to take breaks.

Your main purpose is to drive results, and believe me, it all comes down to how efficient you are rather than how busy you appear to be. An employee who yields great results but isn’t always devotedly riveted to his seat is more valuable to the company than one who appears to be nose busy in work all day but has nothing to show for it!

It’s ok to take small breaks during your worktime to increase your productivity and positivity in the midst of everyday hustle. If you can manage it, take small 5-minute breaks every hour, stretch your legs, go outside, and take a sip of fresh air. It’s up to you how you organize your breaks, but make sure you work them in periodically.

6. Surround yourself with positive people

Remember the age-old adage: “birds of a feather flock together”. Either people in a group become the same over time or similar natured people find each other. People you hang out with the most have a deeper impact on you than you think. When you hang around with people who are avid whiners or exude negativity from every fiber of your being, it rubs off on you. Before you know it, you will be complaining with them, and see the world as negative as they do. Try to stick to people who have new ideas, who love what they do, and who are always motivated to try lots of other things besides work. It’ll make your whole outlook towards life better.

You can’t choose who you work with, but you can control about how much time you spend with them. For instance, if your have a lot of negative people right in your team, be careful not to partake in their non-work-related discussions. Choose other colleagues to have lunch with, take regular breaks, and keep away from breakroom drama.

7. Remember that no one owes you anything

You can’t just saunter through life acting as if people owe you. Life’s not fair but it’s the same for everyone. If you believe otherwise, you will be stuck in a vicious cycle of joylessness, passive-aggressiveness, anger, victimhood, and blame. And what feeds off it all: negativity! If you want to rid yourself of this attitude of entitlement, keep repeating these mantras:

  • It’s up to me to make things happen.
  • I will keep going when the going gets difficult
  • I have to be willing to accept change quickly
  • Hard work is what brings good things

Instead of wallowing in negativity, waiting for someone to step up and deal with your issues, know that only you can improve your life.

8. Reward yourself

Sure, a hefty paycheck at the end of a tiring month is reward enough, sometimes you need a little something more to stay positive at work. Research shows that both long-term and immediate rewards help people stay laser-focused on goals.

When we think about how to stay positive in life, immediate rewards seem more tempting, because let’s face it: we all need a little instant gratification from time to time. You need to work immediate rewards into your everyday work-plan, so that you are always reminded of that golden pot at the end of the rainbow.

Try the if-then motto: if I finish the first 10 slides of this presentation, then I get a cappuccino. I reply to three pressing emails back-to-back, then I have earned myself 5 minutes of guilt-free me time. And so forth.

For the big one, you can plan something for after work as a reward for tirelessly working all day. Review on Friday? Why don’t I finally plan the meet-up I have been thinking about for days? Big meeting on Wednesday? Perhaps I would go buy that cashmere sweater I so wanted! You get the point.

Knowing you have something to look forward to or doing something that makes you happy in the moment can make you stay more positive at work.

9. Don’t stress over things you can’t control

You can’t control what happens in your organization, even when you think you have the perfect solution. Try sticking it up to the upper management, or even your boss. There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling useless when you have the solution. That sucks! But remember that while you can’t everything else, you can control yourself. So, learn to let go of things that are not in your hands.

10. In the End, Fake It Until You Make It.

No, this is not hypocrisy! Here’s the thing; sometimes we don’t always “feel” the emotion we want to feel. Don’t just sit around, waiting for it to come upon us! You often have to fake it until the real deal arrives. Don’t feel happy about an upcoming office event? Don’t feel excited about a presentation? Try faking it, not just in front of your colleagues, but even to yourself. The real emotion will show up on its own. You’re not going to feel positive and super excited every day, but you can eventually make yourself believe it!

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