This post was originally going to be titled “10 Tips for Staying Motivated At Work,” but I felt compelled to simplify it with “10 Tips for Staying Happy At Work,” because that’s truly what this post comes down to. Staying happy when times (and work) get tough.
As a millennial, I have no shame in saying that I’m already at my 5th job post-grad (I graduated from college in May of 2013). That’s 5 jobs in the last 4 years (in case you were stumped on the math LOL).
During college I worked at Nordstrom (1) – it was great! Flexible schedule, competitive salary, benefits…and all that jazz. Balancing work, school, and blogging was fine while I was in college, but the moment I graduated, the need for a more stable job (and paycheck) was REAL.
Now, if you know my background and have read my blog for a while then you already know after college I was still living in San Diego, trying to figure out how to put my Fashion Merchandising degree to good use.
For my first “real” job out of college, I left Nordstrom and took a position as an Administrative Assistant (2) at a Durable Medical Equipment (DME) company (think talking to insurance companies about medical coverage I didn’t understand to then tell patients about their coverage and post-op machines that I couldn’t even picture in my head nor did I even know how to operate) from 8-5, M-F. It was brutal. BUT, it was the kick in the butt I needed to get myself the heck out of San Diego and into the city I belonged: Los Angeles.
That’s where I landed my first “real fashion job” as a *drum roll please* part-time INTERN for a young contemporary brand, Lucy Paris (3). Thankfully I hustled and got hired full-time within a month, which was how I was finally able to move out of my parents house and into an apartment that I could barely afford with my best friend.
After that job, I moved to James Jeans (4) as the Social Media Manager, and now I’m currently the Digital Marketing Director (5) at Subdued. It’s been a heck of a climb, and I’m ecstatic to look at how far I’ve come in just a few short years. I’m proud as hell, and definitely don’t give myself enough credit or celebrate my success as much as I should…but it’s fun to sit back and marvel at my journey thus far when I truly let myself.
Whether or not I loved or hated these jobs, that honeymoon phase wears off no matter how you spin it. We’re human. We get bored. We get frustrated. We get complacent. We get over things. That’s just how it goes.
As you all know, we spend MOST of our time at work; your coworkers become friends, and sometimes even family (shoutout to all my work wives), and eventually it starts to feel so redundant that we want to rip our hair out. We wonder what would happen if we just upped and moved one day. We think about calling out sick every morning we get in the car to make that drive. We wish our moms could just call us out for the day like they used to be able to do while we were in school. We just want to feel free from the jobs that cripple our mental well-being.
I’ve learned a lot in the last 4 years, but if I had to hone in on that one thing I tell anyone who is in the same boat as me, or a graduating senior – is that there is no such thing as the perfect job; I’ve worked as a freelancer and blogger throughout all of these careers, which even now I will classify as my *dream job*, and even THAT drives me crazy at times.
My first freelance client was so mean to me that I sat and cried in my car one day outside of my house, and called my mom because I felt so helpless and hurt. I felt like a failure. And I was technically my own boss in that position! That’s when I realized that you can’t truly find a job without any speed bumps, because that’s life. You just have to really work hard and make the best out of the situation you’re currently in.
Over the last few years, I’ve developed a few key practices that really make or break my day at work, so I thought I’d share those today!
- Stick with your morning routine, and allow yourself a lot of quiet time before you get into the office.
- My favorite thing to do in the morning is to turn on my favorite podcasts. They help me find my center, feel ready to tackle a long day at work, and get my mind working in a way that makes me feel way more prepared to start busting out my own new ideas at work. Another thing that makes a HUGE difference for me is working out before work. If I skip the gym or a workout class, I just feel off all day. Even if it’s a quick run, or 100 crunches…do something to get your heart rate going in the morning.
- Have a treat you reward yourself with as soon as you get in.
- For me, this is iced coffee. Sometimes I drink it while I’m getting ready so I can wake up, but it’s downright necessary for me to have a fresh cup for when I sit down to actually start my work. It’s kind of a mental thing at this point, but nothing comforts me or makes me feel ready to focus like a cup of my favorite coffee by my side.
- Keep a plant, picture frame, or small reminder of happy, positive feelings on your desk.
- Make your work area feel like yours. If your home decor brings you joy, find something that emulates that at work so you can have a piece of happiness sitting there, reminding you that it’s just work, and there are so many things in life to be happy for. Like succulents, marble details (I have a marble coaster for my coffee that I love), or pictures of happier times (AKA: anything not involving work).
- Give yourself at least 10-30 minutes a day to be outside for fresh air.
- I’m actually THE WORST at this, but when I get myself up and out of the office, it really makes a difference. If you feel guilty about stepping away from your desk (which you SHOULDN’T) gear your walk towards something work-related to train yourself into feeling like it’s okay to leave for a second. I work near 3rd Street Promenade for a clothing company, so it even helps just to window shop and see what competitors are up to for 30 min. Even if I don’t see anything I like, I’m able to pinpoint what I don’t like and think about how I could change an idea to make it work better for my company.
- Listen to your favorite music in headphones when you need to stay focussed.
- Like I said, I work for a clothing store – our HQ is a loft above the clothing store, so I can hear everything. The store’s music, customers, coworkers, cars outside, you name it…it’s all there. Sometimes when I really need to stay focused and get shit done, I put on my headphones and turn my music on loud enough to block out all of the other noise. It helps me to have on my own selection of music playing in my ear as opposed to simply listening to what the store is playing. It makes me have a kind of tunnel vision, but on a more forced level (which I need). I’m literally blocking out everything going on around me with my music, and it’s just me, myself, and my work. It helps a lot.
- If you work with negative coworkers, always remind yourself that you’re doing your best, and their opinion of you should not change the way you work.
- Thankfully I have a great team around me, and I truly love all the girls I work with on a daily basis – but that doesn’t mean upper management, even just via email, doesn’t make me go insane at times. Again, this is because we’re HUMAN. We’re not going to agree on everything, and we’re not always going to have similar business practices. The best advice I can give is to NOT take it personally. I learned very quickly that my sensitivity in the business world is not a strong characteristic of mine, and try to work on it daily. I try to speak my mind, stand strong in my opinions, and not feel personally attacked when a boss or coworker says something rude. This is one of the hardest things to go through in the working world, but completely inevitable. Not everyone you encounter will see the goodness inside of you, even if it is one of the most amazing characteristics about you. Not everyone is going to speak kindly to you, nor are they going to worry about your feelings. It sucks, but that is why the world struggles more than it should. We’re all dealing with things every single day, and we take it out on others in ways that we shouldn’t at times. So, we just need to deal. Because we’re strong, and we can. Lately I’ve been trying to make myself laugh about whatever is hurting me inside. I have to literally sit there and think “LOL why are they so CRAZZZYYYYYY?!?!?!?” After I have a yelling/venting banter back and forth in my head, I can usually crack a smile and go on with my day. It’s not the end of the world. It’s.just.work.
- Smile at everyone you can make eye contact with, even if they’re not your favorite human.
- It’ll make you feel good inside, and it may change both of your days.
- Keep a full water bottle at your side all day. The minute you finish it, get up and refill it.
- I treat my water bottle like my child. I take it everywhere with me, and make sure it is always full. It’s a good habit to keep, and it gives you an excuse to walk around when you need a bathroom break. Also, it’s the best thing you can do for your body while still sitting down and tackling your to-do list…so why wouldn’t you make this a habit?
- Pack a lunch that excites you.
- The first half of my day always goes by much quicker when I am really excited about my lunch. Not only can you control the healthy factor involved if you pack your own lunch, you also save A TON OF MONEY. Again, this is a habit you should work really hard on – it’ll benefit you mentally, physically, and financially. #LIFE-HACK.
- Pick a podcast specific to your industry. It’ll help you feel like you’re constantly learning, especially if you feel like you may be lacking skills needed to fulfill your daily responsibilities.
- One of my biggest ‘regrets’ from college is not majoring in business or marketing. I wish so badly I had submerged myself in a more practical study, but thankfully it’s 2017 and people are dropping out of college left and right to become self-taught millionaires. So, I guess I can’t really call it regret – instead, I can continue learning daily by listening to industry leaders across the world who have podcasts, read books, scour YouTube, and talk to the business leaders I come across daily. The entire world is at our fingertips, all we have to do is google it.
I know these may be simple tips, but I hope they helped! They may not change your life, but they will definitely help change your daily mindset and help you power through that job you may be dreading.
If I’ve learned one thing since graduating college and being a millennial in the job sphere, it’s that nothing is forever, and that’s a good thing. We have SO many opportunities, and there are jobs just waiting to be discovered around every corner. Sure, it’s tough to feel stuck. But pick up a self-help book from Amazon or your local book store, and see how it starts to tweak your mindset. It’s literally like free therapy. Maybe it’s not your job that needs to change, maybe it’s just your mindset and your daily habits. Whatever the answer may be, you WILL find it – it just takes time, perseverance, and hard work. But you got this. xo
Photography by Clinetography