Are you a Meg or Lupita?
Her name was Meg, and she had a head full of beautiful silver hair through which she routinely ran her hands. She had a smile that was genuine, and ever present. Her bubbly personality was contagious and enhanced our enjoyment ten-fold. She was the wine pourer on a recent trip I took to the Napa Valley and she absolutely, completely loved her job.
Meg was a complete contrast to Lupita, the front-desk clerk at our hotel. Lupita never smiled. She repeatedly announced how the number of hours she had left until her shift was over. She made me feel like I was an unwelcome interruption in her extremely boring day.
I was curious about why Meg appeared to be in love with her job and what made it so fun for her, so I asked her about it.
Meg told me that she used to be a senior executive at Campbell Soup Company. She's even in the Hall of Fame there (one of the first women inducted), but after 20 years was let go. Even though she had every right to be bitter, she really didn't seem bitter. She explained that even though on paper the Campbell Soup job was far more challenging and rewarding than pouring wine, "how much you enjoy your job is up to you," and that everyone should find reasons to love their job, and not hold grudges for things that happened in the past.
How simple does that sound? Simple to someone like Meg, who seems to be the type of person to find fun in every situation, right? Not so simple to Lupita, who couldn't find any reason to love her job.
Are you a Meg or a Lupita?
Here are five ways to love your job and put your inner Meg to work.
1) Focus on the benefits your job gives you.
Maybe you work so you can afford to own your own home or send your kids to college. Don't focus on the work you don't like, focus on the benefits of that job. When you focus on the good of the situation, you will find that your attitude changes significantly.
Let's assume you work in a big city and take some form of public transit to work. Instead of complaining that your company is downtown and that working so far away is inconvenient, focus on the fact that you get one hour a day of complete relaxation to read a book or spend on social media. Don't complain about the location; focus on the benefits that getting to that location gives you.
If you drive to work, use the time you spend in the car to listen to a book on tape or sing along to the radio. Use your lunch hours to go for a walk, or even to do some shopping.
Focus on the benefits of your job and stop complaining about the elements of the job you don't like.
2) Find three things you love about your job.
I've written in the past how Warren, my husband, and I share the three best things of the day every day. It helps us keep positive and focus on what went well that day instead of thinking about what didn't go well.
There must be three things you like about your job, right? Your co-workers, your boss, your private office, or the fact your company has a gym on-site. You can come up with three things.
Meg would list the fact that she gets to work with people who love something she loves (wine), that she sees people who are generally in a great mood (because they're on vacation or doing something they enjoy), and that her view from the vineyard is worth getting up for in the morning.
I bet Lupita focuses on things like the fact that she has to deal with people who are used to others picking up after them, that she still has eight hours left in her shift and three more days until her weekend, and that she has to deal with grumpy travellers. Completely the wrong focus.
I would tell her to focus on the fact she gets to meet people from all over the world, that generally, they won't complain about the price (because their company is likely paying for the room), and that she works in a bright, spacious, welcoming environment, with free coffee provided all day.
If you can't find three things you like about your job, you're in trouble, and your unhappiness in your job is most likely evident to others.
3) Stay positive on the outside, even when you aren't feeling positive on the inside.
We've all heard the expression "Fake it until you make it." This is a great piece of advice. Stop telling people you're having a bad day and start telling them you're having a great day, even if you aren't. Fake it, at least for now.
We have the ability to convince ourselves of our own truths. For instance, if you focus on being tired, you will be tired. When you have a headache, one of the worst things you can do is tell someone you have a headache (because it seems to make it worse, doesn't it?). So, when things aren't going right, don't say that out loud. Pretend that everything is fine, and you'll be amazed at how well that works, how quickly your day turns around.
4) Turn bad into good.
After we'd spent a bit more time with Meg, she announced that we were very lucky because she had a bottle of wine that is normally not part of the tasting and she was going to share it with us. She was very excited about the wine, and we felt that we were getting a huge bonus.
When I asked why she'd opened that wine today, she casually mentioned that earlier a client, who'd come in for a tasting, had been very picky, so in order to please him, they opened up the special vintage.
She could have said that there was a customer in earlier who had been very difficult and to appease him they had opened up a very special bottle--but she didn't. She took what was probably an unpleasant experience and turned it around so it felt and looked like a bonus for her and for us.
How many times at work do people complain when their co-workers are out of the office? Instead of focusing on what doesn't get done when they are gone, focus on how much extra work you get because there are fewer interruptions.
Instead of complaining that IT is always telling you to archive your emails, turn that around and focus on the fact that their prompts are helping you keep your inbox manageable.
5) Let the past stay in the past--and move on.
Meg could have let her experience with her past job color her attitude or make her cynical, but she didn't. While I'm sure she didn't like being let go, she didn't let the past cloud her present, or her future.
Build a bridge and get over it. Cross that bridge as often as needed.
Don't let past situations, bosses, co-workers, difficult people or bullies allow you to hold a grudge that might affect your future. Don't become so cynical that you can't allow joy into your life.
You may have worked for a company that downsized in the past at your expense. That shouldn't stop you from being loyal to your current employer. Don't see your past experience as a pattern that is destined to repeat itself.
You may have worked for a micromanager in the past. That doesn't mean all supervisors are micromanagers and that no one trusts you.
As another example: Many of us are divorced, but that (hopefully) won't stop you from loving again and potentially pledging the rest of your life to someone else. Yes, your first experience may not have been great and may have you caused you to shy away from committing to someone again, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't eventually try again, or that you should hold some of yourself back. Work is the same way. Let the past be in the past and move on.
I wanted to sit and chat with Meg and ask her many questions about her joie de vivre, and her attitude about her work. I know that she is the type of person I would like as my friend. I know that she gave me a spectacular impression of the vineyard, and that made me love the wine I was tasting. I bought some great wines there.
When you are a joy to work with, the perception of you, your company, your department, and even your credibility increases. By being a wet rag, all of the above are affected too, but not in your favour.
Learn to love your job... or find one that you can love.
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