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Cheerful caucasian woman in white t-shirt holding laptop computer and smiling because she is happy at work.

Six Ways to Fall in Love with Your Job and Be Happy at Work

Posted On02/11/2019

ContributorNelson Jobs

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, there’s a renewed emphasis on love at this time of the year. And while we often think of love in terms of romantic relationships, we omit the thing we spend most of our day doing: our jobs. At Nelson, we think it’s high time to fall in love with our jobs all over again. The first step? Be happy at work.

Here are our top ways to stay happy at work today:

Seek Out Professional Development

The things we do every day can become monotonous—including our jobs. Stagnation leads to discontent, and before you know it, the job you once loved becomes something you loathe. How regularly do you feel challenged in your job? If you’re like much of the workforce, the answer is not often. The key to overcoming this is professional development.

Take charge of your professional development by learning a new skill, earning a certification, or advocating for new responsibilities with your manager. Putting your brain in overdrive can be a powerful way to stimulate engagement and contentment. And be sure to check with your employer—there’s a good chance they sponsor career development or have professional development initiatives in place already.

Lean into Your Professional Relationships

There are lots of reasons we work. Sure, “to earn a living” tops the list. But a sense of fulfillment is up there as well, and much of the fulfillment we gather from our work comes from the people with whom we interact on a daily basis. For anyone who has ever been part of a particularly collaborative and creative group of colleagues, it’s easy to understand why.

The best professional relationships are mutually beneficial, and they help us challenge old ways of thinking, develop fresh approaches and ideas, provide a network of support, and encourage us to learn about our industry and ourselves. One of the best ways to stay happy at work? Put as much into your professional relationships as you’re getting out.

Take Advantage of Your Workplace Perks

Employers are offering perks the likes of which we’ve never seen before: vacation allowances, health and wellness packages, catered lunches, and more. Due to record-low unemployment and the subsequent war for talent, workplaces across all industries have upped their offerings. And yet, many employees aren’t aware of all the perks available to them—a majority don’t even use all of their PTO.

Improve happiness at work by finding out what perks are offered and then taking advantage of them. While your employer may not match Airbnb’s generous annual $2,000 vacation allowance, they may have commute reimbursement or a doggy daycare subsidy. These benefits are there for a reason: your company wants you to use them—and they’re a surefire way to increase your happiness at work.

Practice Gratitude

It’s too easy to get caught up in the negative things about our lives and our jobs, focusing on irritating habits of our superiors, work ethic of fellow colleagues, and complications caused by the bureaucracy that is corporate America.

And yet, what comes from this negative spiral? Often it is little more than a bad mood. Practicing gratitude is the best way to combat the tides of negativity in life, and studies show it actually improves happiness. Keep a gratitude journal where you write down five things you are grateful for three times a week. By taking a moment to critically examine what you feel thankful for in life, you’ll become happier—both at home and in the office.

Advocate for Yourself

Do you need extra support? More feedback from your manager? Do you have a particularly trying commute? It’s easy to fall out of love with our jobs when our basic needs aren’t being met. And yet, much of the time, getting what we need to be happier at work is easier than we think. We just have to ask—strategically.

Harvard Business Review author Deborah M. Kalb says it comes down to recognizing, preparing, initiating, and navigating. Follow her advice to become your own best advocate and improve happiness at work. You may just be surprised what happens when you ask for help, request feedback, or propose a flexible schedule.

Make Wellness a Priority

Want to know the best way to get happy and stay happy at work? It’s to be happy outside of work, something that’s nearly impossible without taking care of yourself. Eat well, exercise regularly, and take up meditation, if that’s your thing. The point here is to understand that happiness—in the office and out—is holistic.

And a commitment to wellness pays professional dividends as well: studies show regular exercise improves job performance. Increased job performance means higher levels of engagement and contentment. Read: you’ll be happier at work.

Happiness is not one of those things that you have or you don’t have, and especially not in the workplace. It’s a trait that is highly influenced by attitude, circumstance, opportunity, environment, and relationships. By taking time to examine these different factors, you’re able to understand what needs improving, and take the next right steps to do so. If you follow our six ways to be happy at work today, you’ll be on track to fall back in love with your job by Valentine’s Day!