Do you find yourself dreading going into the office every day? This simple tactic could help to make your working day more enjoyable.
In an ideal world, we’d all be head-over-heels in love with our jobs. In reality, however, that dream is far from reality. According to a study published in 2018, more than half of UK workers are unhappy at work, with another study finding that 52% of women in their 20s admitting they are rarely or never keen to be in the office.
And it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of situation: there are a whole host of reasons why some of us are less than pleased to arrive at the office every morning, with poor pay, a negative company culture and a lack of career progression coming out on top. The problem? None of these issues are easy to fix.
Ideally, quitting our jobs and working remotely as we travel around the world would be an option all of us could pursue – but at the end of the day, sometimes it’s just not possible to throw in the towel straight away.
After all, in today’s uncertain economy, it’s not as easy as it once was to swap jobs. And even if you do, you can’t be sure that you won’t encounter similar issues around an unfulfilling work culture or lack of promotion.
Not to mention that when you’re unhappy, you may naturally be more apathetic and detached; which means the motivation to change things just isn’t there. You’re stuck in second gear with nowhere to go.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Big changes, like conjuring up the confidence to go freelance or find a new career, are engendered by smaller habits. And one of these smaller steps is the ability to find escapism in your daily job.
How do you do this? Contrary to all your impulses, it’s not just by spending the morning board meeting wishing yourself away to a remote beach in Thailand, coconut daiquiri in hand.
Instead, you need to do something that fully transports you - physically or metaphorically - from your work space for one small window of the day.
“If you hate your job, it’s important to do something every day to relieve the feeling that you’re stuck in a never-ending slog,” says Dorie Clark, a strategy consultant and author of Entrepreneurial You.
“One possibility is periodically taking a break to immerse yourself in another world,” he says, in a LinkedIn advice column on the topic.
“When I had a frustrating job years ago, I’d bring a book with me to work every day and read for a half-hour during my lunch break. It was a way I could escape from the pressures of the day and steel myself for the afternoon.”
This technique sounds simple, but it’s subtly powerful. It relies on something called narrative transportation: the experience of being transported by, and fully absorbed in, a story.
The effect is so strong, it can actually change how you see the world as a result.
Now we’re not suggesting a quick lunchtime read of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine will immediately turn your life around (although it is an amazing book, so you should give it a whirl).
Rather, consciously making an effort to break up your miserable work day will give your mind an opportunity to escape and flex its creativity.
Instead of obsessing over frustrating problem no. 163 of the day, you grab a little time to yourself to just do what you like; whether that’s chomping through a book, taking a walk to a new exhibition or listening to a podcast you’ve had on your list for ages.
Make space for this, and slowly but surely, you’ll untangle yourself from an entrenched web of work problems to a place that inspires and motivates you.
You’ll remember who you are, gain some perspective, and in doing so, build up the self-esteem you need to chisel out a proper escape route. Try it and see…