Joshua Burt: Work isn't making you blue, your head is

Your mindset is what you need to change. Photo / Steve McNicholl
Your mindset is what you need to change. Photo / Steve McNicholl

As we approach the most popular week for jacking in a job, Joshua Burt says be more positive.

Thought surviving Blue Monday would lead to smooth sailing for the rest of January? Think again: next week is when we're most likely to think about changing jobs, with January 31 being the most popular day of the year to throw in the towel, according to international research.

For some, that may come as a surprise, but recent conversations with friends have made it clear to me that a tide of disgruntled employees is rising.

"I'm just over it, I'm over working," one explained. "I've fallen out of love with my career, big time," said another. "I want to kill my boss, as in actually kill him. Don't tell anyone, but I might kill him ... are you recording this?"

A poll commissioned by the UK's Open University last week found nearly 60 per cent of those surveyed want to change roles this year.

But despite this growing trend for disgruntled employees, a high proportion of those surveyed said they lacked the self-confidence to make the move they so badly craved.

One in five said they had been in their current role for so long they were worried about making the switch, and one in six feared that changing jobs would be too difficult on top of the pressures of home life.

All these tales of employment woe can set everyone down.

Have we become the "blank generation" that 1970s punks used to reference - the ones with nothing spurring them on, no sense of purpose? Or is it that the mass migration away from organised religion has rendered us lost in an unforgiving ocean, making feeble lunges at plankton to stay afloat?

It could be all of the above - or perhaps, more simply, that we're expecting too much from our working lives, and piling the pressure on ourselves when things don't go exactly to plan. The reality is that hitting middle-age makes one's movements on the career ladder significantly less nimble - at 40 plus, it's probably going to be harder to switch careers than a more nimble 30-something with no responsibilities, which is why it's more important than ever to try to strike the right balance at work.

The key, then, is not necessarily changing jobs, but rather your mindset. By approaching your current issues from a fresh perspective, says Dr Gary Wood, psychologist and author of Unlock Your Confidence, we no longer need to spend Sunday night filled with dread ahead of the morning to come. Here's what he suggests:

Change your routine

Like Chinese water torture, where the slow dripping of water can eventually drive a person insane, it's probably the sameness of your working day that really starts eroding the soul, so try mixing things up a bit.

"Look at your job and ask yourself what areas of it you can control," advises Wood. "Perhaps you can occasionally take a different train in the morning, or you can swap your tasks around - like replying to emails after lunch instead of first thing. Small things can have a big impact."

Take a stroll

"Where before people would go home at the end of the day and that would be it, now - because of things like email - we've got a culture where you're never not at work. You need to switch your brain off from time to time to stop it becoming all-encompassing, and taking a walk each day is good for you. It's harder to log in and allows your brain to rest."

Embrace thankfulness

It's tricky to keep up with the next prescriptive method for locating inner peace, but following in the slipstream of Mindfulness comes its chirpier cousin, Thankfulness. Once more a Christian concept, it has been repackaged by Wood as "Gratitude".

"It's basically counting your blessings," he tells me. "Each night you should write down three things that you were grateful for that day, then the following morning, write down three things that you are looking forward to."

Limit social media

There seem to be floods of reports saying that social media makes you miserable, yet like children to chocolate cake, we're perpetually drawn back to it.

"When you're not enjoying your work, comparing yourself with other people isn't a particularly good idea. Also, think about the things that you're actually sharing - are you contributing to this overriding sense of dissatisfaction? Hating on things is not going to make anyone else happier. Limit your time on social media and only share things that are positive."

Be nice to colleagues

"To build on your own happiness you should pass it on first," says Wood. "Be cheerful, confident, do things to make your colleagues' lives better, because when other people treat you like a happy, confident person, your own perception of yourself and your feelings towards work also improves."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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