Have you ever noticed how your work day influences your moods, emotions and actions? Some days you come home invigorated either by a new project, positive feedback from our boss or a good chat with a colleague. Other days you may be frazzled; nothing seems to work smoothly, everybody wanted something and you never got down to do what you optimistically set out to achieve. Two different days at the same work place. How is that possible? What gets in the way? There are seven work things that have a direct influence on our well-being. Some have a positive spin and others a negative one. The purpose is not to fix the negative, because our natural bias will gravitate to do just that, but rather to become aware and determine what our balance or sweet spot is. This balance point differs from person to person.
1. The work/life boundaries are blurred. Often our feelings about work, thoughts, and time spill over into our personal life. Work and life become one and are no longer two distinctly compartmentalised areas of our life. We need to step up and set the boundaries and structures for ourselves; it is up to us!
2. Where and how people live their life is largely dependent on work. Income will always determine this, but now two extra factors called commuting and globalisation come into play. People are opting to work offsite, from home, and flexi-time etc. As an aside, the impact commuting in congested traffic and the toll it takes on our psychological well-being is generally totally underestimated.
3. Significant time is invested before we even start to work. The emphasis here is on studies, education and self-development. We grow up with the expectation that our adult life is our working life, and that creates pressure to choose the right education and career path!
4. We have strong psychological ties with our work. We define ourselves through our work and might even regard ourselves as our work. This tie is more prevalent in the male population which adds additional pressure to succeed. It also explains the common retirement blues men experience after ending their working careers.
5. Social connections and bonds can further advance or limit our career growth. The saying “It’s who we know and not what we know that matters” has a level of truth to it. Interactive work relationships influence hiring, firing, promotions and stagnations. Over and above doing exceptional work we need to nurture strategic work relationships.
6. Purpose and meaning is what our brains do all day long. We need to understand why and how something matters to us, and only then do we commit or not. Purpose is what makes us survive which means we as humans need to find this connection to our work because we need to.
7. Lastly there is work engagement. We need to establish a bridge between ourselves and our work. Engagement is the positive effect that ensures our own values and beliefs are in alignment with our work. We then go the extra mile because we want to! Work provides a structured process to our day, which is what human beings need to survive. We are not great when we have free time to do whatever we want and whenever we want, eventually leading to us becoming totally disengaged with life. Work is a crucial part of us. Embrace it!