Fanning the Flames: Seven Ways to Stay Excited About Coming to Work

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor L. Frankl, Austrian psychologist.

Remember when you were young and idealistic, when work was still new and exciting, when problems seemed to automatically reframe themselves as challenges and every day was a new chance to learn? Do you ever wonder what happened to those days? They’re not really gone. They’re just buried under an adult patina of care, worry, and stress. If you’re willing to try, you can remove the patina and rediscover your excitement about your work.

What will it take? The shock treatment of finding a newer, less toxic, more interesting, or more challenging job that better fits your talents? Perhaps you need to shift a few piles of work and polish your idealism up to get it sparkling again. Maybe all you need is a serious vacation. Or stop taking things too seriously, while remaining dedicated to your deadlines. Try these seven simple things to be happier about your work:

  1. Make fewer, more realistic commitments. It’s easier to enjoy your work more and feel better about yourself if you’re not so stressed about meeting your unrealistic commitments. Stop making so many promises you can’t keep—ideally, don’t take on any new ones until you complete the existing ones—and in the future, carefully choose only those you know you can reasonably accomplish with a bit of stretch.

  2. Make fewer decisions. A prevailing theory suggests you only have so much decision-making ability per day before you suffer energy and ego depletion. Nearly everything requires a decision, but you can cut back on how many you must make by simplifying your life and establishing routines. And apparently, a sugary snack or drink (with real glucose) can help you recover your decision-making energy.

  3. Avoid negative people. Whiners, grouches, downers, and other people with negative outlooks are toxic to happiness and excitement. They’ll always find a way to rain on your parade. Stay away from them as much as possible—relatives included.

  4. Stay mindful. Stop worrying about the past, and don’t overthink what might happen in the future. Keep your mind on the present, active and on point. Don’t let go and function on cruise control when it’s time to think and work hard, or you’ll lose track of important things and end up somewhere in the weeds. Mindfulness requires living in the moment and thoughtfully working toward your next milestone and goal.

  5. Get to know your coworkers better. You may be happier if you connect with your coworkers at a deeper level. Shift some of your focus to your team rather than yourself. It usually feels good to help other people, and it can’t hurt to store up good will for when you need a little help later.

  6. Improve yourself. Whenever you can find the time, take the time to learn something new, even if it means paying for it yourself. Additional training, continuing education, conferences, workshops, and occasional classes can prove instrumental in making you feel more confident about yourself and your job performance. The better you feel about yourself, the happier (and more excited) about work you’re likely to be.

  7. Pretend you’re new to your job again. Stop for a moment and try to remember the way you felt when you first started your job, when everything felt novel and exciting, and you weren’t overwhelmed. Try to recover this feeling. It may not be easy, but if you can overlay that hopeful sense of challenge over the everyday humdrum, you’ll likely find it easier to move forward with a renewed sense of interest and vigor.

Shiny, Happy People

Everyone knows that people who love their jobs work harder. It’s been scientifically proven, though no one really needed it to be. If you’re excited at work, you’re more likely to own your job, embrace what you do, and fully engage—the employer’s Holy Grail. It’s never just up to your employer to keep you excited—your happiness is your responsibility. I’m not saying you can just flip a switch and “choose excited.” Despite the fondest hopes of some optimists, humans don’t really work that way. But you can change your circumstances and attitude.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email [email protected].com, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland