”It has to be fun! If it becomes a burden, we stop.” This was the rule that I and my blog-partner Hana have established when starting our blog. And even though we have to remind each other about it during busy times, I think we have actually internalized it. We started this blog because we loved talking to each other about career development, we both wanted to learn some new skills and we thought it would be cool to try to build something from scratch.
Every time I think about it, I get really surprised (and also very really proud of) how much we have achieved since we started this whole thing a few months back. To be honest, while I enjoyed reading other people’s blogs, I never really considered seriously to start one of my own. First, after 5 years at university with essays, projects and two theses, “writing” became almost a swearword. Second, creating a blog meant we had to build our own website (or pay somebody to do it for us, but that was not an option because we wanted to do everything ourselves) and I always considered myself as tech-handicapped. You know those people who complain every time iPhone operating system gets updated, or who refuse to use MobilePay because they are afraid their money will get stolen, or people who don’t use hashtags in Instagram? Well, I was that person. So as you can imagine building my own website was not something I ever thought I would do. Finally, I knew very little about marketing and promotion, so even if I managed to overcome the first two problems, my readers would be limited to a few of my good friends. Yet, I was excited about our idea and I knew I will have fun doing it together with Hana. And neither limited experience nor extra work put into it mattered anymore.
This made me wondering, why don’t I feel the same about my work? Don’t get me wrong, I do love my job and the projects I am involved in. I think it is challenging and allows me to utilize my strengths. What is more, I have lovely colleagues, very nice and knowledgeable. But I never thought of work as the place where I should be having fun.
I feel that there is something fundamentally wrong with how we view work. As fresh graduates, we discuss jobs in terms of pay, development and promotion opportunities and whether it fits our career aspirations. Once we get those jobs, we all do our best to prove our worth by working long hours and taking in as many tasks and projects as possible. We are afraid to admit we are missing certain skills to perform certain tasks or we simply don’t like those tasks because they are not motivating. And when it becomes too much, many young people decide to move on to next job in hope that it will get better. I was amazed by how many of my former classmates have changed jobs/companies only after one year after graduation. And for some of them, it was probably the right choice. But I am still wondering whether change of attitude towards working could have made them stay and learn to love their jobs.
When it comes to me and my job, I tried to analyze what is it that I enjoyed about working on my side project with Hana and whether I can implement any of it to my daily job. First, I realized that I was never really open with my manager about what I want and like to do. Of course I mentioned certain things during our development discussions, but I was never really bold about it. This was not an easy step to take. I tried to start this conversation several times before I actually got brave enough to say what my true preferences were. To my big surprise, my manager was very eager to discuss this topic. He also gave me more responsibility in the tasks that I mentioned as my favorite and found me a mentor to support my development.
Second, I realized that in our team we rarely celebrate successes at work. Outstanding performance has become a norm and we often forget to acknowledge all the great work that we do. So we adopted a tradition to have a cake every time one of us submit a big deliverable (e.g. project). With all that sugar and positive vibe, everyday has become much more fun. But what is more important, we began to engage with and support each other much more than we used to. And I realized that this is exactly what I and Hana do. We acknowledge each other’s achievements and we celebrate our small wins.
Finally, I became much more open-minded regarding learning new skills. Now, whenever I get a new difficult tasks, I try to look at it as something exciting and challenging and not scary and frustrating. And I am working on convincing myself that it is ok to fail sometimes and learn from mistakes.
All these small changes are my baby steps towards making work an enjoyable and fun experience. And I am just in the beginning of my journey, but I am sure that I will eventually get there as I already see some positive change in my everyday life.
What about you? Are you enjoying your work? Feel free to share your experiences in regards to having fun in your daily jobs.
Work and progress,