by Teri Fritsma
The recession may officially be over, but now isn’t the ideal time for a job hunt. Unemployment is still high, and employers still seem to be feeling skittish about hiring. If you’re among the ranks of the fully employed, you probably realize you’re better off than many. But this is little comfort if your boss is a jerk, your coworkers irritate you, your job duties are boring, and you can’t leave. You may feel out of options, but there’s one simple thing you can do that’s almost sure to change your outlook: act like you love your job.
It’s common to assume that the only way to feel better about something is to change your attitude. We tell ourselves to “look on the bright side,” “cheer up,” or “get in to a better state of mind” when we’re down. Instead, research in social psychology suggests that there’s another way to change the way you feel: simply change the way you act. Why does this work? It’s very difficult for a person to consistently feel one way and act another—the result is what social psychologists call cognitive dissonance. Therefore, when you change your behavior, your attitude is very likely to change along with it. And the best part about this strategy is that your own behavior is something you can actually control—unlike your boss, your coworkers, your job duties, or the job market.
So, if you’re tired of your job making you miserable and you feel like you’re out of other options, try these simple strategies.
- Commit to arriving on time every day.
- Make an effort to go above and beyond—take on extra duties and never miss a deadline.
- Act cheerfully toward everyone you encounter at work.
- Don’t allow yourself to be disruptive or negative in any way.
- Try writing positive notes to yourself: “I like my job” or “This task is fun.” (It may seem silly or forced, but remember—people have a hard time saying one thing and thinking another. Writing notes like these to yourself can actually cause your attitude to adjust to be more consistent with what you write.)
Besides just making you feel a little better, another benefit to this approach is that others are bound to notice your actions. Your boss might find new opportunities for you. Your coworkers might also respond positively. Before you know it, your job might actually improve—along with your outlook.