How to craft your way through COVID-19

For many years before the global COVID-19 pandemic we have been grappling with a different kind of epidemic in the form of workplace stress and burnout.

In the 2018 Wellness in the Workplace report, it was suggested that about NZ$1.5 billion dollars are lost each year due to workplace absence and stress, and around 27% of the population reports that their work makes them unhappy.

On top of this, during the country-wide Lockdown, many of us found ourselves struggling with the additional pressures of supporting home schooling requirements, new demands on our skills (learning how to Zoom and work from home) and navigating Big Emotions.

Luckily, I happen to believe that these circumstances present us with a rather golden opportunity to notice and transform our experiences, and our wellbeing at work.

We know from neuroscience that our brain is hard wired to focus on the negative things in our life.

For example, take a moment to reflect on your day today.

What are some of the things that come to mind?

Chances are, your remembering will focus on the chores you didn’t get done, dwell on a throwaway comment from your manager that irritated you, or on that nagging feeling that somebody on your team isn’t quite pulling their weight.

We quite literally find it easier to think about negative things more frequently than positive things, simply because we are human.

However, now that we know our brain is likely to play tricks on us like this, we can learn how to hack our way to a slightly better day by deliberately finding and creating more positive moments in our reflections.

Trivial as this might sound, it’s been scientifically researched and can have an enormous effect on our ability to navigate through challenging times and come out the other side stronger, and with a job that’s more satisfying.

Studies have also found that when you make time to notice and craft your job like this, you are more likely to perform better at work, feel better about what you’re doing and get noticed for all the right reasons. (Hint: it’s even been linked to pay rises and promotions).

Crafting can be as easy as doing three simple things.

  1. Notice what you enjoy about your job.

  2. Talk to another person about what you’ve noticed.

  3. Find a way to do more things that you enjoy every day.

Let’s unpack each of those things one by one.

Step One: Notice what you enjoy about your job.

“Katie was on the verge of resigning. She’d had enough of long hours and never-ending to do lists. Yet when invited to talk about why she loved her job, Katie became lost in emotion as she shared the sense of pride in supporting her customers. Working with the elderly was a calling for her, and she never tired of seeing their eyes light up when she spent time with them. She had been focussing on the wrong bits of her job”

  • When was the last time you had a good day at work, lost yourself in a task or felt as though you were doing something rewarding at work?

  • What is one thing that you achieved today which gave you a sense of satisfaction, peace, or joy?

  • What do people tell you about the positive difference that you make in the workplace?

Reflecting on these questions will start to activate a very different focus on your workday instead of the spotlight on doom and gloom that comes more naturally.

Of course, if you realise that you have never had a good day at work, nor felt a sense of achievement and you have no idea about the positive difference you make, then you might want to consider talking with a career professional at Ignite Aotearoa to explore whether you’re following a rewarding career path.

For the rest of us, we will start likely start to notice in full technicolour splendour all the things that already bring positivity to our career or place of work.