Remember that first day at your new job? The excitement and anticipation of learning something new alongside the ever-so-slight torment of meeting all those new people that you would be working with? It was all so new and wonderful. And then there was that moment when you got your first promotion and it was downright exhilarating.
But now you see the new graduates and interns showing up with that same eager attitude and a part of you wants to warn them, “Watch out kid, this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” And you’re their boss.
What happens to us over time at work?
Perhaps you’re reading this and you truly are unhappy with your job, in which case, you may want to consider a change. But more often than not, we just feel sort of “meh.” We’re not totally excited, but we’re not necessarily charged up and running out the door either. It’s as if the air is moving only slightly across our sails and we have drifted into some waters that are unknown.
First, this is normal. Second, there is something you can do about it.
It has to do with the hedonic treadmill. The hedonic treadmill was a termed coined to explain that phenomenon of good never being good enough. We get the promotion, the job, the car, the spouse, etc., only to find ourselves right back where we started. We continue feeling like we need something more to satisfy us.
And it makes sense. We clearly want to go towards the carrots and avoid the sticks in life. But, we quickly discover that there aren’t enough carrots to save us from running into the stick of our dissatisfaction. Not to mention, the carrots are all about our individual self. It’s all about me when it comes to those sorts of achievements.
It makes sense then that achieving and consuming can leave us feeling lost about what to do next. Nevertheless, there are some action steps we can take:
- When is the last time you offered a colleague assistance on a task? Note: ask them if they want your help; don’t just assume that they do.
- When is the last time you reflected on your work — the actual work that you do — and considered how it influences the world around you? Both inside your organization and at large?
- How many times did you appreciate the people in your life this week or even just today?
- Here’s a big one: How often have you appreciated yourself for the work that you completed and for the positive influence you had on others?
What you’ll quickly notice is that joy from consumption or from achievements doesn’t last very long. Is achievement important in our lives? Of course.
But if it stands alone, it leads to a greater and greater focus on ourselves. True joy, lasting joy is only found in being of service to others.