Don’t Change Your Job, Change your Mindset

Ali Sharifi

People are spending more and more time at the “office.” We work insane hours in high stress, thankless environments. There is a certain rush of energy that comes with this type of work, but that soon fades into a sort of mental exhaustion and in some cases, depression. This isn’t limited to office workers either. Whatever your line of work, when you focus exclusively on it, you’re bound to create many problems in your life. If you are blessed with a work environment that is free from stress, anxiety, frustration, and general discord, you can stop reading now. For the rest of us, there are simple steps you can take to diversify your life and reduce the pain of going to the office day in and day out. 

-- Limit Your Hours -- 

For those of you who have some level of control over your work schedule, one of the best things you can do is to start limiting your hours at work. Start by shaving 15-30 minutes off of your end time, or come in later. Use this extra time to do one of the things listed in the next few sections. Another way to limit you hours is by not wasting as much time at work. I know many people who goof off at work thinking that they are relieving stress. But, at the end of the day, you’re still at work longer than you need to be. Instead of the extra long chat with the co-worker about how miserable your work environment is, use that time to finish off a project and go home earlier. The less you are at work, the less stress you take home with you. Obviously, I’m not saying that you should sneak out of work. With the state of the economy as it is, I wouldn’t want you to lose your job. But, wherever possible, see if you can come in later and leave earlier when you can. Another thing to aim for is to leave work at work. Don’t take work home with you unless you absolutely need to. Try not to even think about work once you’ve left. I know this is very difficult for many people, but with practice it will become second nature and your refreshed mind will thank you. One way to take your mind off of work is, of course, to meditate. 

-- Take Up a Hobby -- 

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a hobby outside of work. As for me, I run a second business, play sports like golf and volleyball, and do programming. Whatever your hobby may be, make sure it’s something you thoroughly enjoy. It should be something that takes your mind off of work and other worries. This may seem obvious, but when you don’t have an outlet for releasing steam you end up becoming more frustrated and depressed. The first thing you should do is come up with a list of all of the things that interest you. My list might look something like this: 

  • Learn piano
  • Play golf
  • Play volleyball
  • Play tennis
  • Learn advanced programming
  • Develop programs to help people relieve stress
  • Run my Sage Within business
  • Play video games

As you can see, there are a lot of things on my list. Your list will undoubtedly have a lot of items on it as well. There is only so much free time in the day though, so you need to pick a few that you can realistically focus on. The last thing you want to do is create extra stress by spreading yourself too thin with your hobbies. One thing you can do, however, is to do all of them, but just at different times. You could focus on a couple of items at a time and then move on to other items on your list. By going back and forth, you keep it all fresh and exciting. Once again, the point of these hobbies is to relieve stress and take your mind off of work. If you find yourself stressed out because of your hobbies, it’s time to change the hobby or slow down with how much you’re trying to do. 

-- Take Mini-Vacations --

Most of us have some vacation time accrued that we have grand plans for. We often think about the month we’ll take off for some adventurous vacation. We go on the vacation and it’s usually pretty good, but than we come back to work. After a few short days, it feels like we never went on the vacation in the first place! Another strategy you might consider is to limit your larger vacations in favor of more frequent mini-vacations. By mini-vacation, I simply mean taking a Friday and/or Monday off to make a long weekend for yourself. By doing these shorter vacations a lot more often, you give yourself regular doses of stress relief and relaxation which will help you stay energized and refreshed. 

-- Change Your Mindset -- 

All of the items above are great, but ultimately, you need to do the often difficult task of changing your mindset about work. Doing some of the things I mentioned will certainly help you feel better about work, but they probably won’t make you love it. In order to truly become at peace with your job, you need to change how you think and feel about it. There are a couple of meditations that can help you at the office. The first thing you want to do is the “Protection Meditation” to help keep the negativity at the office away from you. Next, try the “Satisfying Work Affirmation” meditation on a daily basis. This is a meditation where you repeat helpful affirmations to yourself to gradually shift your mindset towards a more positive one. I would highly recommend modifying the affirmations so that they are in your own words. Here are the two meditations: 

Protection Meditation 

Find a comfortable spot to sit down. In a moment, I’ll ask you to take three very deep breaths. With each breath, I’d like you to inhale through your nose, making sure that your stomach rises as you inhale. As you exhale, I’d like you to breathe out through your mouth, letting your stomach come back to its natural position. Go ahead and take the three deep breaths now, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Continue to breathe normally now. 

We’re now going to create a bubble of protection around you. This will help to protect you from negativity and harm. I’d like you to imagine a golden light appearing from above your head. Imagine this warm glowing light, coming down towards you. This is a healing light of protection. Now imagine this light surrounding you from head to toe. You feel so comfortable and safe within this light. You know this light will protect you from harm and help guide you in the right direction. This light has formed a layer of protection around you now and you feel safer than you have ever felt before. Now imagine that another layer is forming around you. This layer is made up a million tiny mirrors. These mirrors face outward and will help to reflect any negativity that comes your way. You are completely protected now and you know that people cannot affect you negatively while you are within your bubble of protection. You also know that anytime you wish to be protected, you can quickly surround yourself with this golden light. 

Go ahead and open your eyes when you’re ready, feeling totally safe and secure. 

Satisfying Work Affirmation 

Find a comfortable spot to sit or lie down. Close your eyes and relax. In a moment, I’ll ask you to take three very deep breaths. With each breath, I’d like you to inhale through your nose, making sure that your stomach rises. As you exhale, I’d like you to breathe out through your mouth, letting your stomach come back to its natural position. Go ahead and take the three deep breaths now, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Begin to breathe normally as you allow your body and mind to completely relax. 

I’d like you to count down from 10 to 1 and with each count, I’d like you to imagine yourself becoming more and more relaxed. 10…relaxing completely with each and every breath…9…feeling totally relaxed from head to toe…8…7…6…with each breath you become twice as relaxed as you were before…5…deeper and deeper into a state of total relaxation…4…3…2…1…you are now completed relaxed from head to toe. 

I’d like you to repeat the following affirmation list to yourself now. If you can, try to say the affirmations aloud. Repeat each one to yourself slowly and focus on it for a few seconds before moving on to the next one. Continue to go through all of the affirmations. You may go through the whole list a second time if you’d like. 

  • I enjoy going to work everyday
  • I get along very well with my coworkers and superiors
  • I am happy throughout the day
  • I am very happy to be employedv I am confident in my abilities at work
  • I look forward to going to work each day
  • I remain positive despite my coworkers’ negativity
  • I am optimistic about my future
  • I am happy with my salary
  • I feel good when I think about work
  • I complete all of my tasks at work so that I don’t have to take work home with me
  • When I get home from work, I can easily stop thinking about work
  • I use my time at work efficiently and leave as early as possible
  • Go ahead and end this meditation for today by taking a deep breath and opening your eyes.

-- Calling it a Day --

I hope you’ll be able to use some of these suggestions to help make your work life more bearable. It has certainly worked for me. Once you change how you view work and start to enjoy some hobbies outside of work, you’ll hopefully find yourself leading a more stress-free, happy life. I’ll leave you with the prayer they use at many support groups. You can replace the word “God” with whatever you believe in. 

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

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