24 Feb 2021

I Love Mondays: The guide to enjoying your job

From Nine To Noon, 11:25 am on 24 February 2021

As the warm rays of your summer holiday start to fade and the neon light of your working reality flickers before you, it's possible you might find yourself wondering if you're in the right job.

Jess Stuart has written what she hopes will be a guide to help people find joy in their work -  with a bit of an aspirational title: I Love Mondays

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Stuart says, like most people, she had her fair share of jobs she didn't really like, drifting between them every two years or so when she got bored.  

She's compiled the guide by drawing on her decade of experience in recruitment and employee engagement.

Many of us have a far of change, especially in these uncertain times, so having a realistic plan is important, she says.

“Updating your CV, researching the kind of job you might move to, looking at the market, talking to your network all of those things you can do without having to take a leap.”

It is good to do a best and worst day exercise, Stuart told Kathryn Ryan.

“Think about your best day at work and the flip side of that your worst day at work, you start to really understand what is it I really like about what I do and what is it that I really don’t like.”

This can temper the tendency for us to assume the grass is greener, she says.

Her own career in HR was very corporate, but did not make her happy, she says.

“I was obsessed with status, salary and the corner office and the further I moved up that ladder the more I realised I was getting further away from the things that I loved.”

That thing she loved was helping people develop and so she left and started personal coaching.

Often a desire to progress a career can take us away from what we love, she says.

“As long as we can pay the bills and put a roof over our head then the stuff that really motivates us is the intrinsic, it’s aligning to our values, using our strengths, being challenged, the people we get to work with whether we like them or not those are the things that really make a difference, not how much extra we are going to get paid.”

For her book she interviewed 20 people who love what they do.

“These are not people who are travel bloggers in Bali or running yoga retreats at the beach. They’re accountants, software developers, wine makers in some cases.”

Some common themes emerged.

“People wanted to be in a job that aligned to their skills, with a team that matched their values or an organisation that matched their values and that gave them a sense of meaning and purpose.”

Often it was the simple things that made all the difference, she says, such as being appreciated when you’ve done something, career progression, feeling that someone at work cares and autonomy.

However, a bad leader can make a misery of any job, Stuart says.

“The impact of leaders is huge particularly if they are not great leaders and sometimes the impact is so big that it is impacting our health then yes the only control I have in this situation is whether I stay or go.”

And if you do need to go don’t leave it too late, she says.

“Often the platform needs to be a burning one for us to jump off it, so sometimes we do leave it too late, we leave it to the point where it impacts our health.

“We get the Monday blues, the Sunday dread, we’ve written a resignation letter 100 times, but that fear stops us putting it in.”

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