Even if you’ve stayed with your current job since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the unprecedented churn in the U.S. labor market over the past two and a half years may have you thinking, “am I happy where I am?”
If so, you’re not alone.
“For the better part of a century, we have accepted whatever terms and conditions companies put in front of us,” said Louisville-based executive coach and organizational psychologist Rita Ernst. “The pandemic threw everything up in the air and gave us the ability to scrutinize our jobs, which we were not doing before, simply out of habit.”
As the nation’s “quit rate” reached a 20-year high last November, experts started referring to the phenomenon as “The Great Resignation.” According to the Pew Research Center, about one-in-five non-retired U.S. adults (19%) — including similar shares of men (18%) and women (20%) — say they quit a job at some point in 2021, meaning they left by choice and not because they were fired, laid off or because a temporary job had ended.
But not everyone has the luxury to toss away a job they find unsatisfactory.
“People stay for all sorts of reasons like health care benefits and because they need the paycheck to pay their bills,” Ernst told the Courier Journal. “It’s a privilege to be able to throw it all away but there are also ways to make your current job more rewarding and enjoyable if you need to or choose to stay.”
In her new book “Show Up Positive,” Ernst offers a peek into the behind-the-scenes playbook that has made her a sought-after life coach at companies such as Gap Inc., Humana and Surgical Care Affiliates. The book is filled with easy-to-navigate information to help you feel inspired and motivated while taking back your happiness in the workplace.
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“It’s human nature to focus on negative things and to run from a job when you are feeling unhappy or in a rut,” Ernst said. “But you can change your circumstances for the better. If one person can derail it, one person can create it, so the starting place is saying, ‘I have the power to create the culture I want to be in. All I have to do is show up as the person I want others to be around.'”
There are five chapters in the book, which include anecdotal stories, positive affirmations, words, and lessons. Ernst said that change won’t happen overnight but emphasized that little behavioral and mental changes can have huge impacts over time. To help get you off the negative merry-go-round and back on a positive path Ernst suggests starting with three areas of your personal work life. Because in the end, it’s up to you to make the changes that will improve your life.
Visualize what you want in job satisfaction
How often do we find ourselves complaining about what we don’t like rather than stating what we want? There is power in focusing on positive thoughts. Holding a positive word in your mind activates your frontal lobes connected to the brain area responsible for moving you into action.
“The more your brain attends to constructive thoughts, the more you train your brain to see the good in yourself and others and ultimately change your world for the better,” said Ernst. “Start working on being able to visualize what you want to see happening in the workplace.”
How to align your values for job satisfaction
Before you can decide whether the standards of behavior in your company or on your team are in alignment with your own, you need to come to grips with your personal beliefs and values.
“The best tip I have is to write them as action items,” said Ernst. “Instead of saying ‘I value honesty’ say ‘I tell the truth.’ Or instead of saying ‘my value is transparency,’ you might say ‘I openly share all information.'”
Once you understand your personal values, you can start showing up with those values on a consistent basis in your workplace.
Ernst said, “The good news is that you can displace negative values and increase the harmony between individual and organization values with intentional effort.”
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How to avoid ‘fear of rejection’ at work
Ernst said the fear of rejection is one of the major factors that keep people from making positive changes. If you have been participating in ongoing negativity but you decide you want a different experience and start to change your behavior in alignment with your personal values, there is a good chance you are going to look different than your negative coworkers.
“There is a risk for rejection, and you will probably experience rejection, but over time you will become an attractive beacon of positivity,” the author said. “Misery loves company until people grow tired of being miserable.”
Once you work through the first two steps of visualizing the type of workplace where you want to spend your time and understanding your personal values, you can then start to build up the team around you in a positive way.
“You can create change,” Ernst said. “Not just for yourself, but for others around you. You can become that beacon of hope.”
If you are ready to get back to the work your love, “Show Up Positive” is for any business or person who already had positive cultural norms before the pandemic and wants to find that balance again.
“They have this deep longing to have their old workplace back, but can’t find their way,” she said. “I’m hoping everyone finds something in the book that gives them one step forward and that gives them 10 steps forward and that they start a movement.”
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“Show Up Positive” ($15.99) is available at Carmichael’s Bookstore, 1295 Bardstown Road and 2720 Frankfort Ave. and on Amazon. Ernst also conducts virtual and in-person workshops through her company “Ignite Your Extraordinary.
Reach Features reporter Kirby Adams at email@example.com.
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