How do you regain that sense of enjoyment, gusto, eagerness, enthusiasm, passion, pleasure, and delight about your work? That is, after-all, what work-zest evokes.
When you can’t wait until Monday to start working on your latest idea, or become so absorbed in a task or project that you lose all sense of time, or when you know your contributions matter, or feel invigorated achieving results with colleagues, you experience work-zest.
These feelings flow into your life, relationships, and well-being.
Huh? Work-zest! “I need a job, and then I’ll worry about the zest in it,” you might be thinking. First things first, right? Wrong.
Why You Need Work-Zest
We all need a reason to get up in the morning, to know that what we do matters. Whether our work pays the rent and feeds our family, or is on the cutting edge of science, a job is not just a job. It affects how we see the world and the people in it; how we see ourselves and our lives.
Every day that your work-zest is lacking is a day you potentially self-sabotage your efforts to rebuild your future. It works like this: your body language transmits harbored emotions. Feelings of betrayal and broken trust, outrage and blame, not to mention depression, worry, and fear are often residues of job loss.
According to Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman, author of The Nonverbal Advantage, "93% of the messages people receive from us have nothing to do with what we actually say."
Tips for Regaining Your Work-Zest
1. “Your Work” Redefined
Step back. See the bigger picture. A job is not your work. "Your work" is about becoming who you are capable of becoming. It’s about living your life’s potential. When you make that mental shift, set-backs, challenges, failures, and successes become part of your work.
According to the Dalai Lama, "The period of greatest gain in knowledge and experience is the most difficult period in one’s life."
2. A Daily Practice: Remember When …
Think back on a time when you felt confident, successful, on top of the world. Picture it. Reconnect with how that felt.
Now, replay that picture and those feelings each day, so you can recall them at will. When you walk into a networking event, career fair, interview, social gathering, or a volunteer position, hold those feelings of hitting your stride in your mind. This sense memory will transmit body language that speaks a positive non-verbal message to those around you.
3. Prosperity Thinking
Even with financial worries and no job, you can tap into feelings of prosperity. Prosperity isn’t about money, it’s about emotional well-being. You can have a great job and lots of money and not feel prosperous, or no job and little money and have a joy about life with prosperous feelings.
Feeling secure, fulfilled, and loved are the needs that comprise prosperity. Ignite yours by reflecting on what you have, not what you don’t have.
4. Drop Those Hot Coals
Grudges hijack futures. It’s difficult to forgive companies, bosses, or coworkers who put hurdles in your way or demolished your dreams.
But holding onto your anger and disappointment only hurts you. As Bernard Meltzer said, "When you forgive, you in no way change the past, but you sure do change the future." An excellent resource for doing just that is Dr. Fred Luskin’s book, Forgive for Good.
5. Stay a Player
Less than 15% of S&P 500 companies listed at the end of the 1950’s are still in existence. Jim Collins, author of Built to Last, advises companies to, "Preserve the core, and stimulate progress." He claims, "To be built to last, you have to be built for change."
That’s true for people, too. You need to preserve your core and stimulate your progress. If you do, you’ll stay a player. My best lifetime career opportunity came after I lost out on a job I coveted. That best opportunity never would have happened if I hadn’t "stayed in the game."
Work-zest doesn’t come when you get a job. And it isn’t lost when you lose one. It’s not about being employed or unemployed; nor is it about doing work that’s paid versus unpaid. Work-zest comes from the inside. It’s a mindset. It’s a philosophy. And it comes when you realize the person you work for is the one looking back in the mirror.