Falling In Love… With Your Job
Are you level-headed? Smart? Rational, thoughtful and discerning? Yes, you answer, except when I’m falling in love, and then I get butterflies in my stomach, and my heartbeat quickens, and I get this goofy smile that I wear all day, and I think the world is wonderful and full of meaning, and I practically beam goofiness at everyone who crosses my path.
What if you could experience these same symptoms of falling in love when you go to work?
The early stages of a relationship are built on attraction. Physical attraction. You’re drawn toward someone who turns you on and lights your fire. Missing this fire at work? (And I don’t mean the lack of a cute co-worker.) You can spark these flames of passion at work just like you do in a personal relationship. When it comes to attraction, chemicals such as phenethylamine, dopamine, and oxytocin flood your system. These chemicals keep your mood elevated, senses extra alert, and give you the urge to bond with others. As this chemical romance increases, your attraction to the object of your desire intensifies and you start to feel just a wee bit giddy.
High performers actually get giddy about new projects and new opportunities. The same two base elements for falling in love with another human are at play when you fall in love with the next big initiative: pleasure and purpose. Think of it as the 2P Principle. When you fall in love you’re seeking pleasure and purpose. You want to have fun, you want to be mentally, emotionally and spiritually sparked, and at an innate biological level you want this relationship to provide purpose and meaning, contribute to your life dreams and fill your need for connection. With your job, it is just as important to experience an overall high-level of pleasure and purpose, with both a present and future benefit. In other words, not every day needs to be pure joy, but the majority of days must find you mentally, emotionally and spiritually engaged and feeling as if your efforts matter.
Turning early infatuation into lasting attachment
When you’re first dating someone, no matter how tired you are, you manage to find energy. Adrenaline fuels you and you feel invincible. A few months later, a little less so. Two years later finds you in sweats, inhaling chocolate bars and using your treadmill as a clothesline. The same can be true with a new job. At first every task is new, every project presents a huge learning curve and you love the mental stimulation of it all. But you’re a fast learner and soon the next project is just a repeat of the old project, tomorrow’s line-up of meetings is the same line up as last week and your boss’s voice has this really annoying tone every time he asks you about a looming deadline. To get past the post honeymoon slump you have to focus on purpose since the pleasure is plummeting.
Purpose is about believing that there is a greater meaning in your efforts. When the day ahead is filled with some tasks that you’re not happy about, remind yourself that these tasks get you closer to the bigger picture, the bigger outcome, that what you do on a daily basis does matter. And if you’re stuck stapling all day long, or wondering exactly how there is any meaning in what you are doing, take solace in the fact that your company is creating jobs, influencing lives and that you have the ability to influence somebody at work and their life at home. Finding purpose through positive interactions with others boosts your oxytocin and you’ll find yourself just a tad giddy again!
Attached, But in a Rut? -Reinventing Your Relationship
The seven year itch isn’t a catch-phrase without reason. The brain seeks unique, novel and new experiences. It craves change and seeks out opportunities to try new things, create new connections and stay stimulated. Just as someone may catch your eye and spark a little imagination, sometimes we’re tempted to look at other career opportunities while currently employed. Cheating is cheating, and it’s important to know that the same reasons we cheat in relationships are the same reasons we take the call from the headhunter. Your current job is no longer meeting your needs. You are not as mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually engaged as you were a few years ago, and frankly you want, no, you crave more excitement. And you need a reason to get out of your sweats…or casual, tan khaki Fridays.
But the sad truth is…it doesn’t last. Statistically, cheaters rarely stay with the object of their affair, and job hoppers find themselves looking at career postings all too soon. Why? They haven’t learned how to meet their own needs first. They’re still looking for pleasure and purpose in all the wrong places.
Before you abandon your unsatisfying job and dive into another unhealthy one, ask yourself a bunch of questions:
- What am I attracted to? What brings me pleasure?
- How can I better align my job with what I enjoy doing?
- How best can I serve? What talents/gifts might I offer the world?
- How can I better align my job with my gifts and talents?
- Can I reinvent my role and get passionate here or am I truly better off in a new job now that I have clarity about what gives me pleasure and purpose?
Sometimes, we do fall out of love and it’s in our best interest to find a better match where our passion and purpose can shine, and sometimes we find a mate who allows us to reinvent ourselves within a fantastic relationship, and we get the added joy of watching them reinvent themselves along the way as well. Sometimes we have jobs that teach us a few lessons before we move on to the bigger, better, healthier one, and sometimes we have careers where we reinvent ourselves, refine our passions and create meaning as we go.
Successful, lasting marriages have some scientific criteria as well, and while there is no one formula for marital bliss, there is one main reason why the love lasts. A couple communicates effectively and works their way through problems, rather than avoiding them. If you’re truly bored at work, or overwhelmed and burned out, or just plain tired of all the unproductive meetings, it’s time to communicate. The next time you see your boss, try, “How might we gain a competitive edge? I’m really curious as to how we might invent a new way to play. Might we set up a time to talk about driving profitability?”
And after she blinks like you’re asking her for that elusive, oh-so-distant, long ago, but fondly remembered “bonding moment”, she’ll feel her heartbeat quicken, and you’ll both be smiling your goofy smiles, because something quite exciting just got sparked.