4 Ways to Feel Like You're More Than Just An Employee (Remember Fun?)

“Ouch.”

That’s what I wanted to say when a colleague shared what was going on in her company. It ended with a very direct statement that literally took my breath away.

"All I am is a number to them, and all they are is a paycheck to me."

Ugh. To me, this is the saddest professional statement. 

How many of us have felt that way? More importantly, what can you do about it? I’ve found that even if your current work situation feels dire, there are actions we can take to stay motivated and happy.

#1 – Find your tribe: Fortunately, the colleague who made this statement did so in a small group setting, with friends she could trust. Finding that relationship in the workplace is SO critical. We are social animals. We seek and need connection. The ability to be honest and vulnerable with our peers is such a gift. Find your small group and allow them to see, hear and nurture you.

#2 – Find and focus on what’s right: Even in challenging roles, there is always some good to be found. Do you love your coworkers? (Even one…?) Is the work you’re doing rewarding and challenging? Are you learning new skills that will benefit your career? Does the pay enable you to travel or invest in the things that are important to you? Remind yourself of these positives. If it helps, put a sticky note in your cube or a note on your phone to remind you of all that is right in your day.

#3 – Change the nature of your work: Changing jobs just may not be realistic. Changing the nature of our jobs can be. More and more companies offer work from home as a regular practice, and many roles offer flexibility in the work day. I’m not advising cutting out for the day by 1 p.m. (!), but what I am advising is finding a way to meet the demands of your role in a way that is better suited to you. If you can work from home in shorts and a t-shirt one day a week, do that. If you’d prefer to make a 4 p.m. yoga class and get back online in the evening, and you can do that and still meet the demands of your job, do that.

#4 – Define yourself outside the scope of your job: We are multi-faceted individuals. I bet that there are LOTS of things that you like to do when you’re not working! Have you lost sight of those things? Rekindle them. Take even 30 minutes this week to spend time on an activity you enjoy. When people ask what you do, resist the urge to define yourself with your job title. Work is but one aspect of your life – take time to focus on the others!

Tina Schweiger