There’s nothing sadder than when your company, well-meaning as it may be, decides you need to have more fun at work.
Because you’ve seen what “fun” means, right?
Lame baby picture contests. Saturday picnics that take you away from family time. Artery-clogging snackfests in the break room.
I applaud the intent, but think it’s the rare culture that can truly pull off legislating fun at work.
Companies would be better served creating environments to let people have the freedom each day to bring their superpowers to work.
That’d be fun.
But let’s think about you.
If you want more fun in your life at work, here are four ways you can create it yourself–without pulling out your old baby pictures.
How to have more fun at work
1. Find a Friend.
If you’re lucky, you already have several friends at work—people you trust, who encourage you, who think you’re just great, who lift you up and never drag you down.
Thank goodness for these folks.
Make sure that you’re finding time each day to connect with at least one of them, whether it’s a hallway hello or a quick smile via instant message.
Don’t take them for granted–nurture them and remind them how important they are to you.
Hard to find time together? Take the lead and book a monthly lunch outing on your calendars just as if it was a business meeting—even if you just brown bag it and hang together in the break room.
Is your friend in another location? A surprise phone call from time-to-time will make both of you smile, even if it’s just to say you’re thinking about them.
Sharing even a tiny part of our day heads-up with friends is always more fun than spending it heads-down in our office.
But what if you don’t have friends at work?
Remember what mom always said—to have a friend, be a friend.
I get it–when you’re an adult, making new friends seems a lot tougher than it did in the sandbox.
But often, all you have to do is stick out your hand and say:
- “I’m sorry–we haven’t met yet. I’m Andy, in accounting.”
It all starts from there.
So who would you like to get to know? Who do you keep running into, but know nothing about?
Not sure how to start? Here’s what to say:
- “You know, I keep seeing you and realize we don’t know each other well. It’s kind of silly. Would you be open to having lunch/coffee sometime soon?”
Then follow-up and get a date on the calendar. Soon, you’re on your way to finding a new friend at work.
2. Make Your Commute Time Fun Time.
Sometimes the way we feel about work is influenced by how we start our day.
If you’re listening to the news, weather, and traffic each morning, how about replacing it with something upbeat, funny, or inspiring instead?
Today, you’ve got a world of podcasts, music, audiobooks and teachings at your fingertips, all at low or even no-cost.
Riding the bus or subway? Why not pick up a book or magazine that’s outside of your usual fare, rather than burying your face in your email?
Or instead of scowling over the Wall Street Journal; do a puzzle instead or draw pictures in your planner.
Even changing your routine a few days a week can spark ideas in your brain and make you smile.
If breakfast is the most important meal of the day to feed our bodies, then try upgrading the breakfast you’re giving your mind. Feed the fun monster, and see what happens.
3. Remember Your Why.
Maybe your company makes a difference for millions of people.
Maybe your job surrounds you with amazing, talented people.
Or maybe it just provides a paycheck so you can take good care of yourself and your family.
Clarifying, knowing, and remembering why you’re at work is essential to keep yourself engaged, connected, moving forward, and having fun.
When we forget the “why”—or stop believing it matters—work quickly becomes a four-letter word.
That’s not fun.
4. Make Yourself Uncomfortable.
Sure, being uncomfortable seems like the opposite of fun.
But as human beings, we long to grow and contribute to anything we’re doing–and we often find that fun.
But the only way we can grow is to make ourselves uncomfortable from time to time.
Don’t believe me?
Think about the seed that blooms into the amazing flower.
In order to make that transformation, it has to be buried in the cold, dark ground, crack open its shell, push through the hard dirt, and s-t-r-e-t-c-h higher toward the sun and the light.
That can’t be comfortable.
Knowing you’re growing—that you’re not standing still, rotting or wasting your time—can be a lot of fun—even if you have to bust through some dirt to get there.