ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

Everything is (not) awesome (all the time): 5 Tips for When You’re Frustrated with Work

09.07.22 by Krista Looney
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So here’s the thing:

If someone tells you that they absolutely love their job every second of every day…I’m just going to go ahead and say it. They’re lying.

Sure, you can like your job ‒ maybe even love it most of the time. But it doesn’t matter how much you excel at your work or how great your company culture is. There’s always going to be those tedious tasks that you prefer to avoid, that stretch of crazy deadlines that got you working late and on weekends, or the run of projects that you’re just not excited about. But that’s life. There’s going to be ebbs and flows of highs and lows. If everything were awesome, then nothing would be.

Especially for young professionals, it’s important to realize that going through periods of frustration and uncomfortableness at a job is normal. Just because it’s not great all the time doesn’t necessarily mean you should immediately start seeking something else. These experiences can actually help you truly appreciate the parts of your job that you enjoy and understand where your talents shine the most. Not only that, but persevering through tedium and stress develops your personal and professional character, helping you mature as a person as well as advance your career.

Still, how do you handle those intervals when you’re just not thrilled about what you’re doing at work? Here are five tips for dealing with streaks of stress or boredom at work – and coming out better on the other side:

1. Remember, it’s temporary

Not every job that you work on can be a Coda at Tech Square or OKPOP. There are going to be times when you have to slog through some repetitive, tedious, or otherwise uninspiring work while you wait for the next cool project to come down the pipe.

Even within exciting jobs, there can be uncomfortable stretches. Maybe that final push to get design drawings out has you burnt out from working overtime, or those two weeks where all you do is check shops are making you want to bang your head on the desk.

When you’re in the midst, it’s sometimes hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But remember to keep things in perspective: this is just temporary. The next cool project is coming. That break is around the corner. Just keep swimming.

2. Get out of your head

If your work life is currently a bummer, it’s probably got you pretty low on positivity. And if you keep it to yourself and let it go unchecked, your internal venting will send your thoughts into darker and darker spirals about your job, getting you more and more agitated.

Your mind can be your own worst enemy.

Air out your frustrations to a close coworker, friend, family member, or trained counselor who can empathize but also offer some perspective. Chances are, your mental grousing is causing you to overthink and make things worse than they are. If nothing else, just connecting with another person and offloading some of your negativity can give you some fresh energy to go tackle another day.

Additionally, don’t forget to take a personal day when you need it! Getting out of the office and doing something you love is a great way to recharge and clear your head. PTO isn’t just for planned vacations and sick days, it’s there for your mental health too.

3. Recognize the potential for growth

On the surface, those uninteresting or stressful periods might seem like a real drag. But it’s all about what you make of it. What seems like a professional rough patch could actually be a fortuitous opportunity for some surprisingly fun self-improvement.

So you’re bored with your current workload? Instead of using your extra mental energy to gripe about it, focus on turning it into a challenge. Wading through tedious tasks might mean it’s a good time to research new methods, learn an unfamiliar software, or develop a creative spreadsheet or app to work more efficiently. Not only will you keep your brain stimulated as you approach menial work from a new angle, you’ll make yourself more valuable by boosting future productivity and adding a new skill to your professional tool kit.

The same can be said for tasks or projects that you find stressful. Maybe you’re an introvert who dreads those cold calls and networking events, or you’re a creature of habit, but you know that learning a new program would really help you level up. Hold your nose, close your eyes, and jump in. Tackling uncomfortable tasks head-on is how you grow. What might be distressing now will become second nature over time. Your future professional self will thank you.

4. Pursue your own workflow

Not thrilled with your current track? Sounds like it could be a good time to explore. Talk to your boss and maybe see about sharing time with other groups. Alternatively, you can start to think about pursuing your own projects and clients to bring in work you’ll enjoy. Or, maybe you just need something a little different to mix into your workflow…you can always consider contributing to a company blog! (see Exhibit A)

5. Remind yourself why your job matters

When you’re frustrated, sometimes the best thing you can do is to just take a minute to sit back and remember why your contributions are important. In the AEC industry, every team member plays a critical, unique role in designing and constructing facilities and infrastructure that provide services to society. Whatever you’re doing, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, you can trace the impact through to the final product and quickly realize who you are helping and how you are actually making lives better. Everyone – from other members of the AEC team all the way to owners and individuals who will eventually use the final facility – is relying on your expertise to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

At Wallace Design Collective, our motto is “make lives better.” At the end of the day, even if it’s not always glamorous, our work has a huge impact on others. Keeping that thought at the forefront can be a great motivator, especially when times are tough. So keep on keepin’ on! Persevere and seek out the purpose and hidden opportunities in what you’re doing. You’ll be happy you did.

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Krista Looney

Structural Engineer

Ms. Looney has over nine years of experience in the field of structural engineering. Krista has performed structural assessments, inspections and roof evaluations on structures across the United States. She has also performed rapid assessments of and designed repairs for structures damaged by high winds, earthquakes and other natural phenomena. She has been a licensed engineer since 2015.

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