Article by Teala Wilson
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Think about the last time you had a "best day" at work. What happened?
For some people, these best days involve being a problem-solving hero. Others like being a valued contributor of a team working on a particularly challenging project. A really great day at work could even be one when someone is given a new level of responsibility on their team.
Whatever the reason for your best day, having one probably felt energizing and invigorating. Now, you're probably itching to have more days just like it.
If you could have more control over how many best days you have, I bet you'd jump at the chance. In fact, many people would: In 2016, The Conference Board found that a little more than half of American workers were unhappy at work.
Why Should You Want to Have More Best Days at Work?
Back in the 1980s, the concept of work-life balance gained popularity as a way of conceptualizing the separation between the personal and the professional. Before that, people spoke about "work-leisure balance."
Both terms are a little misleading, though. The idea that you must balance work against life or leisure suggests that any tipping of the scales in either direction is a problem. The bigger problem is that our obsessions with work-life balance can make us forget we're still living life when we're at work. Our workplace ambitions are often rooted in our personal ambitions. We are personally attached to the work we produce. We take personal pride in our work accomplishments and want to talk to our friends and families about them.
It makes sense that we want more best days at work because we want more best days in life.
What Can You Do to Have More Best Days at Work?
Let's say you get a solid eight hours of sleep every night. That leaves you with 112 waking hours per week, more than a third of which you spend working (if you're a full-time employee). Having some control over whether or not those hours are any good is important. Think about it: For you to enjoy life, and for your employer to benefit, you'll have to enjoy what you do for a living.
Here are some ways to help yourself have more best days:
1. Understand Why Your Work Matters
If you don't know how your work contributes to team, department, and organizational goals, it's easy to feel like you're spinning your wheels with no real purpose. Even if you think you clearly understand how you fit into the big picture, it may be beneficial to sit down with your manager and discuss it. You might just gain some new insights into how your work drives organizational success! Better yet, you'll begin to understand your why, which can really open your eyes to new realizations and possibilities.
2. Ask for Opportunities to Grow
Seeking out opportunities for growth, like skill-building courses or new assignments slightly outside your comfort zone, shows your willingness to meet new challenges. When you have a growth mindset, you can learn from everything you do.
3. Work With People You Like and Trust
Working with a cohesive team of people who are invested in the work they're doing is a gift. When trust is strong, people are more open to ideas, information, and even being challenged. Building solid team relationships can open the door to more opportunities for growth. It's not about working with your best friends; it's about working with people who help you be better.
4. Be Confident in Being Yourself at Work
No one should have to put on a work persona when "clocking in." It's stressful to hide parts of yourself out of fear you won't be accepted. There's some evidence it can hurt your career, but it can also damage companies that don't value inclusion.
5. Speak Up When Problems Arise
Work can be tough, but nothing will change if you don't stand up to say something. Before you assume the answer to what you want is "no," have a conversation about it, especially if you're considering looking elsewhere for work. Need more time with your manager? Ask. Not sure how you're doing? Ask. Having a hard time with a project or another person? Speak up.
You can have more best days by staying authentic, honest, and curious. When you take an active role in seeking out the opportunities, feedback, and information you need to thrive, you'll feel more connected to the people around you and more invested in the goals you're working to achieve.
A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.
Teala Wilson is a talent management consultant at Saba Software. She supports HR professionals on national and global levels in areas such as performance management, recruitment, employee benefit programs, training and talent development, workforce planning, and internal communications. In her spare time, Teala enjoys visual arts and design.