Reframing is expressing a concept, idea, or product differently. When we change our point of view on any given situation, the facts remain the same, but a deliberate shift is made in how we see them. For example, we are reframing when we see a problem as a challenge and can imagine positives coming from negative situations. We can move our experience from a negative frame to a more hopeful one.
Reframing involves looking at things from a different perspective, either from your own, to motivate yourself, or to another person’s perspective, to motivate or influence them. It is a way of connecting with others, hopefully for the benefit of all concerned. Reframing can have a remarkable impact on how you view a job. Information on reframing other situations, problems, products, and so on will be included in my next e-book, The Power of Reframing in Business and Life.
In this series, however, let’s apply the concept of reframing specifically to your job situation. A simple, but unusual example of job reframing applied to a job was described in the book, The Happiness Makeover, by M J Ryan. It involves the story of a tollbooth worker on the San Francisco Bay Bridge who appeared to be dancing to background music when he wasn’t making change. When asked what he was doing, he replied that he was practicing different dances. The intention was to become a dancer someday, and according to the version in MJ Ryan’s book, he said he couldn’t see why people would think his job was boring. But, unlike his bosses in the administrative building, he has a corner office with windows on all sides and a good view of San Francisco, the Berkeley hills, and the Golden Gate. And he was being paid for the time he practiced dancing.
I can’t vouch for the truth of the story, but I have seen boiler room operators studying for their stationery engineer credentials while tending boilers. And I recall learning to juggle three oranges while waiting to remove the next crate from a conveyor belt in the basement of a supermarket in Toronto. It sure took away the boredom, and I couldn’t wait to be assigned to help unload the next shipment. Utilizing spare time wisely can make a huge difference. Especially if it’s used on something you enjoy doing.
Of course, these examples might be frowned on by the company and might do little to further your long-term career goals. But there are many ways of reframing a job you hate – or even dislike – that is advantageous for both you and the company.
If you are in a job that is pure drudgery or distasteful or stressful, for example, you can reduce its negative impact on your mental health by reframing the job in one of several ways. You could look at it as something you have chosen to do temporarily until your ideal job becomes available, for example. Or imagine you are just filling in for a while to learn certain skills, or that it is only a part-time job until you save enough money for a house or whatever. It is important to convince yourself that it is something you choose to do. That puts you in control. Stress reduces when you have control over a situation. You can be on the lookout for better work, but in the meantime, you are learning a skill, gaining experience, making new friends, building relationships, earning money, and getting experience to add to your resume. You are putting yourself in control.
Studies have shown that control is the key to stress relief and can have a major impact on your health. Remember, you are responsible for what happens to you. To lead others, you must first be able to lead yourself. According to Kerry Hannon, in her book, Love Your Job, the essence of control is a feeling that you are in control of your destiny to some extent. She also believes that you can transform your job into one you love.
That’s one reason time management is important. It lets you control your workload, working time, interruptions, and so on. And an organized environment helps with control as well and removes stress from your working environment. How you work, whom you work with, and your relationship with your boss, not just what you do, determine whether the job is dull and stressful or more enjoyable and stress-free.
Psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi claims the secret to happiness at work is a mental state he calls “flow.” He says that flow is the intersection of what you are good at and what challenges you – where difficulty and competency meet. Jeff Goins, in his book, The Art of Work, suggests that “When your competency exceeds the difficulty of a task, you are bored. And when the difficulty exceeds your competency, you are anxious.” He goes on to explain that his problem at one time was that he was bored, so he took action to make the job more difficult and challenging. If this were the case, you could do this by taking on new responsibilities or helping someone else who has a more challenging job. Of course, you might also earn a promotion within the same organization. Or you might start your own small business, which is challenging regardless of how routine the actual work might be.
In the case of a job that is too challenging for your current level of expertise, you might register for workshops or courses, check out information on YouTube videos, buy specific books, or whatever. And in the short term, you might ask for help and get some on-the-job training. In all of this, you are adding purpose to your job and life.
Regardless of the job, if you have a reason for doing it, you have added purpose to your life, and the job takes on a new meaning. We will discuss this in Part 4.
In the meantime, if you would like to download a copy of the Special Report: How to love the job you hate, it is available at our website for $4.95 CDN. Click here.