How I learnt to maintain a positive outlook at work

Guest blog by Winifred Dike

The challenges

We’ve all been there. Sometimes we hit a wall, and we hit it hard. I’ve been there several times during my career and a couple of years ago, I struggled with showing up 100 percent at work. I thank God for my mum because in those times I kept hearing her voice saying to me “you are working for God, not man”, as the Bible says in Colossians 3:23- ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.’ So, I would get up and force myself to move, because I was determined to show up, with my heart in it. Unfortunately, on some of the days when I felt really lazy, I would snooze for ten minutes and end up losing one hour because I would have missed the staff bus which meant I had to drive or get an Uber, crawling through traffic, just to be able to get to work on time. It wasn’t good.

I would get to the office, and that would be another challenge. Everything seemed mundane, routine and boring. Nothing seemed to excite me anymore. This meant I would sometimes get lost in my thoughts or a random ‘research’ online.

 

Self-help ideas

I knew that I couldn’t afford to miss a deadline so I began to write out what I needed to accomplish a day before and reviewed it as my first task when I got into work the next day. Once I started to do this, I began to feel more accomplished.

Not long after, I realised that simply doing lists was not enough. Sometimes I would get to work and look at the long list of things I had to do, and it would seem impossible! I started to pick the easier tasks on the list that I knew I could get done without much of a struggle. This gave me an idea; I started breaking down each item on my list into smaller tasks which made it easier to regain my focus, not to mention tick many items off at the end of the day. At times I felt like I was cheating, but I came to love it. If this was an exam, I would be scoring above 70% on a daily basis- I was winning!

However, I still found myself struggling to carry the energy of the morning, through the whole day.

 

Introducing rewards and adventure

So, I decided to do one more thing- reward myself. Everyone likes rewards. Personally, I love rewards and adventure, so, I added rewards to each task, to help me stay focused. I’ve always loved reading, so rather than look for extra time in the day to read, I decided to commit to not driving to work and using the time instead to read (this gave me the motivation I needed to get out of bed in the morning). When I got to work, I would make my first cup of coffee after my first accomplished task, snack after the next, and go have a quick chat with a friend if I could accomplish an agreed number of tasks by noon. These were my rewards.

I added ‘adventure’, saying ‘yes’, to outings after work and lunch away from my desk. So, I would work extremely hard during the day, in the hope that if an interesting opportunity presented itself, I could say ‘yes’ without feeling guilty. I registered at a gym with some work colleagues and this was a great opportunity to bond. The exercise even helped me sleep better!

 

The God factor

Whilst all of this was great- my champion to-do lists, accomplished tasks, rewards and adventure, I realised that it felt like I was operating like a robot. I wasn’t quite connecting with the present because I kept looking forward, for the next bout of excitement. Deep down, I was unhappy, and anxious.

A friend of mine regularly prayed with me and she would ask me to just be still. So, I decided to allow myself to slow down, put my hope in God and enjoy His peace. I would wake up and remain on my bed for a few minutes, thanking God for the day, before my feet hit the ground, literally. I started getting up from my desk at work, to sit and be still, somewhere other than at my desk. Psalm 62:5 says, ‘Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him’. And I did just that. I rested in God, and after a while, found myself again – doing the same things I had been doing, but this time, with heart.

 

The lesson

 

So, how did I learn to maintain a positive mindset at work even in the tough times? I believe the difference came when I began to look to my Maker for my strength. All the tips I had incorporated into my work life were great, but on their own, were not enough. When I included God in the picture, I began to walk with a spring in my step, my laugh was louder, my smiles, brighter, and all the energy I was giving was being reflected back to me. All because I found rest in God and put my hope in Him for everything. I began to see Him smiling at me, and reassuring me even through my fellow human beings, throughout the day. I felt God reminding me that I was needed, and it was important for me to continue to show up.

So, my advice to you is this; even when you feel like giving up, get up, show up and keep drawing strength from God. You are needed and that is why you are still here.

Winifred Dike is passionate about God and everything that matters to her. She’s a creative and meticulous individual with an overly analytical mind. She enjoys reading, photography, watching series, listening to music and spending time with loved ones. She particularly enjoys writing, from short love notes and long letters, to articles and reports. To find out more about her, you can follow her on Instagram @winniechecx.