A friend of mine is getting a dog this week. She and her partner both love dogs but have put off getting one for years because of their busy work schedules. Neither of them is CEO of a major corporation or something similarly high profile but they both take their jobs very seriously and dedicate a significant amount of time and energy to their responsibilities leaving little time for much else.
Recently they both started to feel like they were heading toward professional burnout. They didn’t feel like their efforts were being recognized at their workplaces and negativity about coworkers was starting to follow them home to the extent that they spent a significant amount of their limited time away from work talking about work.
Recognizing that they were getting into bad and unsustainable habits, they decided to take a multi-prong approach to solving the problem. They talked with their supervisors about shifting some responsibilities around so they felt like they were spending a larger percentage of time on meaningful work. They started to make a concerted effort to step outside of their comfort zones and take risks at work, for example, offering to make a presentation at a big meeting, to reinvigorate and empower them. And, they spent their weekends going from shelter to shelter to find their dog.
Even the process of finding the dog has begun to help the couple feel better about the day-to-day at work. Evening conversations are now dominated by discussions of where to put the dog bed instead of rants about incompetent co-workers. They both have said that they are making an effort to be more efficient during the workdays so that they can have free weekends to go to animal shelters. Even the bad moments, such as when a dog they liked was adopted by another family, have had a positive effect as they shifted their emotional investment to something outside the workplace.
In the end, they found the right dog for them and will be taking her home this week. They will need to organize a dog walker and other support systems because their workplace responsibilities will not disappear but for now they are happy to have put their priorities into place in a way that makes sense for their lives and their values.
A dog isn’t for everybody but how else can you use things outside your workplace to improve your outlook within your workplace?