Do you get bored at work? When you’re working on a project or daily task, do you feel disengaged, disinterested, or distracted? Ever find yourself watching the clock, eager for your next break or day’s end?
    If so, then a good next question to ask yourself is: What character strength(s) am I underusing? When we bring forth the best parts of ourselves, we feel more energy, happiness, and connection with what we are doing. If you are disconnected from what you are doing, you may be in a state of stress, in need of strengths use. Although increasing strengths use at work will not always be the answer for every stressor, it is a straightforward approach to turn to when you experience tension, boredom, or apathy. We spend an abundance of hours of our life at our job, so it’s important we make the most of that time. I remember working on an assembly line at a beer distributing and recycling plant more than twenty years ago. Although assembly work is usually considered especially boring, I don’t recall feeling that way on the job; on the contrary, generally speaking, I felt interested and engaged. I chalk this up to my signature strength of curiosity. I was curious about the bottle labels, I enjoyed scouting the factory for new marketing materials or trinkets the distributors and truck drivers brought in, I was attentive to the various sounds of the plant, and I was intrigued by the machines that crushed the cans and bottles. While I sorted the colored bottles, I explored. While I mashed cans, I listened. Boredom was not an issue because my curiosity was ever-present. Someone else working on an assembly line might turn to their own signature strength of social intelligence as they interact with the other workers, or to their appreciation of excellence as they marvel at the precision of the machinery and how the whole process comes together as an organized system. You can align your signature strengths with your job regardless of what your work is. A teacher might turn to her top strengths of zest and hope to engage the students. A construction foreman can turn to his leadership and prudence as he follows a specific plan and manages a crew. An accountant might wonder how her highest strength of love relates to her profession, but upon reflection, she realizes that she loves working with numbers and mathematical formulas, that she treats all her coworkers with warmth, and that she’s consistently thoughtful to her boss by submitting her forms to him early each day to ease his pressure. One set of researchers put this concept of aligning work tasks and strengths to the test (Harzer and Ruch 2016). They randomly selected workers to use four of their signature strengths during work tasks for the period of a month. Compared to a control group, the workers who aligned their strengths at work had higher life satisfaction and greater levels of thinking of their work as a “calling.” This belief makes the work feel especially meaningful, like an extension of self. The study also highlights that it’s particularly important for workers to know and use their signature strengths—it doesn’t matter which of the 24 is highest, it only matters that the person is aware of using their signature strengths. Why not turn to your most energizing qualities—give your worklife a strengths workout?
    Align Your Strengths with Work Activities Consider the five tasks or activities that you do most frequently at work (attending meetings, emailing clients, making sales calls, writing reports). Now consider your top five character strengths. Using the examples as a model, come up with at least one way you can bring one or more of your strengths to each of the five tasks. This activity also asks you to consider how you might overuse and underuse your strengths to help you prevent imbalances and stay in the zone of optimal use. You can complete the worksheet here and download it for additional practice at to start taking action at work! Work Task/ Activity Signature Strength Alignment (how you will use the strength while doing the task) What might overuse look like? What might underuse look like? Running a meeting Humor Gratitude I will tell a funny story to start off the meeting. I will spot one coworker’s strength at each meeting and express my appreciation to them. Telling two or three jokes in a row that take up too much time. Becoming too gushy with my gratitude and losing focus on why I’m doing it. Not laughing at a colleague’s joke or funny story. Forgetting to spot strengths of my coworkers. Storing medical files Prudence When I have a stack of files, I will find a way to organize them in smaller stacks and put them away in groups in a timely way. If this approach to organizing takes up more time than it saves me. Seeing files stack up day after day and avoiding filing them.
    Now that you’ve found expression of yourself in your daily work activities, let’s expand this to others in your workplace. Take a moment to consider each of your main coworkers. What are their signature strengths? What strengths do they bring forth strongly in the workplace? What do you most appreciate or admire about each person? Be sure to include your teammates, subordinates/supervisees, and especially your boss/supervisor. Start with the colleagues you work most closely with, then you can add more people if you wish.
    You’re off and running in deploying character strengths in different ways to energize your work and appreciate others. Now let’s shift gears and turn to another important area of your life.
    Wadifa Club
    writer and blogger, founder of Dog food planet .

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