How Quiet Thriving May Make Your Job Better

In 2022, the quiet quitting phenomenon dominated headlines as workers across industries gave in to discouragement and settled for doing the bare minimum required to keep their jobs. Forget passion or enthusiasm — after widespread stress and burnout, these disillusioned employees were only in it for the paycheck. With such a negative workplace zeitgeist taking hold, it's no surprise, then, that a 2022 report from Gallup found that only 33% of employees feel engaged in their jobs.

When you're unhappy at work, it's easy to place all responsibility on your employer and make no effort to change things. After all, you may feel that you have no control over conditions at your job, from the tasks you personally handle to a poor company culture. However, a new career mindset is challenging this idea that we can only take what we're given at work. In contrast to last year's trend of quiet quitting, some are now celebrating the idea of quiet thriving.

Quiet thriving places control back into employees' hands by suggesting ways to boost enthusiasm and engagement at work (via The Washington Post). Depending on your situation, this can involve making career moves, mental shifts, and social overtures that add up to a more fulfilling work life. You may not be in a position to leave and pursue new employment, but you also don't have to remain miserable in your current job. If you're looking to reinvigorate your day-to-day at work, here are ways to embrace quiet thriving and help make your job feel more rewarding.

Steer your job toward your goals and interests

One of the fundamental challenges to a satisfying work life is feeling uninspired by your daily duties. However, you can sometimes tailor a job to suit your needs by finding ways to take more responsibility in the areas you engage most strongly with.

Displaying initiative is a good way to impress your supervisor, and many managers may be amenable to handing over certain tasks and projects if you show an interest. Not only will this give you job duties that you actually enjoy, but it helps your manager see where your strengths and interests lay. In the future, this could translate into a stronger emphasis on these types of projects, and a handoff of responsibilities you don't love. This gradual reinventing of your own job description is sometimes known as job crafting (via Harvard Business Review).

As one briefing from the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship observes, job crafting can "bring about numerous positive outcomes, including engagement, job satisfaction, resilience, and thriving." In short, taking a more active role in the purview of our work can help us feel happier and more invested.

Remind your brain about the upsides

If you've been caught in a downward spiral of pessimism around the conditions at work, you may end up feeling that your job has no redeeming qualities. Unfortunately, human brains have a natural tendency to focus on the negative. As psychologist Rick Hanson tells SkillPath, "Our brains are wired to scout for the bad stuff." This tendency is known as negativity bias, and it can be tricky to escape.

However, there are ways to rewrite this narrative by reprogramming the neural pathways in our minds. In a work setting, it can help to regularly remind yourself about the benefits and positive points associated with your job. You might try doing this through a job-affirming mantra, a list of good things that you hang near your desk, or even by starting a gratitude journal. As Berkley's Greater Good Magazine observes, gratitude boasts a number of benefits, from helping reduce depression and anxiety to lowering blood pressure, increasing optimism, and promoting better sleep. The key is to actively engage the reasoning part of your brain to recognize that not all is doom and gloom.

As for what to be grateful for, anything goes. Perhaps your position allows for flexible remote work, which gives you more control over your schedule and wastes less time on an endless commute. Maybe someone in your department brings in homemade cookies every Monday. Or maybe your job, while tough, involves helping people and making a real difference in their lives. Large or small, find something about your work that resonates with you and helps create that sense of gratitude to keep pessimism at bay.

Develop a work squad

They say that no one is an island. And whether you're an extrovert or an introvert, there is huge value in developing a network of friends at work. Not only do they provide a crucial social outlet that relieves the boredom of everyday tasks, but they can relate and commiserate about your job in a way that non-work friends just can't.

According to a 2021 survey by Wildgoose, 57% of people say having a good friend at work makes the job more enjoyable. But more than that, 22% report feeling equally or more productive with friends, and 21% say friendship makes them more creative. So fostering workplace friendships may literally make you better at your job.

"Invite that person that you rarely talk to out for a coffee break. Make some time at the beginning of each meeting to just have a chat with your coworkers. Try to connect on a more personal level," Leah Phifer, founder of Why Work, tells WFLA. "Having a friend or, more importantly, a best friend at work makes you more engaged, more innovative, more likely to share ideas, and you're able to get more work done in less time."

Find a cause to spur your enthusiasm

Much like job crafting can lead to enjoyable responsibilities, pursuing a few causes at work can help boost your engagement. Gartner reports that, since the pandemic, employees are increasingly concerned with a sense of purpose at work. As the team at HR Monks points out, getting involved in extracurriculars at work can provide a break from monotony, improve your workplace self-esteem, provide an opportunity to bond with teammates, and freshen up your outlook on the job.

Of course, your options will vary a little from employer to employer. For instance, look for chances to serve on volunteer committees or think tanks that will broaden your horizons. Or consider getting involved with workplace policy-making and lobbying for positive changes at your job. You might even request permission to start clubs or sports teams, like a book group or company-wide soccer league. By creating or engaging in workplace activities that align with your interests and values, you may be able to deepen your emotional investment at work and benefit from a higher level of daily satisfaction.

Celebrate your accomplishments

As well as recognizing the positive aspects of the job itself, it's important to recognize and celebrate your own accomplishments and successes at work. Many people feel stuck in their jobs by inadequacy or imposter syndrome, thinking that they'd never be able to find something better. In fact, according to a survey by Right Management, 84% of workers feel trapped in their current positions (via Payscale). Obviously, this can tank any sense of optimism or contentment on the job.

If you're experiencing similar doubts, it's important to find ways to build up your confidence at work. You can put things in perspective by remembering your accomplishments. Acknowledging that you're good at what you do can make you feel valuable in your current position, or — if there's truly no salvaging this job — prepare you to confidently seek opportunities elsewhere.

Writing out a list of your accomplishments gives you an inspiring record of your wins so far, easing that sense of job claustrophobia. Plus, it can become an easy, pre-prepared resource for the next time you need to update your resume. As BetterUp explains, listing your achievements for potential employers shows that you can produce stellar results for them because you already have a proven record of success in previous roles. So the next time you're feeling stuck or poorly qualified, reviewing your accomplishments can raise your spirits by illustrating your value at work.