Get to work. Sit down. Open laptop.
Go on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Close all unimportant tabs and start to do some work. Get bored and open Twitter again.
Repeat cycle until end of the workday.
Finding jobs can be emotionally and existentially distressing, and as a soon-to-be graduate, I'm terrified that this cycle will become my life.
And according to a Gallup-Purdue report, only 39 percent of college graduates are engaged in their workplace, which is pretty low considering how the ultimate goal is to do what it is you love.
If you're like me and work just annoys every part of your being, then this lack of engagement along with flow is probably what's stopping you from thriving.
What exactly is engagement and flow?
Engagement is part of the PERMA model of well-being created by Martin Seligman, a staple in positive psychology.
While the E in PERMA stands for engagement, the rest of the model also highlights positive emotions, relationships, meaning and achievement as important aspects of well-being, and they are all interconnected.
For example, engagement at work can lead to achievements and finding meaning in what you do, which could lead to having a better experience during the workday and a new found rejuvenation in your career.
Flow theory, created by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, refers to the psychological phenomena of “losing track of time.”
Everyone has gotten lost in an activity, whether it be sports, reading or playing video games.
I mean, I find flow when I'm walking around the city listening to music and avoiding people who walk too slow.
Good flow comes from the motivation and concentration needed to achieve a certain goal and meet challenges, and it usually results in satisfaction and relaxation.
Dr. Alan Schlechter, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Bellevue and professor of the widely popular Science of Happiness class at NYU, tells Elite Daily,
To enter flow, there always has to be some level of challenge and the challenge has to be slightly above your capacity. I think quite often people want to do the same thing over and over again, and then they are always surprised that they are losing interest in it, and it's because we have to constantly be challenging ourselves in different ways to maintain the same level of flow.
Flow and engagement are connected in that being engaged usually leads to flow.
If you are engaged in an activity or an aspect of work, you are more likely to find the pockets of flow that will enable you to get more done and to be more deep with your work, without feeling like you're both physically, mentally and emotionally drained.
Flow is essentially what you need to get your shit done.
Dan Lerner, professor and Schlechter's partner-in-crime in their Science of Happiness class, adds,
When you find the right way to work, it might feel like you're an 11-year-old playing a video game.
So, how do you find engagement and flow in a job you don't like?
If you're also a soon-to-be graduate who is frantically looking for any job to fill the dreaded post-grad void, or if you are already in a job that you don't like but need to have, it's important to know what your strengths are.
Is there a chance to use humor if humor is your number one strength? Is there a chance to use bravery if bravery is your number one strength? Whatever your number one strength, if you are able to employ those on a regular basis, what the studies are showing is that your levels of engagement will rise.
If you're like me, who has a top character strength of teamwork and loyalty, collaborating on important projects might be the way you want to go.
If you're a barista with a top character strength of humor, then making friends with regulars and cracking jokes while serving may help you stay engaged, making the long hours of serving ungrateful people worth it.
Being engaged over the weekend in non-work activities can also spill over into your work life.
You have to spend the same amount of time working on your flow outside of work. Most of us leave our after work experiences of flow kind of up to chance.
Instead of sitting in bed, binge-watching the latest Netflix releases (I know “13 Reasons Why” just came out, but try to limit yourself), Schlechter advises you should plan out your weekends to maximize flow.
If that means reading a book that isn't for class or work, going outside and playing with your dog or just grabbing dinner with friends, then plan your schedule to accommodate those pockets of flow.
The rewards will transfer over into your work, helping you concentrate, stay engaged in your tasks and potentially lead to a domino effect of helping your form relationships at work, achieve goals and increase positive emotions.
This is also ~super~ important for Millennials because (shocker), we don't make as much as our parents at this same stage of our lives.
With debts to pay off and the seemingly sheer impossibility of owning a house at our age, this means work, and ultimately success, can't be about making as much money as possible anymore.
Schlechter offers a new model, saying,
If success is more about well-being, then you are going to strive to have more engagement in your life, and you're going to strive to have more meaning, and better relationships. You can feel really accomplished because you've got a job where you support yourself, but the job is also meaningful and makes you feel great.
So before putting in your resignation, switching jobs or re-joining the unemployment club, figure out your top character strengths, get engaged in your work and try to embrace flow.
You may end up enjoying where you are, and you might even put yourself in a better position to move forward in your career.
Or, you can just recede into your bed each morning, dreading the day to come.
Hell, I still have another month to do that before life smacks me upside the head.