When it comes to social media trends, I don’t think there’s one I’ve fallen for more than the trend of romanticizing different areas of your life (get it?!). Lame jokes aside, romanticizing is the idea that you can add pleasure and enjoyment to things beyond just dating or your relationships. It’s about living a quiet life and intentionally making an environment you love to spend time in, whether that’s by cooking meals you enjoy, refreshing your space to be more you, or taking yourself on dates on a regular basis. It’s the antithesis to the hustle culture we all grew up in, and I was so excited to give it a try when I stumbled across it.
After spending some time romanticizing my day-to-day life for a while, it got me thinking about whether the trend could also be applied to my career, and if so, how? Working a 9-5 or being self-employed isn’t an area that we often think about as being soft and enjoyable, but maybe there’s a way to bring in some of the best parts of romanticizing. I’ve spent the last month trying to romanticize my career and have thoroughly enjoyed the process, and now I’m sharing what I’ve learned along the way so you can too.
Change your mindset
If you’re working a job that doesn’t make you leap out of bed every morning, you’re not alone. Having to work for a living isn’t something that most of us want to do, but that doesn’t mean you should view it as a chore and slog through the day—waiting until 5pm or Friday to roll around is no way to live. When I decided to pull in elements of romanticizing to my career, the first place I started was looking at what I liked about my job. I love writing and I love the flow I get into while strategizing and editing other people’s work, so I chose to focus on that part of my role and remind myself how lucky I am to get paid to do that. It might sound fluffy, but I found myself having less Sunday scaries leading up to the work week and more enjoyment in the moment when I made a real effort to focus on the positives of my career throughout the day.
Create a space that makes you happy
This tip was the biggest game changer when it came to adding more joy and intentionality to my work. I don’t know about everyone else, but sometimes I get so set on the functionality of my office that I don’t take the time to optimize it for what I actually like. With the goal of creating a space that made me feel like the main character in a cozy fall rom-com, I revamped my home office and brought in some fall candles, hung some aesthetic prints from Etsy, lit my diffuser, and swapped out my clunky black office chair for a cute beige fuzzy one (that still supported my back, because that’s key!). Trust me when I tell you that it made a world of difference when I sat down to do my work in a space that was so pretty and calming.
If you’re in a physical office or have less ability to modify your space, focus on the small things to make your day more enjoyable: always have a soft sweater or blanket nearby if it gets cold, keep photos you love on your desk, and have a stash of your favorite pens or office supplies ready to go (I swear by my pink Post-Its and Zebra BP pens!). I also recommend that everyone updates their laptop background photo to something seasonal and inspiring (*cough* The Everygirl monthly backgrounds *cough*). It might seem trivial, but the little things can really impact your overall mood each day!
Be intentional about your breaks
If taking a work break often looks like scarfing down a granola bar while scrolling TikTok for 10 minutes only to jump immediately back to your computer or hop on the next call, listen up! I was in the same camp—it’s basically the opposite of slow and intentional, and nobody would be calling it romantic. I decided that my breaks needed to change in the name of romanticizing my career, so I started planning out what they would look like at the beginning of the day. I sometimes take a phone-free walk outside, spend some extra time brewing a special coffee and drinking it on my balcony, or using the time to play with my dogs or call my mom. By actually taking a break and giving my brain time to not be online or productive, I noticed that I felt refreshed and ready to pick back up when I sat down at my desk to start working again. That calmness trickled through the rest of my day, giving me perspective and helping me feel less overwhelmed.
Engage all of your senses
When I started researching the steps to romanticizing my life (according to the TikTok girlies), I quickly discovered that engaging all of the senses is key. To bring this into my daily 9-5 and my evening freelance work, I decided to have a quick morning checklist I would run through to ensure I was covering all my bases before starting work. For smell, I would turn on my favorite diffuser scents or light a candle. For touch, I’d wear clothing that I loved and was comfortable instead of stuffy corporate wear or yesterday’s sweats. For sound, I’d play some soft folk or instrumental playlists (the Little Women soundtrack is amazing and motivational!), and taste was always fruit-infused water, coffee, or tea. As for sight, I hung new art and made an updated vision board with some aspirational career goals instead of the bland calendar I used to have above my desk. These are small things, but they really made my day feel so much more enjoyable and reminded me that my 9-5 could be a lot more pleasurable if I put a little effort in.
Set boundaries that work for you
While it’s not something exclusive to the idea of quiet living or romanticizing your life, setting healthy boundaries is a key part of making your work days more enjoyable and relaxing. If you’re spending all of your time accommodating other people’s needs or doing things you don’t want to do, you’re going to feel resentful and burnt out pretty quickly. When it comes to your career, take some time to really consider if you can take another task with your current workload or if you want to volunteer for that extracurricular before signing up, and chat with coworkers about what your ideal work day looks like so they can be aware. For me, I recently chatted with my manager and was able to delegate some projects that were less interesting to me so I could focus more on the work I really enjoyed. This, in turn, allowed me to finish work by 5pm more often and gave me back my evenings so I could focus on new hobbies, self-care, and socializing, which made me a lot happier and more relaxed overall.
Take your time
I knew that slowing down and being intentional was at the heart of the romanticizing movement and something I really wanted to try to pull into my fall work days, especially when receiving constant emails and never-ending Slack messages. When I took a closer look at my habits, I was shocked at how often I was immediately dropping everything to respond to an email or hop on a call without taking a moment to collect myself first, and how that made me feel like I never had enough time in the day (plus my stress levels would jump with each *ping*). When I implemented a rule of waiting a little bit before responding to messages or calls, my anxiety levels went way down. It also reduced the amount of back-and-forth needed when I stopped to really examine the ask or question before responding. That’s not to say you should ignore everything or completely disregard all deadlines (definitely don’t do that), but it’s worth remembering that not everything is an emergency. Adding more calm and pleasure into your day can really be as simple as pausing and taking a moment to yourself before jumping into action—your peace at work is worth slowing down for!