Towards the end of my career in the glamorous world of New Jersey state government, I was moved back to the main office building where I started my career. In fact, it was the very same floor where I began working for the state 30 years earlier.
Although the building had been improved through major renovations over the years, I noticed a few things that bothered me.
First, I realized that the ladies’ restroom was exactly the same as it was when I was in high school! It even had the same big lounge chair that people would lie down on if they felt sick.
This whole scene made me a little sick. The entire bathroom was disgusting.
The next thing I noticed was that the women who used this ancient bathroom didn’t talk to each other. They didn’t even say “hello.” We saw each other all of the time, but we didn’t really know each other.
Even though I knew I was reaching the end of my rope with the state, I was determined to not let this situation bring me down any further.
I made it my mission to make my work environment friendlier. My idea was to liven up and brighten up the ladies’ room.
I brought in baskets, toiletries, lotions, creams, hair sprays and even artificial plants and flowers. These were small, inexpensive items, but they made a huge difference in an awful bathroom that was screaming for a fresh start.
Within an hour, people started stealing stuff.
I was livid. The few people who knew I was doing this told me I was wasting my money and time because things would never change.
But I kept telling myself that they weren’t going to win. I had a giant box of supplies in my office. When stuff would disappear from the ladies’ room, I would quietly walk in and replace what was missing.
I finally decided to put up a sign in the room that said these items were being purchased and given to you by a co-worker, not the state. In other words, if you’re stealing stuff to stick it to your boss, you’re wasting your time.
It took a long time – probably months – but people eventually started talking to each other. Not just small talk about the weather, but real conversations. By the time I retired, other women in the office were buying things for the bathroom.
It may not seem like much, but getting people to simply acknowledge one another’s presence was a big step. Getting people to be nice to each other was a major cultural shift.
Why am I telling you this story?
Admittedly, I wasn’t exactly happy at my job when I retired. But I would have gone crazy if I let other people bring me down to their level of misery.
I was persistent. I wasn’t afraid of failing. I refused to accept a miserable environment as my everyday reality.
I didn’t change the world, but I took it upon myself to make small changes that made a big difference. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did indeed happen.
This is one reason why I launched Time Well Spent in the first place. I figured that if I could do little things to help people value and enjoy their time, it would make a big difference in their lives.
If you feel like you’re not enjoying life as much as you could be, hand over some of the things that take up your valuable time to us. Everyone deserves to be happy, right?
Let us help you spend more time doing the things you love with the people you love. That’s Time Well Spent.