My job sucked. Long hours and reduced pay for everyone during the first year of the pandemic, along with a lack of simple recognition, led me to consider bailing.
But before I joined millions of others in the “Great Resignation,” I decided to try and appreciate my job in new ways. I knew any change had to start with my own outlook and actions, so when one of my coworkers asked if I wanted to join a workplace fantasy football league, I said yes.
It didn’t matter that I rarely watch football
I grew up in a football-loving family, but as a teenager in the ’80s who loved new-wave music and rebelled against the jocks, I rejected sports simply on principle. Later, in my 30s, I realized I enjoyed the instant camaraderie and bond formed when sharing the ritual of rooting for a team or against one — even if I still don’t love the sport and refuse to spend three hours watching a game.
For the past four years, prior to the pandemic, I worked remotely from my home office. This arrangement allowed for a flexible work schedule, giving me the freedom to go to weekly yoga classes, business networking luncheons, and quick shopping trips.
When pandemic lockdowns started, like most people, I didn’t bother to look presentable and relied too much on email and instant messenger.
Days would go by without any phone conversations or video calls
As I worked on my commitment to make changes to give my job a second chance, I was excited to start something fun with my coworkers.
Our league’s draft happened just one day after I committed to join. My heart sank as I realized I was in over my head. No amount of frantic Googling or watching online videos helped me understand the basics of the game. Every article was beyond my limited knowledge.
Ready with my glass of sauvignon blanc, I logged on to the video chat to begin the league draft with several salespeople, my boss, some IT folks, and another marketing colleague. After I fumbled through the first half, a salesperson shared his draft strategy with me. He sorted players and chose them by their projected season points.
“How do you do that?” I created. After he showed me the simple steps, I recruited what turned out to be my best player.
Seven weeks into the season, I had zero wins
Sitting in last place, I asked for help from another one of my fellow fantasy football players. We worked together for three years, but we rarely talked about personal stuff. I knew he had a wife and children, but not much more.
When I asked him to help me understand fantasy football, his face lit up. He shared the types of players I should have on my team, how to add available players during the week, and simple strategies for optimizing my weekly points.
From there, we talked about his recent family trip to an amusement park and his ability to watch a football game on his app while he waited in line for a ride. It was the first time his daughter rode a roller coaster.
I shared my favorite hiking and birding spots around my current home of Las Vegas and told him about the small stand of Aspens turning yellow on nearby Mount Charleston — a place tourists to Las Vegas usually miss.
Being part of the league gave me an incentive to reach out to my teammates
I called more often than emailed, and I joined meetings a couple minutes earlier to participate in silly chatter about the week’s games.
My attitude toward my job and my relationships with coworkers improved simply because I agreed to join a fantasy football league.
I made an effort to try something outside my comfort zone
While I didn’t think being part of a fantasy football league would dramatically change my view of work, the camaraderie and connection improved my overall job satisfaction. Now, instead of writing my resignation letter, I’m looking forward to the next draft.
At the end of the season, I ended up in 11th place, but I still feel like I won.