Unlock Your Work Happiness

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The Ultimate 3 Step Process to Help You Bounce Back from Career Failure

career failure


A few years ago something very difficult happened in my career. Now that I look back on it…

It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

I wouldn’t wish career failure on anyone, but sometimes it can put things into perspective and give someone the kick-start they were afraid to do themselves.

I was laid off in 2011 and I looked very hard for a job. A good job, something I could get excited about. The few good ones out there were difficult to come by, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Your career is filled with learning experiences, and many of them occur because of failure. This is natural — when you are pushing yourself outside your comfort zone you will fall down.

I’ve failed so many times, it’s a bit embarrassing. And it also makes me stronger. After months of searching I decided to go all in with starting my business. Along the way there have been many painful moments.

I did a radio interview for a national program a couple years ago. I went into the studio, and the engineer guided me through the whole process. The microphone was at eye level. I was comfortable and armed with knowledge to dispense. I was ready. The whole process made me feel very important. After it was over, I asked her, “How did I do?”

“You did ok,” she said.

I was expecting a more enthusiastic response. It was like a punch in the gut.

“Just ok?”

“Your tone was flat.”

“Really? How could I improve?” I asked.

“Try to vary your voice more, and if you feel passionate about a particular question, let it out in your answer.”

She was right. I held back because I was afraid of showing the true me. The next radio interview I did still lacked punch, but by the 10th one I had improved a great deal. The radio interview could have catapulted my career and it ended up doing nothing for me.

Failures are a part of everyone’s career. If it isn’t then you have to ask yourself, “Am I taking enough risks?”

I had a client max out his credit cards to start up a business that failed. He filed for Chapter 13, cleared his debt and started a new business that became successful.

You must keep moving forward, even if it’s only one little shuffle step at a time.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas A. Edison

Yes, I still get upset when I mess up. My inner arch nemesis takes a bite out of me, but it doesn’t last very long any more. I let him nibble on my pain, then end it before it gets out of control. I have too many people I want to help to let my sad feelings hold me back from doing my work.

Do you want feel happier and be more productive in your career? Find out the 7 most important steps to doing work you love and getting better results while doing it. Click here to check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide.

1. Understand Your “Why”

You will have career setbacks. You won’t be able to prevent them. In fact you should embrace them.

It starts with understanding why you do what you do. If you can’t answer why you do what you do with any conviction, it might be time to change your career.

If you can answer your why, then this is where you can dig a little deeper to understand how you can get better results.

Next time you have a career setback, just ask yourself, “Why should I continue working?”

By phrasing this question to garner a positive response, your brain will gravitate towards finding solutions that will help you grow in new directions.

“I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.” – Benjamin Franklin

Your mindset is the most important aspect of letting go of failure. The quicker you can let go and bring back a happy and positive mindset the easier it will be for you to take action again.

2. Ask for Feedback from Quality People

The feedback that many people give you at work isn’t always well thought out or what you want to hear. That’s why asking quality people for feedback is important. You want to ask people who have good values and who won’t let their feelings get in the way of giving you feedback that you can use to grow.

Once you’ve asked for feedback, you need to listen very deeply to the response. Especially if it’s done with pause and consideration for your best interest.

That’s why I suggest not asking to anyone who could have trouble putting their love aside for you. (*cough – your mom, dad, or a best friend – cough*)

By asking people who believe honesty is more important than making you feel good, you can find out where to put your focus. Once you find a few quality people, just tell them openly about the situation, and ask them, “Using mostly facts and as few feelings as possible, what do you think I could do to make this situation better?”

3. Create a 30-Day Project

Now that you have feedback on how you could improve, you have to look at how you can use this information to make your career more enjoyable. What were they able to tell you that you didn’t already know?

This is where it can get difficult.

You have to separate the super-helpful from the non-helpful.

Look at what they said and what resonated with you. Then think about three ways you could improve on this part of your career. Look at each idea and pick the one that you like the best. Turn this into a flexible goal. Better to start with an idea that you like and that can grow with you than procrastinate on taking action trying to figure out which is the perfect idea.

Then schedule a daily plan for the next 30 days. What project could you accomplish in the next 30 days to level up your career?

Not sure how to create a 30 day project that will boost your happiness and career? Check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide that walks you step by step through a proven process that’s worked for hundreds of people.

Pick how much time each day you want to spend on accomplishing this goal. Try to be flexible and understanding with yourself. Depending on how intense your career setback was, you may want to schedule some recharge days, not work on your project every one of the 30 days.

I was laid off from my job 2011, and it took me a couple of weeks to figure out what my next move was going to be. I panicked trying to envision my entire future instead of starting with a short-term plan that I could build on and adjust as I went along.

You need to focus on slowly building a better, stronger, and happier career that allows you to grow. Each day is a chance to build habits that can help you feel happier and help more people.

When you’ve come to the end of your 30 days, then look at what went well and what could be improved for your next 30 days. It’s this measuring and refining process that most people slip up on. That’s why 30 day increments are important.

You can improve your career one day at a time andone month at a time. If you do, I promise you’ll get results over the course of the next year.

Your Next Step

Look at your career and make sure you understand your why, then follow up with honest feedback from a friend then create a project that will give your career a boost.

What project could you start and work towards in the next 30 days to help more people that you care about?

10 Unique Ways to Boost Your Happiness and Creativity

happy and relaxed with laptop

happy and relaxed with laptop

Let’s not pretend that happiness and creativity is something as easy to come by as taking a pill. There are no quick fixes, but that does not mean that there aren’t tools that you can use.

A few weeks ago I was stuck in a rut, battling and a severe case of writer’s block. All creative juices, which had previously flown free, were as stagnant as a tepid swamp, rendering me nearly incapable of creating even the simplest of sentences.

During my dry spell I had plenty of time to reflect on my condition and my life, and found that not only had my creativity disappeared, but also my happiness. After some serious introspection, I learned that the key to curing my writer’s block simply involved boosting my mood.

Recent studies have shown that creativity and happiness go hand in hand, with each boost of joy giving way to free-flowing thoughts and ideas. While the moody, brooding starving artist stereotype is widely accepted, it’s not actually the best way to inspire original ideas. In fact, there’s a strong correlation between creativity and physical and mental well-being, as people that take care of themselves can experience heightened creativity.

Fully equipped with this information, I began a quest for good vibes and creative juices, coming across several successful strategies along the way. If you’re facing a creative dry spell and are searching for solutions, give these get-happy tips and tricks a try.

Special notice: The Unlock Your Career Happiness Guide is now available. Click here to learn the 7 most important steps to doing work you love and getting better results while doing it.

1. Go to a Café

Aside from copious amounts of caffeinated beverages, there may be a reason why writers often frequent local coffee shops and cafes. According to a recent study, certain levels of white noise can help boost creativity, and a specialty drink has been known to sweeten the deal too.

2. Laugh

As trite as the saying may be, laughter truly is the best medicine, even for writer’s block. Even if you’re not in the most cheerful mood, attempting even the smallest of giggles can engage the part of your brain responsible for making decisions, creating ideas and changing your mood.

3. Grab a Drink

When you’re at a literal lack for words, sipping something strong is known to boost brainpower. According to a recent study, participants who drank alcoholic beverages were more creative than those who didn’t imbibe. One or two drinks seems to be the sweet spot, though, since the real effects of alcohol start after that and our brain starts to slow down.

4. Exercise

Believe it or not, getting in a daily sweat session may be just what the doctor ordered for a case of inconsistent creativity. Not only will getting fit help to activate your mind, exercising will also release a ton of endorphins guaranteed to give your mood a serious boost.

5. Break From the Norm

If your life is full of rigid routines, taking a break from your daily habits could bring you a much-needed mental wakeup call. Whether you choose to make a new recipe for dinner, take a different route home from work or try a new class at the gym, this change in your routine will help increase mental activity, paving the way for new ideas.

6. Take Time to Doodle

While you may be suffering from a creative dry spell, if your pen is full of ink, your ideas could be restored. According to the book “The Creativity Cure”, putting a pen to the paper – instead of fingers to a keyboard – can engage the brain and ignite a mental spark.

7. Explore

There’s nothing like new experiences to elevate your happiness and creativity. As you meet new people, try different food and take in sights you haven’t seen before, you will no doubt be filled with questions to ponder, new opinions and ideas. Don’t have the time or money to travel the world right now? Plan a weekend staycation, instead.

8. Hang Out With Friends, Especially the Sarcastic Ones

When facing a creative dry spell, spending time with snarky friends can pull you out of a mental rut. Whether it’s the wordplay or the dark humor, spending time with a sarcastic friend can give you a much-needed mental boost.

9. Play at Work

Nothing will make your day more enjoyable or pass more quickly than playing around at work. Surprisingly, getting off task sporadically throughout the day can give your mind a break, allowing it to wander and create new and innovative ideas.

10. Go Outside

There’s no place more inspirational than the great outdoors. Spending time in nature will engage all of the senses, promote positive energy and spark the imagination. As an added bonus, if you choose to work up a sweat outdoors, you will experience extra mood-boosting benefits.

While coming down with a case of writer’s block was nothing short of dreadful, the antidotes were both effective and enjoyable. I found that taking the time to relax with friends, spending time in nature and even just doodling were all underrated but powerful tools to increasing creativity and breaking out of a rut. I won’t dread the next time I temporarily lose my creativity, but will relish in the opportunity to relax, refresh and restore my imagination.

What has helped you feel happier or more productive at work this week? Leave a comment and spread happiness by helping others.

Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping others find happiness and success in their careers. Follow her for more inspiring tips at @SarahLandrum

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live your core values

I was drinking a beer with a friend who told me he never wanted to retire. He explained the benefits of not retiring, from reducing your risk of cancer and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. A laugh popped out. “Hey, don’t laugh. I’m serious,” he said. “I’m not laughing at you. I feel the same way,” I […]

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What can I do to bring more happiness to my employees?

There is one aspect of my work that makes me so amazingly happy I feel blessed to be doing what I’m doing. I think this is an overlooked part that we don’t see because we are so busy with our own lives and careers. We get to work with people who want to be happier. […]

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5 Proven Tips that Will Improve Your Productivity


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7 Ways to Treat Your Winter Blues (Seasonal Affect Disorder Emergency Kit)

winter blues

Forget everything you learned about surviving the winter blues. It’s not about the cold. It’s not about the snow. It’s not about money. I wish money could buy happiness. If I had my way, I’d boil a full pot of hot green tea, snuggle on the couch and hibernate all season long. That scenario, though, […]

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10 Habits of Brilliant Leaders

Zuckerberg quote

I recently shared a drink with a friend who runs a small company. He told me a secret that I’ve never heard him discuss before. He talked with me about his employees’ moods and how they can fluctuate in such a broad way, which really affects the quality of their work. “A few years ago […]

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9 Powerful Tips to Help You Ace Every Job Interview

job interview

Here’s an important point no one ever shares. You do not have to be the most qualified person applying for a job to get hired. You just have to be the person your interviewer likes for the job! Most managers hire for personality and passion, not your skill set. A lot of skills can be […]

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5 Ways to Make Meetings More Fun and Useful

Fun meetings

Meetings can be very powerful or big time killers. Very rarely do they fall in between. Your focus should be improving workflow and communication through better meetings, training and technology. For example there are different kinds of collaboration software that can open communication and increase productivity without having to have a formal meeting. I use […]

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15 Proven Ways to Encourage Employee Happiness and Engagement


As a leader of people you need to encourage happiness in every facet of your business. I’ve created 10 techniques that will help your company be happy and successful. These are concepts that are easy to understand, but may be hard to apply to your company’s culture. I’ll break them down so you can use […]

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