How to Figure Out if You Need a Career Change

* This post was first published to the Work Happy Now community via email.

Next career step

I worked in the financial industry for seven years, and I hated talking about how to increase our checking account sign-ups. It just wasn’t fun. . I knew for at least three years that I needed to get out of the industry, but never did anything about it except make it known that I wasn’t happy. I complained way too much.

I made myself miserable. I stopped trying to grow my career.

I was laid off in 2011 and the hard decision was made for me. I was forced to figure out my next move.

I recently watched an interview with Gretchen Rubin by Ramit Sethi. She talked about why she left her successful career as a lawyer. She was surrounded by peers who enjoyed talking shop with each other on the weekend. They read books about law, had casual conversations, and enjoyed the intellectual banter that came along with both.

You’ll notice that the people who enjoy talking shop at work are the ones that are in the right career. They enjoy the talk that goes into creative problem solving within their career.

Next time you are in a meeting or even grabbing a cup of coffee, watch what happens when people talk about work.

Final reminder. The Unlock Your Career Happiness guide has been released. I’ve decided to extend the bonuses for a short time. Click here to check out how it can help you break out of your rut and level up your happiness in just 30 days.

Do you join in or do you avoid the conversation?

If you notice that you avoid these conversations, then you may realize that I’m going to suggest that you change or at least tweak your career.

Of course, that is not always simple.

Ok, so I knew that I wanted to leave my job for years before I was laid off. I was moved between 3 departments in less than 2 years. The last department didn’t leverage any of my strengths. In fact it was such a bad fit that I had daily thoughts of quitting.

This same effect can happen as you get promoted. You might be promoted out of your happy state. You might be caught in mostly management meetings instead of project meetings. You might not be doing work that plays to your passions and strengths.

If you notice this trend taking place then look at which conversations at work excite you and which ones you wish you could just hide underneath your desk.

The first step is figuring out what conversations and/or meetings you want to eliminate altogether.

The next step is to create more of the conversations that excite you. Where do these conversations occur and how can you make them a larger part of your day?

Do you enjoy talking shop about your work?  Whether you do or not, please take the time to share your thoughts in the comment section.

Why Is Purpose so Important to Your Happiness?

contemplating-man-on-railing-590-2

I recently read an article that said, don’t follow your passions.

What?

I almost passed out. That’s stuff from the 1950’s. Ignore how you feel and just do the work. You can just be happy after you retire.

How well has that worked for people over the last 80 years?

Just look at the people in your community who enjoy their careers. They enjoy their work because they care about the results.

How often have you tried to do something you thought would be fun, but it ended up feeling like drudgery?

I had a friend who was a really good writer. He hit some literary success, but he hated it. He did it because his father was a writer and he was encouraged to be a writer himself. He knew how to construct a good sentence, article, and book, but the passion wasn’t there.

One night he told me, “If I have to write another godforsaken article, I’m going to scream!”

How many times have you told this to yourself about an email, or an Excel spreadsheet, or taking an order from a customer, or a request from a boss?

My friend took a sabbatical from writing just to see what would happen. He paid off his debt, was recently divorced, didn’t have kids, and had saved a bit of money (this last part is most important).

An what he did was find different ways to play.

He tried woodworking, web design, travel writing, consulting, party planning, video editing, cooking, and a few other ways to “play”. He had fun with each one, but one especially called out to him.

After 3 months he went back to writing, and he hated it. So he made a difficult choice about his happiness and his career.

He decided to pursue more happiness and let the dominoes fall where they may.

The one thing that was more than fun for him during his sabbatical was web design. He had always dabbled in Photoshop and coding, but never really pursued it. So on the weekends he stopped writing, and worked on web design instead. And he put a website up and started to promote his web design services.

Check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness Guide, so you can build a career that you lights you up inside.

The Transition

He told a few friends that he was transitioning his career to something that was more exciting for him, and I helped him with his connection strategies. He built up his portfolio and began to land a client here and there. He got  a few more clients each month, and within 18 months, he transitioned his career from writing to web design. He was earning 2/3rds of the income that he had made as a writer for hire, but he was much happier.

You have every right to feel excited about the work that you do too!

But first you need to ask yourself one big question:

What could you be doing right now to feel happier in your current career?

It doesn’t have to be life-changing actions, you don’t need to take a sabbatical or quit your job, it can be very small actions that you can build upon.

Do you want to have a conversation with your boss about expectations to get you both closer to being “on the same page”?

From Goals to Projects

I like to think of any resume builder as a project. If I turn it into a goal I get all stressed out. A project is a fun experiment that I can try for a month and see how it helps my career. If it doesn’t I try a different project.

Can you create a project on the weekends that will help you add skills to your career?

It’s easier to coast along in your career and complain about how it’s not fun or what you want to be doing.  If you want your career to bring you more happiness, you have to think about it and “own” it. Yes, it does take time, but could be very attainable in as little time as the next 30 days with a special guide I’ve developed.

And I’m not talking about big strides to attaining career happiness. It’s about little steps that get you closer to happiness on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis.

It starts with figuring out and then following your passions, and then mixing in your strengths and allowing yourself to let go of expectations and just get in “the zone”…that special place of focus where time doesn’t exist. This is the core process that will help you “unlock your career happiness” because it starts with your core needs.

You never know what is possible in your life until you start working on or for something you truly care about. Learn how to unlock your own career happiness with a little help from my guide coming out very soon.

At least, that is my belief. Have you seen the same opportunities happen because you’ve put focused energy into a new project that you cared about?

Do You Have a Job or a Career?

Do what you love

It’s a simple question that most of my coaching clients get as soon as I ask it.

Most of the time, they answer right away.

The subtle difference between a job and a career is that a job is something you do for the money, and a career is work you do because you care about the results.

A career helps you become a better person and help people you care about.

For most of my life, I was stuck in a job. This changed in 2011 when I was laid off.

“You can fail at something you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance doing what you love.” – Jim Carrey

I know no career is perfect. Most careers have moments of desperation in them. Moments when you feel like throwing in the towel – usually right before you make a connection with someone who believes in you.

The difference between doing work you love and doing work that you don’t love is that work you love is helping people and/or causes that you care about.

That’s the start of it all.  Or at least it was for me when I started Work Happy Now and then my second business Domino Connections.

Your Turn

Please share…Who do you enjoy helping and why do you want to help them? (Let us know in the comment section)

If you aren’t sure who you enjoy helping then try out my free Unlock Your Passions ecourse. Check out what you get and how it can help you work happier. It will arrive in your inbox every couple days to help give you a happiness boost.

Our Choices Add Up

Each choice matters

Bad choices will be made, we can’t stop this, but it’s how we learn and improve our decision making skills that help us create a career we love and grows with us. Each choice you make either builds your happiness or subtracts from it.

Last year I had to choose between two events that I wanted to go to that I thought could help me. I chose one over the other because it was a bit easier to get to and I thought the event was a higher quality group of people. Bad choice.

Understanding what bothers you is just as important as understanding what excites you.” – Chris Guillebeau

I paid for flight, hotel, food, and I basically flushed my money down the toilet. The event was terrible. It was filled with people that weren’t my target market. I ended up just chalking it up as a loss.

Of course it wasn’t a total loss because the adventure was fun. I met a kind man in a store as I was looking for a gift for my son. He walked me around the store, helping me find the perfect gift. After I was done I told him I wanted to check out. I expected him to walk up to the register and help me cash out. He told me that he was just browsing and frequents the store for his grandson.

He just helped out of the goodness of his heart.

Your Best Guess

I made the best guess of which conference to attend with the information I had at the time. I weighed out my decision and tried my best to be smart about my choice.

We are faced with these choices in our career and sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t It’s the fact of your career and life. You can’t be perfect in every choice, but you can grow with each experience.

I got an amazing story out of the experience. That in itself made the trip worth my time and money.

How About You?

What bad career choice had a silver lining for you? happiness of pursuit book giveaway* The person who leaves the best answer in the comment section will have a chance to win a hardback copy of Chris Guillebeau’s new book “The Happiness of Pursuit.” (Aff. Link) I’ll mail the book with my own money if the winner is in the USA. If you are outside the states then we’ll have to figure out plan B (either give it to the next best entry or pay for the extra shipping to your country).

Use This One Thing to Boost Your Motivation

Be playful in your work

Yesterday I was struggling to get my “happy plane” off the ground to do some writing, but I just couldn’t get my mindset into a creative mood.

I knew what I wanted to write, but the sentences were clumsy. Then I did what any smart creative person does…

I picked up one of my super rubber duckies and just looked at it and squeezed it.

I give presentations and throw these superhero duckies out into the crowd to help remind people that they have superpowers. Funny how I forget the simple reminders that I know are useful to my clients.

Toys can have a calming effect on even the grumpiest adults.

More Fun

I said to myself, “Why not have a little more fun with your work?”

Then I picked up my Spiderman golf putter that my brother gave me for Christmas, grabbed a golf ball, dropped it on my carpet, picked a little opening between the wall and the couch, and hit the ball toward the opening. Another smile came over me.

After sixteen tries, I got the ball in the opening, and I smiled for the third time.

Then a thought of what I wanted to say in my blog post popped into my head. I put my putter aside and the writing started to come a little easier.

And I remembered that being playful in my work truly does matter in order for me to be creative. Taking a break can be more productive than going through the motions, and that rubber duckies and indoor golf can actually help me regain focus, clarity and forward momentum.

Although hugs, handshakes, high fives, and other experiences that bring us in contact with other people can motivate us to maintain forward momentum, we can also choose a physical object to remind us to be playful or to refocus when we’re stuck and no one else is around. Think of it as an emotional trigger to bring a little happiness back into your workday.

Step 1Find your motivation object.

Look around your workspace and see if you notice an object that you might not have been aware of before that helps quiet your thoughts..

It could be a…

  1. Photo of a loved one
  2. Action figure
  3. Coin
  4. Stress ball
  5. Letter
  6. Golf putter
  7. Feather

The key here is to use this object to trigger the next step.

Step 2Use a phrase to help you relax and shift the focus of your thoughts.

If you noticed in the example above, I used a phrase that helps me let go of my stress and helps me focus on what I want to happen next.

I said to myself, “Why not have a little more fun with my work?”

I don’t force it, and you shouldn’t either.

And don’t just repeat your phrase once and try to get right back to work.

Use your phrase and allow yourself the time and emotional space to take a break and then start to get your mindset back on track.

Step 3Bring yourself back to taking action.

When you try to get yourself back on track, think of one thing you can do to improve your motivation, and then think of the next little step to make that a reality, so you can start taking action again, but this time in a little more focused direction.

In my case, I wanted to do some writing. So I gave myself the space to allow the creativity back into my mind by being playful.

You shouldn’t force the issue of what you want your mind and body to do next. Just plant the seed and allow yourself to relax. Then let your brain and body do what it wants to do naturally.

Quick Tip

I suggest not to make your motivation object anything like your phone because it can be more of a distraction than a object to help you get back on track. You don’t want to get lost in a game and lose our on valuable work time if you can get your motivation back on track in 10 or 20 minutes.

The same thing goes for food. You don’t probably don’t want to rely on a donut every time you need an motivation boost.

Your Turn

How do you get your motivation back on track when you

Are You Scared to Make Your Next Career Move?

is it five yet

What did that little voice inside you say as you read the headline?

“I’m not afraid! I’ll read it.”

“I’m scared, but maybe this article will help.”

“That’s the stupidest headline line I’ve ever read, but I have to read it.”

The inner dialog that goes on in our head is responsible for 80% of our happiness. If it’s positive you are usually happy. If it’s not you are usually unhappy.

Pretty simple to understand, but hard to actually do.

I like to call this little negative inner voice in my head my inner arch nemesis. We can be are our own worst enemies, or our best advocates.

I recently talked to an author who linked to me on the Forbes website. We had a nice chat and offered to do an honest review of each other’s books on Amazon. I sent her mine with the caveat that it isn’t designed that well and her reply back was…

Dude, why did you couch your book on the phone as “just something you wrote in the past but my manifesto is better”?? It’s flipping great! I mean it. I really really loved it. Review is up!!!

I didn’t mean to put down my book. It’s just that it’s not as designed as well as I would like. The content is solid, but it could use some images and better transitions.

The thing is, nothing is perfect. My career, my book, and my cooking skills could all be improved.

You see my point. We can be our own worst enemies. Sometimes it’s not even conscious. I put a lot of hard work into my book. Two editors looked threw it twice, a dozen read throughs and edits by me, hours of layout and it’s still could be improved. My book might not be perfect, but I’m proud of it. The reviews have been good and I know it has helped a lot of people.

It’s why I work with mentors, coaches, and therapists who can help me in my business and life. They’ve been invaluable to my success. It’s why I also practice active relaxation and meditation. I’m training myself to be more aware of the thoughts I choose, so I choose more encouraging thoughts that support my goals instead of feed my fears.

What do you do to let go of your fear and take a career gamble that could make you happier?

Master Your Career Superpowers

happier at work

You never have to worry about your career if you are using your superpowers.

You create more negotiating leverage when you are doing great work. It’s hard to deny a raise to someone who find creative solutions to problems. It’s hard to deny a promotion to someone who’s excitement is contagious. It’s easy to find help when you are so helpful.

When you are happier you get more done.

The key is to unlock those superpowers, so you can get more leverage in your career.

I had a conversation with a client about her superpowers. She had a little trouble wrapping her mind around the idea of having superpowers.

We chatted about what it means to have superpowers. I asked her if Warren Buffett had superpowers. She agreed. He was able to find gaps in the market that other people didn’t see to earn a lot of money. Now he is using his money to help people in need.

Then she said, “Ahhh. I really do see. It’s how I help people.”

“Yes!”

That’s it. We are all here, on this earth, to help each other. Whether we make people laugh when they need it the most or help them file their taxes so they don’t get audited. This is what makes up our superpowers.

This breakthrough for her opened up the whole idea of superpowers for her.

That’s why I became a Superpower Coach (fun way to say career coach). I wanted to help people become happier and do great work.

Am I a perfect coach?

Nope, but I get great results and I love what I do.

Have you ever hired a coach before?

I’m curious… most people I meet have not. I’m curious to why. All great athletes and even some average ones hire coaches to get better. They’ll hire a tennis coach to improve their serve or a golf coach to improve their swing, but not a career coach. It’s interesting, don’t you think?

A career coach can help you make more money, feel happier, and do better work.

Do you think it’s easier to measure physical improvements vs mental improvements?

Let’s discuss in the comment section or on Work Happy Now Facebook Page.

10 Choices That Will Make Your Career More Successful

happiness quote

If only I would have…

This phrase is one of the most depressing phrases anyone can use in their career.

Depending how long you’ve been in your current career, you’ll notice the small regrets and missed opportunities adding up.

I say this because I’m living proof that it’s true. It’s usually never just one thing that I’ve passed up, it’s been the little daily choices where I’ve dropped the ball.

Here are ten choices that can prevent regret and create a better career and life.

1. Embrace challenging work.

A career without challenges is just a boring career that isn’t worth talking about. It’s a job that helps you pay the bills. You have a daily choice to seek challenging work that will grow your career superpowers or hide from it.

When you are willing to say, “Yes!” to challenging work then you are stretching yourself outside your comfort zone to a place that will open up new doors internally and externally. Internally, you’ll find that a different type of work will help you unleash your superpowers. Externally, you’ll find people seeking out your help because you aren’t afraid to tackle a new project.

You don’t need to be amazing at every new challenge. You just need to show you aren’t scared. People will be impressed by your willingness to grow.

2. Find your own definition of happiness.

Your happiness is very important to growing and enjoying your career. When you allow someone else to set the ceiling for your happiness, you’ve lost leverage and respect. To gain both back, you must look at what type of work makes you happy and make this a regular part of your day.

Even if it’s just 20 minutes, carve out time to do work that you are passionate about, work that gets you excited. Then start dedicating extra minutes to this type of work each day. When you show people the great results you are getting, I know they will want you to increase the time you spend on these type of projects.

3. Appreciate the people who’ve helped you.

Every career is built on advice, support, and love from others. You would never be where you are without these amazing people, from the co-worker that encouraged you to take the lead on a project to a boss that believed you had the potential to do even better work.

Go for a walk and think about the people who have helped you improve your career. It’s these people you should thank and make sure they know you appreciate them. This helps you because it brings more gratitude to your relationships and also reminds you that for every person who has helped you, there are people who need your help.

4. Introduce people who can help each other.

When you have a chance to introduce two people to each other so they can help each other, you are helping their careers. It’s this help that always comes back to you in some form or another.

Don’t let scarcity thinking hold you back from making these introductions. When you help other people, it will ultimately help you in today’s world that depends so much on networking.

5. Ask your co-workers how you can better help them.

A career is always a work in progress and sometimes we stall out because we burn out and/or we’ve lost interest in our work. This is natural and the ebb and flow of any good career. The best way to break out of a rut is to get feedback that challenges you to take action.

Next time a co-worker or boss asks for help, say yes and also try asking them for feedback. Show them that you are trying to improve on your results. Many people aren’t very good at giving constructive feedback, so help them along. Ask them good questions that make it easier for them. For example, “What could I have done better on project X?” or  “I felt a little awkward when I did XYZ, what do you think I could do to improve next time?”

The better the questions you ask, the easier it will be to obtain feedback that can help you improve and grow your career.

6. Share your gratitude with others.

“Thank you so much! I couldn’t have done this without you,” is one of my favorite phrases. It makes me feel like I’ve had 10 cups of coffee.

Gratitude is very important to making people feel happier. When you make people feel good, they will want to keep delivering great results for you.

Do you take the time to tell people how important they are to your projects? If not try to do this whenever you get great results from a co-worker, boss, or contractor. The key is to be authentic, so they truly feel the quality of your appreciation.

And instead of just saying thank you, insert more detail. For example, you could say “Thank you so much for all your hard work. When I saw the quality of the graphs you made, I knew that you really thought about the best way to present the information to the client.

The more detail the better. They will feel seen and appreciated.

7. Plan your projects.

You are busy. I get it. The thing is a little planning can actually save you time. You are more focused on getting the results that will help you and your company.

Look at the last project you worked on, where did things get dropped? Could this have been avoided? Probably some or even a lot of them.

Next time, try thinking about your most important goal for the project first and then work backwards. Look at how you can chunk down this big goal into little goals so the project doesn’t feel so overwhelming. Then when you have a smaller goal, you can tackle this goal before you move on to the next phase. You’ll get better results and you’ll feel less stressed.

8. Refrain from complaining.

Ahh, a complaining session can just seem to pop up spontaneously. And I admit it can feel good to complain, but what good does it do in the long run? It can really hurt your morale and that of the people around you.

Next time you happen to get caught in a spontaneous complaining meeting, try listening and asking questions. Let’s say someone complains about a co-worker. Oh, I know this doesn’t happen at your company, but bear with me.

Next time someone complains about a co-worker try this:

“Yeah, that is frustrating. What do you think they could have done differently?”

Hopefully they will feel like joining in on your little game and they say something like, “Tom could have just emailed us an agenda before we sat in the meeting for two hours talking in circles.” Then you say something like, “That’s a great idea. “How do you think we could get him to do that next time?”

Now if they just throw their arms in the air and decide to give up, you probably aren’t going to be able to help them. At least they felt heard. If they come up with a good idea, you can help them implement it.

Great questions help dig to the root of the problem. Once you understand the problem, it’s time for a little change in behavior to see if you can get the problem solved.

9. Trust others to do their job well.

As a manager of people, I know how hard it is not to micro-manage people. You have a vision in your head and want it executed well. But if we don’t allow other people to unlock their own superpowers, then they won’t feel fulfilled by the work they do, and this will cause them to lose interest in their work. And we all know that’s a bad thing.

You need engaged people who want great results. The best way to do this is to trust that they want to do great work. If they continually fall short of your expectations, then you should either coach and train them to meet your expectations, look for a different position that actually fits their talents, or let  them go so they can find a better fit for their superpowers

Making your expectations clear is the most important part of this process. When people know what is expected of them, they can do their best to meet or even exceed those expectations.

10. Make time for projects you care about.

You can’t always do work you love, but you can find time each day to do work that you are passionate about. Even if it’s just 30 minutes, it’s important to help keep that fire burning inside of you.

Set time aside to do the type of projects that energize you. Look at what projects you are currently working on and whether they excite you at all. If not, what projects have you done in the past that got your juices going?

Can you create a similar project that excites you and find time every day to move this project forward? If you need approval from your boss, then put a compelling plan together that they can’t say no to. If they say no, then try a different angle. If they keep saying no, then it might be time to find another job that is willing to appreciate your desire to do great work on what you’re passionate about.

Your Turn

What career choices have you made that were difficult at the time, but helped you grow your career?

How Do You Want to Feel in Your Career?

Desires Create Life

You deserve happiness. You deserve to get excited about your career.

But most people are unhappy in their current career, and over 80% of people are currently looking for a new job.

I was unhappy for the last 4 years at one of my jobs. 4 YEARS! The first year was fun then the next 2 years were just ok. Then I just stopped trying after the 3rd year. I coated for the last 4 years, really disliking most of my time there. I would go into different co-workers offices and just chat for 30 minutes at a time. I didn’t see the point to working hard. Other people would literally take naps at their desk. It was such a toxic environment.

Instead of looking at what would make me happy, I compared my situation to the people that I was surrounded by.

BIG mistake!

I stopped looking at how I wanted to feel at the end of the day and work toward those feelings. I stopped trying to make myself feel energized and took the easy way out.

So, how do you currently feel when you are working?

  • Tired
  • Bored
  • Relaxed
  • Challenged
  • Excited

If the first feeling or memory that pops in your mind when you answer that question is negative, then your career isn’t adding to your happiness.

Your passion for your work dictates your success.

If all you are doing is working for money, then your actions will reflect your results.

Money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s only a tool.

Would you mind giving me five minutes of your time? I put together a quick survey to learn more about you and how I can help you grow your career. Click here to fill it out. Thank you in advance.

Once you choose work by how you feel and not for just for the external reward, then you will develop a career that takes you to great places physically and emotionally.

Now of course, we must connect to the external world in some way. We can’t work in a bubble.

You can’t expect to create a project that you would love to work on and your boss will love it and give you carte blanche to do whatever and however you want. You can’t expect to be able to write a novel, then have a publisher waltz into your house, print it out, read it, love it, and publish it to global honors.

You have to find that sweet spot.

passions-others-desires

As we talked about earlier, there is work involved.

That’s where “your why” behind your actions, focus and strengths come in. You focus on what will get you the best results and do work that delivers great results.

How do you want to feel while you work? Write down how you want to feel (happy, proud, excited, challenged, joyful, etc.).  Think of your top 5.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Your desires create your life.

When you have a better understanding of how you want to feel while you work, then you can begin to deconstruct your desires and create a career plan to get there.

This is where knowing yourself is so important. The best place to start is looking at how you want to feel as you do your work and how you want to feel at the end of each day.

Here are some examples with concrete emotions of how you might want to feel:

  • I want to get excited about the people I work with.
  • I want to feel energized by the people I’m able to help.
  • I want to be curious about my challenges instead of feeling tired by them.

See how this works?  These are positive emotions:

  • Excited
  • Energized
  • Challenged

Now that you know how you want to feel, you can take the next step and deconstruct how you are able to make these feelings a reality in your career.

Visualizing what actions will help you feel happier. For example if writing makes you feel energized then how do you think you could incorporate more writing into your career?

Could you write your company’s newsletter? Could you create your own project that would help the company and create a role that requires you to write more? Could you create a side project to help you connect with other writers?

Which one excites you the most?

Write down 5 small projects you could create at work to help you tap into each of the feelings that you wrote above

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

When you know how you want to feel then you can look at what actions make you feel this way. Then it’s developing a plan that you can act on to make these feelings occur on a daily basis.

What actions cause these feelings?

This article is a part of the Unlock Your Passions email course that you can get access to by joining our community and getting free career boosting updates.

You Have to “Own Your Desires” Before You Can be Happy

Puppy with vision

I was doing the grocery shopping for the family this past week and I overheard a beautiful older woman chatting with the woman cashier. The older woman had bought a new dress and the cashier complimented her on it. The older lady replied that the cashier would look beautiful in a similar dress, and that they even had her size – small.

To my surprise, the cashier didn’t want to hear any of it. She dismissed the whole idea and refused to take the compliment. I could see that her desire to be beautiful was strong. She briefly smiled before dismissing this lady’s compliment.

Have you ever done anything like that?

You may…

  • be in debt
  • feel overweight
  • have a big mole on your cheek
  • be bald
  • laugh at inappropriate times
  • have a stutter

and none of it really matters.

I say this because I’ve been afraid of letting the real me out. As kids we don’t care what anyone else thinks of us. What matters is to have fun.

Then we become teenagers.  We try to fit in. We want to be accepted.

What we lose is self-acceptance for who and what we are. This is one of the greatest tragedies in present day society. Yes, you need positive relationships and projects that excite you, but you will never truly be happy anywhere if you don’t own and accept your own desires.

A Story

I tested this theory out with my co-workers at my previous job. I had been afraid to relax with who I am around them. Finally I stopped worrying about whether what I thought was funny would amuse them and just blurted some jokes out.

The response was mixed. Sometimes I got a laugh and other times I was laughed at.

My joke about Shaquill O’Neil’s (former NBA player) big butt pushing everyone out of the way when he is near the basket didn’t go over that well.  I guess straight guys don’t like hearing about other dudes’ butts. :)

But it was ok. I felt better that I was just letting my true self come out rather than trying to control what people thought of me. No one can control how other people feel about us, the only thing we can do is be who we are and hope other people find a way to enjoy it.

5 Ways to Start Owning Your Desires and Enjoying Yourself

You don’t have to try hard to make your desires a reality. You just have to be willing to fail, get back up and try again.

It all starts with believing you deserve to be happy.

1. Laugh at Your Mistakes

Your mistakes can be embarrassing or a way to connect with others. I truly believe that the people who take themselves too seriously are the people who have trouble dealing with stress and finding enjoyment. They are attached to how they want people to view them.

The idea is simple, but very difficult to implement because of our ego. When we make mistakes, we usually feel the need to protect ourselves from looking stupid. We make excuses, try to hide our mistakes, and wish that the embarrassing situation never happened.

Next time you make a mistake, try laughing with yourself. Don’t point to any outside influence as a crutch. Try to enjoy the fact that you were able to make such a mistake.  It means you’re human.

I accidentally used the word crotch instead of couch in a recent email to a coworker. I noticed it immediately after I sent it, and I felt the embarrassment rising within me. Instead of letting this feeling take over, I laughed. The tension released and I made a joke to add on top of it. Something about needing to sit on a psychologist’s couch, not crotch, to get help with my dyslexia.

We both laughed about my slip up and it was easily excused.

2. Allow Your Weirdness to Shine

Most people will shun you at first for being weird, but over time the weirdness is what people learn to like about you. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m weird.

Heck, all of of us are weird. Even the normal ones are weird because they are usually normal to the point that they are so boring you wonder what their definition of fun is.

I’ll do squats in the bathroom or push-ups in the parking lot if it makes me feel good. Pretend to be a dinosaur in the grocery store. Share my fascination of praying mantises, dung beetles and sex.

I still struggle to own many of my desires, but the more I practice the better I get.

When you stop being afraid of what people think of you, that’s when you can have creative interactions that make you feel good.

Your desire to be accepted is probably very strong. I know mine is, but it’s not the acceptance from other people that you crave, but the validation from other people that you are worthy of their love.

3. Reflect on What Makes You Happy

People who worry feel sad because they stay connected to the thoughts that bring these feelings on. The people who take the time to reflect on what makes them happy are setting their mind into positive motion. They keep on connecting the dots toward a more positive outlook and become happier thought by thought.

I was a worry-o-holic. I thought that the more I worried the more I could out-think my troubles. Wow, was I wrong.

Shifting my perspective to reflect on what makes me happy is one of the most basic fundamentals to my happiness.

Focus + Positive = Happiness

But you can’t fake this. You have to truly believe your positive thoughts.

You can build slowly. For example, take the time to be grateful for 3 good things that happened at the end of each day and find one reason to appreciate the present moment.

If you practice this every single day, you will slowly shift your mind from constantly worrying to always finding the good in your day and the joy in the moment.

4. Imagine Yourself Being Loved for All Your Quirks

Michael Jackson died several years ago. That man was probably the quirkiest celebrity on earth. Also loved by millions. Michael was never happy with who he was. He went under the knife way too many times, creating an external weirdness to match his internal feelings of himself.  What if he had loved himself as he was?

Do you love yourself as you are?  If you don’t, you could.  You can see every part of you as beautiful. You just need to practice.

To start with, list the things that make you stand out. Then list why someone might like those things about you. If you can’t see why someone might think you are beautiful or smart or kind or funny, then think of talking to your best friend or even someone like the Dali Lama. Imagine you are talking to this kind and gentle soul, and ask him to help you list good qualities about your external and internal traits.

You are a beautiful person inside and out. You just need to see yourself with compassion and love. Then let these emotions out and feel them for what they are, don’t hide from them.

5. Know that Only You Can Make Yourself Happy

True love starts within you. If a person can’t love themselves and the people in their lives, how can they expect anyone else to return those feelings?

Your view of yourself will determine how you view your life. And if you cultivate a loving mind, you will have loving relationships.

That means that you can’t expect your significant other to make you happy, nor your children, your job, or your friends. You need to own your happiness and find a way to make it a reality.

I used to pray for other people’s failure at past jobs because I thought it would make me look better. What an awful way that was to live.

Now I pray for other people’s success so their desires come true. Even if I don’t like them I smile at the initial thought of wanting to see them fail and remember that the more their desires become a reality the more they learn about themselves. A much more enjoyable thought process.

Putting It All Together

The goal is to own every quirk and desire within yourself. I promise that once you get started, you will be more relaxed and able to enjoy your life.

You have the ability, and you don’t need to become vain in the process. Vanity is ego that isn’t grounded.

You can have a balanced ego that fills you with confidence. All you need to do is start practicing the ideas in this post and tweak them to fit your needs.

Happiness comes from within. Own your desire to create happiness and happiness will follow close behind.

So I suggest that the next time someone compliments you, you say thank you and take it in and enjoy it, and reflect on your desire to be smart and beautiful. And in fact, I’m wondering if there are ways to enjoy your ability to connect with your positive desires.

Do you want a raise? Do you want to add a new friend? Do you want work that creates a bigger impact in other people’s lives?

How could you let your desires create more happiness?

* Need help unlocking your desires to bring more career happiness into your life? Then let’s set up a time for a discovery chat.

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