Stretch Your Career

Group Stretch

One of the most important aspects of a career that makes you happy is…

Growth

When you see personal and professional growth you have a deeper understanding of your purpose.

You see what you were able to accomplish and how it helped.

I recently had the privilege to talk with Barbara Mistick for my Domino Experience podcast. Barbara is the President of Wilson College. A seasoned veteran of teaching young people to do work that they care about.

Barbara Mistick

One of my favorite stories is how one student almost dropped out until she understand one important fact about college.

We also covered these topics:

  • The importance of happiness at work.
  • Taking responsibility for your own career.
  • Carving out time to learn something new to grow your career.
  • Expanding in the fear. (Where the biggest growth happens)
  • Be prepared when the unexpected happens.
  • Learning a living.
  • What you can learn from a bad boss.

Biggest Takeaway

Think about 5 people that you know that have helped you grow personally or professionally over this past 12 months. Go and reach out to them. See if you can help them in some way.

Relationships do matter. The more you work at building stronger relationships the more you will be able to grow your career.

Listen to the podcast here:

You can subscribe via iTunes to the Domino Experience podcast that shares stories about building better business relationships for entrepreneurs here. If you liked the interview please give us a review on iTunes. The more people that know about this podcast the more people we can help.

If you thought the book could help your career then you can buy the book on Amazon (this is an affiliate link and will help me buy a cup of coffee).

As always if you have any questions just let me know.

Thanks!

How to Start a Powerful Mentorship Program

smiling with a friend

Do you feel your company could improve communication and do a better job of creating better relationships at work? Try creating a mentorship program. It’s a way to get people who normally wouldn’t meet together.

You can do this on your own (find another person to mentor or mentee), try starting with a small group of employees, or make it a company wide program.

Mentorships also help encourage a cross pollination of ideas by getting people who wouldn’t normally talk let alone meet to share ideas. This is a great start to improving creative problem solving.

Step by Step Process

Gather everyone in a room. Ask anyone who doesn’t want to participate and let them know it’s ok. Everyone else who is interested, have everyone write their name on a piece of paper. Then put people’s names in hat. Make sure to pair people who were unable to come if they wanted to join in. Each pairing must be random to help people who don’t know each other that well to connect. Have the pairs of employees get together and ask themselves the first session questions.

At the end of each session have them set-up next week’s call for 30 minutes. They will set-up meetings each week in person or over the phone until the end of the month. Each person will be given 15 minutes to talk at each session. They must bring a goal/project that they are working on and could use guidance to improve the results. You should encourage people to create a project instead of a goal. It becomes more of an adventure instead of something they have to reach. You’ll want them to focus on building a great relationship with someone within the company, not worry about now reaching their goal and feeling like a failure.

The first session is a discovery session for them to build a rapport with each other. The 2nd through 4th session is meant to help them support each other’s progress.

Virtual Version

Split people into groups 10 – 20, depending on the capacity of the video conferencing software that you use. Put everyone’s name in excel sheet, write the numbers on a blank sheet so everyone can see the numbers when you hold it up to the video camera. Then have people pick number and match them up with number that they pick. Just cross off the numbers that have been picked, so people know which numbers not to pick.

Questions to ask each other: (first session)

  1. What piece of advice has been most important to growing your career?
  2. What are your top 3 favorite movies?
  3. What skill do you wish you had?
  4. Who do you look up to as you started your career? How about now?
  5. How can I help you accomplish your goal/project by the end of the month?

Questions to ask in mentorship sessions 2-4:

  1. What is going well with your goal/project?
  2. What can be improved?

Review Questions:

  1. How did people respond to mentorship program? (Did they like the results? Were they engaged?)
  2. What could be improved about the program when you run it again?
  3. Do you think it helped the team build stronger relationships?
  4. What were the benefits that you noticed to running this program?

The idea is to create lasting relationships that help people grow their careers and allow them to see that your company cares about their career growth.

* Do you have any questions about bringing more happiness to your workplace? Then let’s talk about different tools you can use at work.

How to Make Next Year the Best Year Yet

smiling at conference

The vision of a new job dances in your head has you lay down to sleep. You want to make this year the best year yet. You are off to a good start by knowing what you want out of life.

You think about what it’s like to have a boss that listens and cares.

Co-workers that like your ideas and want to support you.

Your family appreciating all your hard work to help support the family.

Then the dream fades away and you think about all the things that are a struggle at work and how it makes your home life just that much harder.

I’ve been there.

Let me tell you a story.

Does your organization need help improving communication, feeling grateful, or creating a happiness plan? Then let’s chat! Then fill out the short form at the bottom and we’ll see how more happiness can help your organization.

Every Day

I believe in prayer. I pray every day.

It’s a great way to get in touch with your true desires.

I made a big switch a few years ago and it’s made all the difference in my happiness.

A few years ago I was stuck in a dead-end job.

The CEO didn’t like me.

I was in the wrong department for my skills and I didn’t feel like I had any options. I remember it like it was yesterday.

I kneeled at my bed clasped my hands and prayed for a better job.

Guess what happened.

Nothing.

I was still stuck at my job.

Then I read an article  (I couldn’t find the one I read, but this one is similar) about the importance of gratitude . So instead of wanting my career to be different I started praying out my gratitude. I stopped asking for things and used prayer to feel grateful.

I became happier within a couple days.

Gratitude Journal

Gratitude Journal

I started to keep a gratitude journal to help me keep track of my thankfulness.

Then the big switch happened.

I became grateful for what I as able to do in the present moment. I began to focus on doing things to grow my career. I could improve my resume. I could take on a challenging project. I wrote an article for our company newsletter.

I used my strengths to help others. I helped someone with their resume. I helped co-workers when I wasn’t busy.

I used my passions to do things I truly loved to do. I got back into writing. I wrote more blog articles. I coached people to help them in their careers.

I focused on little actions that helped me build toward goals. Instead of just praying for what I wanted I became clear on how to make it happen.

What are you doing to make this coming year the best year ever?

* Does your department need help improving how they create goals at work? Goals that inspire and motivate instead of creating procrastination. Just reach out to me and we’ll set-up a chat to talk about you and your your team.

Thank you for this wonderful year

I just want to take a moment to thank you for being a part of the Work Happy Now community. It means so much that you read the articles, share them with friends, and comment with new ideas.

I’m grateful for all the time you spent trying to make your career happier.

If every one of you can make your career just 10% better this coming year then I will feel fulfilled. It’s this 10% that becomes 20% the next year.

Every year is a chance to grow and do more fulfilling work. If I can play a small role in helping you do this then that’s awesome.

Good luck in 2016 and if I can be of help just let me know.

I’m focusing on doing more speaking to organizations to help them improve communication, feel more grateful, and create happiness plans (personal and for teams). If you know anyone who needs a dynamic speaker for 2016. My prices are reasonable and it’s a great experience for everyone.

How to Get Better Feedback at Work

Get More Feedback

You walk down the hallway back to your desk, feeling a little bit tired. You’re about to make the turn, but instead you go straight and you end up in your boss’s office.

You ask him, “Do you have a minute?”

He says yes and you sit down. He is probably thinking. Here it comes…

Let the complaining begin.

Instead you say…

I just have a quick question.

What is one thing I could do to improve on my work?

He’s stunned. Doesn’t know what to say.

Do you want better feedback from your employees? Let’s have a chat about getting feedback that helps you improve your business. Click here to set up a consultation.

Better Feedback

I’ve been helping companies get better feedback from their customers and employees since 2010, but rarely do we ask for feedback from people in our day to day lives.

I thought about the feedback that I give myself. My inner critic is always giving me feedback, but I realized that I was asking the wrong type of questions.

I recently messed up the timezones and showed up to a phone meeting with a potential client an hour late. Of course he wasn’t on the line. I remember asking myself why did I think I could start my own business. Who would hire such an idiot like me?

Really bad questions.

I let this stomp through my mind as I fell asleep.

Now I look back on this old self and smile. What a dummy I was to hate on myself so much.

Quality Questions

Good questions are the key to better feedback.

I started improving on how I reflected on my day. I decided to use the same system I have my clients get back from their customers and employees. I rated my day on a scale of 0 – 10. 0 being lousy and 10 being amazing. I began to keep track of how I felt and where I could improve.

Then I asked myself 3 questions:

1. What went well?
2. What could I have done better?
3. What is one thing about my day that I want to remember? (my daily story)

A much more balanced approach to reviewing my day. I focused on the positives, improvements for growth, and savoring the day that I had.

My happiness went from a 7 to a 9. Improving how I reviewed my day made a huge difference.

I savored my day so much more by remembering the good things that happened to me.

Asking people in your life better questions to improve your relationships is just as important.

Learning from My Son

I recently asked my 6 year old son what I could do better as a dad.

He said:

“Play more legos with me.”

I smiled and said, “I can do that.”

That was it. And that’s what I did.

Sometimes the feedback can be painful, but it’s better to get it out in the open instead of hiding from it.

I had some really rough feedback from a recent book review:

“The most boring book I’ve ever read.” Amy M.

My heart sank when I read her feedback, so I emailed her. She replied back apologizing for that the book didn’t deliver what she wanted from it. She actually didn’t think the book was that boring, it just reminded her of how she felt stuck in her life.

Her feedback gave me a chance to connect with someone. She turned into a supporter after our email exchange.

If I would have dismissed her feedback I would never have turned a hater into a supporter.

I’ve asked my son…What do I do well as a father?

“You play on the floor with me.”

Now I know that’s one of his favorite things to do and can do more of it.

On one day my son held his hands over his ears as I was lecturing him. At first I got mad then I realized he was just giving me feedback to be a better parent.

So I asked him what he could do to help me realize that I was lecturing too much. He thought for a second and he came up with a sign that didn’t make me feel as bad. He lifted up his hands up to his face and began wiggling his fingers around.

He made them dance in the air.

I laughed.

Now he uses his wiggling fingers as his signal to me that I’m lecturing too much.

The Importance of Showing You Care

Good feedback shows you care about your relationships. Good feedback also builds confidence. The more you learn about who you are the more you can grow.

The hardest part about listening to feedback is being open to all sides. Sometimes to get to the good you have to wade through the bad. It’s the domino effect of feedback. The better you are at asking good questions and listen to the feedback the more each conversation tips toward a happier life.

That’s why the ability to reframe feedback is so important. People give feedback intentionally and unintentionally every single day. Try not to judge the feedback. Use each response as a chance for growth instead of a chance to beat yourself up.

Look at how you get feedback from coworkers, employees, and your family. Are you showing them that you are listening to their problem and their ideas?

When you listen to the people in your life and willing to incorporate their ideas into your life you are open to growth. You’ll learn more about yourself, your boss, and your family. It’s this growth that will help you grow with the people around you. As you probably know, it’s seeing progress at work that makes us happy.

Don’t expect to take action on everyone’s feedback, but always be willing to listen.

Next time you finish a project ask your boss or the leader of the project:

What is one thing I could do to improve on my performance?

Watch what happens.

It’s magical.

How to Stop Worrying About Mistakes at Work

worried-man-talking-cell-595

I’m standing next to a powerful woman at this networking event. She introduces my friend and I to her friend.

There is a slightly longer than usual pause and I rush to fill the empty space.

“Oh and this is my friend Alfred.”

“We already met,” Alfred says.

“Oh, I’m sorry. You knew each other already.”

“No. Mary just introduced us.”

Another awkward pause and I say.

“I’m sorry.” I flush red.  “Wow. I have a 10 month old at home and my brain just isn’t working well today,” 

They rush to fill the empty space and Mary says she has a 11 month old at home.

So the conversation steers in that direction.

Do you want do work you truly care about? You have to start by building a resume that draws people to you.  Click here to check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide. You’ll find out the 7 most important steps to doing work you love.

Compassion

The whole drive home I replay my stupidity over and over.

I can’t believe I totally spaced out and didn’t notice that my friend was also introduced to this guy. It didn’t even register.

I was tired and I was nervous, but still it’s no excuse. I should have been paying attention.

Then I woke up in the middle of the night.

What a jackass I was, I thought to myself.

Then I thought about what this meant for myself in the bigger picture. Does this affect my career?

Not much.

Even it if did I can recover. I’ve recovered from stupid mistakes before.

Perspective

It would have helped to be much more suave, but in the grand scheme of things I still had great clients, a loving family, and food in my fridge.

I screwed up, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

Nothing we go through is the end of the world.

Unless it really is the end of the world. And if that happens, nothing else matters.

I should be more concerned with the state of our oceans more then looking like a douche bag to a powerful woman in my city that could help my business.

Positivity

I thought about 5 good things in my life:

1. My wife

2. My sons

3. Turkey sandwiches

4. Cold glass of water with a dash of cranberry juice.

5. My soft pillow

I decided to just laugh at my nerdiness. I get nervous in front of others. It’s actually very interesting to see myself flub over something like that situation.

I can give a presentation to 200 people without too much difficulty, but I can’t stay focused long enough around an important person to avoid looking like an idiot.

You may notice I’m calling myself names throughout, but I do it to show you that I’ve stopped taking myself so seriously. We all make mistakes, but it’s all about accessing them and letting them go.

Move on so you can get back to doing great stuff.

3 Unique Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills at Work

meeting-group-communication

I am severely hearing impaired and it was not detected until I was 12 years old.

So what do I know about communication and how can it help you get the most from your workday?

Finding ways to communicate well was a daily challenge.

I learned to read lips so well that I had deceived the education system, my teachers my parents and myself. I learned at an early age to it was important to get information and process it in order to get ahead and do well.

Once my disability was diagnosed it changed things for me. I then had to make others aware that I was hearing impaired and that they had to play a part in my getting the information I needed. In order to get the message across to others I had to relay to them what it was like to be hearing impaired. I had to show them different ways they could best help me in various situations.

I learned a lot about communication that I can share with you. Information needs to be handled carefully for everyone not just hearing impaired people. Its a very essential part of any experience and the more you know about it the more power you can wield and the more satisfaction you get from your job. Let me illustrate.

Do you want do work you truly care about? You have to start by building a resume that draws people to you.  Click here to check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide. You’ll find out the 7 most important steps to doing work you love.

1. Present Ideas in More than One Way

One of the very important points to communication with a hearing impaired person is to say one sentence in different ways. Sometimes due to background noise or the acoustics of the area a word or words is not recognizable.

So speaking the idea in different ways can help to get the idea across very quickly. Let’s say you are a nurse…a good example would be to ask: “Did you take your medication today?

Another word for medication is pills “Did you take your pills today? or name the medication and ask the question. By asking the question in different ways a word will sound familiar and the subject matter can be identified. This also helps when addressing hearing people as well.

You can also present an idea in different ways that makes it easier to people to understand and remember what you said. An example would be to highlight the positive aspects of a business proposal. This is very effective as the point is taken and the receiver can address the issue with confidence.

2. Be Sensitive to Learning Styles

In the education system we present material in different ways to ensure all learning styles are covered. Some people receive material best when they can see it, some when they hear it, and some when they experience it.

You can write the information, verbalize it and summarize it in a Post-it note. This is effective because it covers all the possible learning styles to ensure proper transfer of the information. It also allows for clarification by asking questions. You can ensure all information has been received by double-checking at the end of the day.

In my job as a Dental Hygienist… It can sometimes be very noisy and busy. So to ensure referrals and other important client details have been addressed I will go back and look through my notes again to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

3. Listen with Intent

I love my career choice as a Dental Hygienist. The satisfaction comes from listening to my clients with a clear mind as they update me since their last visit.

Make people feel they are important to you by listening carefully to their updates. Let your co workers/clients know you heard them by addressing their concerns or questions. Rephrase what you have heard. This is a very powerful tactic in communication because people like being around people who are good listeners.

Being fully present as you listen to someone isn’t easy, but a worthwhile skill to improve your relationships at work and at home.

Let’s Review

I know you will get more from your workday with these easy communication ideas. Managers, leaders and coworkers will see you as trustworthy and competent as you put these ideas into practice.

Be thorough in your explanations taking into account various personalities and work styles. Be sensitive to how people process information and you will cover all the angles to ensure others understand you. Finally listen with intent and you too will learn from others thus creating more satisfaction from your workday.

How do you handle communication in your work setting so everything is clear and easy to understand? I would love to learn from you.

Author bio: Jeanie Bavis believes that when we get a glimpse of our power we should be compelled to share it with others. You can read and learn more over at Self-Improvement Design to explore her perspective. You can also find her on Facebook page and Twitter handle @lifeaidecoach.

What to Do When You Hate Your Job

Smiling at work

Hating your job isn’t particularly uncommon. In fact, a Gallup study found that around 70% of workers find themselves “disengaged” from their job. Doing the same things day after day, while feeling you’re hardly making a difference in the world, can certainly contribute to a feeling of disengagement in the workplace.

I was once that disengaged employee who hated my job. I dreaded getting up in the morning, and every minute spent at work felt like the clock was ticking by – way too slowly – until I could finally clock out and head home. Sometimes I’d hide in the bathroom for a few minutes, just to get away from my desk.

I was miserable. Lucky for me, I wasn’t trapped. That dreadful job was just for the summer, and I was lucky enough to go back to school at the end of the season.

Unfortunately, many of those who don’t enjoy their job can’t simply get up and leave. Many factors — from a steady paycheck to a feeling of security — make it nonsensical for workers to leave, at least in the present. So what can you do when you hate your job but can’t leave?

Do you want do work you truly care about? You have to start by building a resume that draws people to you.  Click here to check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide. You’ll find out the 7 most important steps to doing work you love.

There are several options:

1. Pursue Passions on the Side

When I worked that sales job, it was becoming quickly apparent that it wasn’t the job for me. I had no clue what to do at the time, as I needed to pay rent. So I started doing something I enjoyed in my spare time: writing. I had always enjoyed writing and soon realized there were places online that paid for quality work. I began working for a copywriting business in my spare time. Eventually, when the time was right to leave my sales job, I had already built experience and connections within an industry that made me happier and more properly utilized my strengths — thanks to pursuing my passion on the side while working days.

Whether you have an hour or several of free time after work, it’s recommend to keep your passions intact while working at a job you hate. It could be something artistic like writing or graphic design, or maybe it’s an idea — like starting your own PR company or inventing. Regardless, a dull job shouldn’t keep you from pursuing your passions and things you’re good at.

2. Use Your Job to Identify Weaknesses

Your job right now may be boring, but you can still use it to your advantage as a device to identify which things you wouldn’t possibly want to do at your next job. For example, I found the constant phone calls in sales to be annoying, which helped me narrow down my future options and resulted in deciding on something like writing — where phone calls aren’t nearly as non-stop.

While working at your current job, write down a list of things about it you don’t enjoy, along with things you do enjoy — if any. This will help you discover the best industry for you when the time is right to leave. Making a list with two columns — “too much” and “not enough” — should make your next career move a lot clearer when the time is right.

3. Identify Lifelong Goals

It’s natural for humans to live day-by-day. It’s difficult to brainstorm about where you want to be in 20 years when rent is due and you’re worrying about affording groceries. Still, when your job isn’t the right fit, it’s a great idea to keep in mind your lifelong goals so as to better associate yourself with businesses that share similar values.

I may not have worked my sales job for long, but it was long enough to know that I needed more to strive for. Now that I’ve had that experience, I can appreciate my current position all the more. Still, some days are harder to get through. That’s where goals come in. On the days you don’t feel like working, or you feel as though you have nothing to work for, having a goal can be like having a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s your out, your way to a better job, to happiness.

Take learning as a goal, for example. Since millennials are the most educated generation in history, many businesses are beginning to adopt lifelong learning values, such as opportunities for continued education and training. If this is important to you, keep it in mind as you plot your next move. Make it a lifelong goal to work for a company that shares that value.

The second part to that goal is to work towards it in the short run, too. If you lack the experience or training to make the move to a job you want, make it a goal to start learning anything and everything you can to get to where you want to be. I make it a goal to read at least two books a month that can help me grow – both as an individual and as a professional. You’ll develop the skills you need to make the move, and that dream company of yours – the one that values learning – will take this as a sign that you’re a good fit. Now you’re not stuck anymore.

Your current job is also useful in this sense, since you can look at your current employer’s general philosophy and workplace and identify areas you don’t enjoy, such as an over-emphasis on profits over community or a lack of communication from managers. Add these aspects to either the “too much” or “not enough” columns as well.

4. Consider Staying, but With Adjustments

If for whatever reason you absolutely cannot leave your job in the near future, it may be better to hunker down and try to maximize your situation there the best you can. For example, if your job leaves you feeling unstimulated, speak with your employer about handling greater responsibilities. Not only will it make time go by quicker, but the more substantial responsibilities are a good look that can result in a pay raise down the line. Also, ask about your current employer’s educational benefits or volunteer opportunities, as both provide a way to hone your talents while working at a job that does not properly use them.

This is also a good strategy when you love the company, but hate your job. Most bosses want to retain employees and are open to horizontal movements within the company. If you’re feeling unsatisfied but aren’t interesting in leaving behind the company (or the benefits), switching to a new position within the company can sometimes be the answer.

While being at a boring job is less than desirable, these tips can either help you tolerate your current situation or move onto a new one when the time is right. Whatever you do, remember that you’re never stuck.

Sarah Landrum, the author of this post, 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

6 Ways to Improve Your Focus at Work

focus-highlight-dictionary-2

I grew up with ADD. As a child, it was a constant struggle trying to manage my attention. In high school, I forced myself to work ahead on homework through math lessons so I wouldn’t get in trouble for fidgeting or talking to my neighbor. In college, I became a note-taker so I was forced to focus in lectures.

Now, as someone who struggles with adult ADD, I know all too well how hard it can be to hold your focus at work.

Whether I’m robotically hyper-focused on one thing or flitting around between tasks, trying to get things done can sometimes feel like listening to a radio that keeps changing channels.

As a result, I’ve picked up a few tricks for shepherding wayward attention. Hopefully they’ll be as helpful for you as they are for me.

Do you want do work you truly care about? You have to start by building a resume that draws people to you.  Click here to check out the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide. You’ll find out the 7 most important steps to doing work you love.

1. Pick One Thing to Do

If you can multitask successfully, more power to you — though the argument could be made that you’re overestimating that ability. But if you’re like me, writing an article while fielding emails and answering texts is a great way to fail three things at once.

The best skill I’ve learned to avoid multitasking is to simply take away the option: Pick one item off your to-do list and put the rest of the list out of your reach. I recommend a desk-drawer. At the bottom of the ocean.

Now take that one thing and follow the wisdom of Nike: Just do it. Don’t do anything else, and don’t stop until it’s done. And on that note:

2. Set a Deadline

Think back to college. Remember that time you had a paper due for a 8 a.m. class, and you were still working on it an hour beforehand? Remember how intensely focused you were?

You can tap into that focus any time you want. Set yourself an immediate deadline, such as “two hours from now.” This is an amazing way to lock onto a task, and you can do it over and over again throughout the day.

When you set deadlines right, your schedule is nothing but a list of tasks and time-limits, and you blast through the day in a white-knuckle haze, like an astronaut wrangling a ship through reentry. That feeling when you touch down on the other side of a finished day? Awesome.

3. Eliminate Potential Distractions

This one could easily make up a whole list of its own, so I’ll be as broad as possible: You need to identify anything that has even the slightest chance of interrupting you and then kill it.

Phone? Bury it in your bag. Stomach? Fill your desk with snacks. Email, Facebook, Twitter? Check them at predetermined points throughout the day and keep the browser closed for the rest of your distraction-free day.

More than that, though, you need to make sure your immediate work-environment is free of distractions as well. One way to do this is to get a stripped-down desk with no drawers to minimize clutter. Another way is to do your work from a log cabin in the Adirondacks. You do you.

4. Wear Headphones

I cannot stress enough what a powerful weapon a pair of headphones can be. If you work at a desk, then you’re Conan the Barbarian and a pair of headphones is your sword, shield, bow and wise-cracking companion all rolled into one.

First, a pair of headphones physically chains you to your computer. Second, they shut the world out and cut off all noise. Third, they pump in noises that induce focus.

Finally, there’s something to be said for the ritual of putting on headphones, keeping them on until you reach your deadline. Donning headphones to tackle a task is like going to war. Taking them off when you’re done is like sheathing a sword. Mission accomplished.

5. Work in Short Bursts and Take Frequent Breaks

A lot of jobs will give you a set amount of break-time and tell you they don’t care how you use it. If that’s true for you, I recommend you resist the easy temptation (taking it all at once, at lunch-time) and do what your smoking friends have been doing for years: Break up the day into bite-size chunks to make it easier to manage.

How often should you take breaks?

Most efficiency experts advocate a break you’re overestimating that ability, and the science backs up that number. However, a break does not mean minimizing the work-stuff you have in one tab to open Facebook or Twitter in another. It means getting away from your desk and, more importantly, getting on your feet. Prolonged periods of sitting will literally you’re overestimating that ability. Nothing yanks you out of the zone like a heart attack.

6. Pay Attention to Your Brain

The most important lesson to take away from all this is to listen when your brain is trying to tell you something. If you’re bored with what you’re doing or get stir-crazy at your desk, that’s your brain rattling the bars of its tiny skull-shaped cage.

If there’s anything the experience of ADD teaches, it’s this: You can’t ignore your brain, and you can’t fight it — after all, it knows what you’re thinking. But you can make peace with your brain, establish a professional working relationship and set clear boundaries: Take one task at a time, set clear deadlines, remove the temptation of distractions, break up the day with frequent breaks and buy yourself a good pair of headphones.

What system or tip would you add to this list that helps you focus at work?

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

Create Your Happiness Map

Choose happiness

It could happen like this.

One day you walk into work and you get that feeling in your gut. You know you have to quit. Just like that you are on a new path.

Now you might not quit right then, but you know you have to find something better.

You start to look at other options, but aren’t sure what your next step is. I suggest you start by working on your skills first (on the side and at work) then find work that you are more passionate about. It starts with planning your next project, something you are excited about and taking action on it. You have to improve your skills now so you can do work you love in the future.

Last week I brought on a new high profile coaching client and sold 7 copies of Unlock Your Career Happiness and shared my news with my family. They enjoyed hearing about my success and it spurred a conversation with my son and his clay tiger in art class.

If I would have chosen to complain about a difficult client, I would have started the conversation down a different path. A path that would never have led to my son talking about how proud he was of his clay tiger.

By choosing what we focus on we are choosing how happy we are.

Choose Passion

That’s why I would like you to create your own happiness map.

I’m not talking about a map that brings you to a secret island that serves lobster sandwiches, gives away gold coins, and has endless amounts of your favorite beer.

I’m talking about actions that you can do today to bring yourself more happiness. An internal map that allows you to connect to what makes you happy.

Because at the end of the day, what makes you happy is rooted in your passions, focus, and strengths. If you can use all three in your life then you’ll have a sense of purpose.

Purpose is the foundation to happiness.

The reason for choosing to spend time with your family over playing video games is because of purpose. Now you might not know your career purpose yet, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You are not here for just accomplish a few small things. You are here to do great things.

“Happiness is the joy that we feel on the way to living our potential.” – Shawn Achor

Good thing for you that purpose comes in many forms. From your family to caring about the work, to spending time with good friends, to religious beliefs – it all matters.

The actions you take to live your purpose is where the true lobster sandwiches lie. It’s these actions that make up 99% of your happiness, not the treasure when you hit your destination.

If you feel excited by your work because of the people you get to help then your purpose is clear. That’s why teachers stick through the tough times. They love their students.

Happiness is Tricky

This is why happiness is tricky. People don’t focus on the positive feelings as much as they should because it can feel elusive. When you try to go after happiness you become unhappy. Your expectations get out of whack and you end up depressed.

Now when you are surprised by a co-worker buying you lunch happiness comes easy

It feels elusive because your feelings change. A student calls you an asshole and storms out of class, it’s hard to be happy. Instead of focusing back on the other 20 kids you focus on the one difficult one. You focus on the “not so good” results, which sometimes can feel empty. The tedious work that seems pointless.

You have to bring your actions back in line with what makes you happy. Focus on what you can control. You do that by having clear actions that you can take when one part of your career/life isn’t going as well as you hoped.

You can fly by the seat of your pants, which can work for a lot of people. It doesn’t work well for me. I get off track.

I use my Happiness Map to get myself back on track.

Here is my current Happiness Map:

Career Happiness Map

As you can see from my 5th grader handwriting and child like drawings that I’m not an artist. The idea is not to make this perfect, but to just make it.

I’ve done many of these actions in each box, but not all of them. I’ve never done a keynote at a conference. I would like to, but it hasn’t happened yet. It’s not about doing every single one, it’s about looking at your life as a whole and seeing how much good work you have done. It’s about focusing on work that you enjoy and continuing to do more of it in the future.

Create Your Own Happiness Map

  1. Make a list of top 5 feelings you want to feel while you work. Write them down the left side of the paper.
  2. Across the top number from 1 – 4. You can do more, but the idea is to keep your focus on the most important work.
  3. Make a grid so you have a little box below the numbers and across from these feelings.
  4. Write actions that bring these feelings into your work day.

The idea is to help put your actions into focus. If you notice that my second box next to the feeling joyful is writing. I truly love to write. That’s what I’m doing right now and I feel very lucky to be doing it.

Sometimes I get away from writing and my Happiness Map reminds me to get back on track. Put my focus back on what makes happy.

I started this Happiness Map because of Danielle Laporte. She is the inspiration that helped me figure out how to put this all onto one piece of paper. Thank you, Danielle!

The next most important part is putting your Happiness Map in a place so that you’ll see it every single day. It could go in your bedroom, cubicle, office, bathroom, etc. The idea is to keep your focus on what is important to you.

Where will you put your Happiness Map?