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?

Take 11 Deep Breaths Before Work


Every day my anxiety would start early. It wouldn’t start until I began to get ready for work. Usually when I brushed my teeth. I could feel the muscles between my shoulder blades tighten just a bit.

Then on the commute to work I would try to tune out my thoughts with NPR, sports radio, or light hearted pop music. Anything to stay a little more relaxed. When I would pull into my parking space my anxiety would go up a notch. I really didn’t want to go in. It’s the reason I started to meditated at the end of my last corporate job. I needed to be able to relax before I dealt with my boss and co-workers.

Your breath is the most important part of your day. 

When you take shallow breaths you are signaling to yourself to be in a state of worry.

“Fear is just excitement without taking a breath.” – Danielle LaPorte

I was so worried about what others thought and I couldn’t let go of these tense emotions.

So I instituted the 11 breaths before work routine and it worked beautifully. It allowed me to stop letting my mind go into a frenzy and helped me remember to breathe at work. I added a 11 breaths bathroom break in the early afternoon to help me reconnect with my relaxed state.

So let’s look at the basics of creating your own 11 Breaths breathing routine, so you can bring more calmness to your work day.


Stop whatever you are doing and just take 11 deep breaths and let go of everything else going on in your life.

Focus on:

Your breath.


You feel like you are about to freak out. The last person you talked with treated you badly. When you leave work and you need to let all your stress wash away.

What I like:

The simple act of breathing and letting go it the single best habit to cultivate within oneself. Doing this every single day for 30 days changed my life around. I felt less depressed and enjoyed the end of each day.

I’m working on the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit. A personal version, team building version, team games version will eventually be a part of it. This is one from the personal version. Would you like more ideas like this one help you work happier?

Why You Should Take Longer Vacations

Beautiful Forest and Quote

I stand on the porch and look out into the woods. I feel my shoulders release their tension just a little bit more.

It’s the 5th day of our vacation and I’m still feeling my muscles release stress.

Four months earlier I was at a conference and while I was there I was trying to be everywhere at once. I wore myself out.

After the conference was over I took a long morning to myself before I headed to the airport. I told myself that this was “ME” time. I was fooling myself. I was just too exhausted to do anything, but get a cup of coffee and stare into space.

I Was A Fraud

After trying to do a little work on the plane. I closed my laptop. Closed my eyes. I was a fraud.

How could I tell other people not to push too hard without taking the time to reflect and recharge?

I forgot how important it was to take a vacation.

You need short breaks throughout the day and long breaks throughout the year.

Too much work stifles your creativity.

I go to 4-5 conferences a year to speak and network. It’s an adventure, but it doesn’t leave much time for reflection. I also take long weekends with my family. I like to think of these as vacations, but they really aren’t. These are good to do, but don’t help me recharge my internal battery. It’s more of a quick charge.

It’s why I stopped trying to work on Sundays. I use this time for reflection and recharging my mind and body.

I had been working very hard for the past 12 months. I hadn’t thought about a vacation. We had one planned for the summer, but I really intended to work through a lot of it.

Right now I’m on vacation. Yes, I’m writing this on vacation because writing is very important to me capturing and improving on my ideas.

It’s the grind of billing, invoicing, setting up calls, marketing, social media, and everything it takes to grow my businesses that is draining. It all adds up throughout the year. Each thing is like a small little weight that sits on my shoulders.

So now as I’m writing these thoughts to help you, I realize how important it is for you to understand the importance of a long vacation. A long vacation to let these little weights fall off your shoulders.

At First It’s Painful

I felt anxious that I wasn’t responded back to clients within a few hours.

I kept reaching for my phone to check it out of habit.

I felt the need to stay busy.

Then I made a conscious decision to be smart about this vacation. I watched how when I grabbed my phone it was to avoid feeling anxious. So instead I just became a watcher of these thoughts and feelings.

I stopped getting angry at myself for wanting to do great work. I also stopped allowing email to ease my anxiety. Late July to mid August is a slow time of year for me. It’s ok for me not to respond back within a few hours. I told all my clients that this would be my vacation. No one asked me to be available. They all said. Have a great vacation. They knew what I forgot. The importance of taking a long vacation.

Two days ago I went to the beach without a laptop and I checked my email once and didn’t respond to anything. Five days ago I went to the Castle playground in Doylestown, PA with my father and 5-year-old, then got a burger, library, a nature hike, then a glass of beer and a nice meal with the family.

Starting to Unwind

It’s took all five days for me to start relaxing and unwind.

Of course daily Yoga helps too.

This morning I took a hike with my 5-year-old son and picked raspberries. These thoughts started to bubble and I wrote a note into my phone to take a couple hours to write this post.

Your brain needs to play. Adventure gives you the freedom to play with your thoughts and take them in all different kinds of directions. This can only happen with extended play. You won’t unwind with a long weekend. It takes awhile to let go of the work, stress, anxiety to allow you to see clearly.

From an unofficial pole from my coaching clients it seems like day 5 is when the tension really starts to unwind.

What can you do to extend your next vacation. If you were going to take a long weekend, try taking 5-6 days. If you were going to take a week try taking 10 days. I understand if you can’t extend the next one, but start planning a long vacation now. It will make you happier and after it’s over you will have an extra bounce in your step when you get back.

The important part is not to ignore the thoughts that bubble up on vacation. Get them out and get them down.

You don’t need to start up a new project or dive into work. Just write down what thoughts and feelings bubble up and come to mind so you don’t forget them. You’ll probably come up with a few new ideas that you’ll be excited to use when you get back to work.

Now go and plan your next long vacation and let yourself truly relax and watch what happens. Then come back here and share it with me.

Why American Leaders Don’t Care about Happiness at Work

emotions matter

My son just starred as the credits rolled. It wasn’t the reaction that I was hoping for. I wiped away a tear and whispered in his ear.

What did you think?

Nothing. He just sat there, staring straight ahead.

He’s five and got up on my lap in the beginning of the movie. He barely twitched for an hour and forty minutes.

The movie definitely interested him, but he just wasn’t sure what to make of it.

We watched Inside Out. A movie about a young girls emotions as she dealt with moving from Minnesota to San Fransisco.

It was a look at the emotions inside this girl’s head and the struggles that all eleven year olds go through. The main character (emotion) inside her, Joy, struggle with letting sadness be a part of her emotional spectrum.

It was a cool visualization of how many of us deal with our emotions.

We’re afraid of them.

Their messy.

Especially at work.

This was very true as I talked with my Aunt who is a small business owner. She took me out to lunch and asked me about my businesses.

I explained how my UX (User Experience) company, Domino Connection, was growing very fast for only being me. I told her how I branched out into A/B testing website, so I could help my clients create base markers to measure from so they could increase leads and sales. She was fascinated.

I then shared how I used a lot of the stuff from Work Happy Now to help my clients like helping them create feedback loops, developing core values to use in the workplace, and measuring people’s happiness (satisfaction) at work.

I started to lose her.

I tried to bring her back, but I felt the push back about measuring happiness.

I’ve seen this again and again from American leaders at work.

Don’t get me wrong. My aunt has a lot of happiness ideas in place for her employees. She tries very hard to make employees feel listened to and appreciated. She buys them lunch when they work weekends. She pays 100% for their healthcare.

There are a lot of perks, but she also makes a lot of mistakes. Which she’ll also admit. There are no perfect leaders.

As I tried to bring her back to the idea of measuring happiness and improving her feedback loop she explained how she already did a lot of this and didn’t really need to improve it.

I paused and thought about a conversation that I had with a potential client around creating happiness measurement markers in their company.

You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

I created the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stress overload. Leaders, like my aunt, can bring a more positive experiences into the workplace and improve engagement if they have help.

It was the same conversation all over again.

Americans don’t like dealing with emotions in the workplace. We don’t want to deal with sadness, anger, and even happiness.

We have a hard enough time accepting our own thoughts and emotions, dealing with other people’s emotions just gets harder.

Does it mean we should ignore emotions in the workplace because it’s hard?


Let me ask you:

How often do you celebrate at work?

Not just closing a big client or someone’s birthday. Which of course is good to do, but celebrating a team’s hard work.

Just sharing a proud moment even if it didn’t work out. Taking a moment to celebrate someone’s hard work shows them that you are listening. That you notice how hard they are working. It’s this appreciation that can make an employee’s week.

It’s not just Americans that struggle with emotions in the workplace. Germans, Brits, and Japanese people struggle with emotions too.

We are afraid to admit we are tired, stressed, frustrated. We push these emotions down and take it out on our families, which isn’t fair.

That’s why measuring people’s emotional states is important. We can see patterns in the joy and the struggle. We can use these patterns to help make better choices for the company to retain people who are thinking about leaving the company or improve how people view their experience at work.

Is it perfect? Nope. Science isn’t perfect. It gets even messier with trying to measure feelings. It’s about doing our best to improve upon our experiences so we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed out, and cause more damage to ourselves or other people. It’s also about being happier because if we aren’t happy at work we don’t have good results.

The point of life is happiness. – The Dalai Lama

Asking for feedback from employees on a regular basis is just one listening tool that you can use to help increase happiness.

This is where it gets tough for many leaders…They first have to admit that they aren’t perfect and they need help. That they don’t always listen as well as they should or believe that they are.

Are American leaders afraid of the answers that they will get if they ask how happy their employees are at work? Maybe they’re afraid of getting too much feedback or not enough.

So I ask you…

Why do you think Americans so afraid of emotions at work? Do you see it similar to me or from a different perspective?

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section in the article.

If you need help retaining your best employees and improving your listening tools, so they feel heard. Just let me know and we’ll set up a consultation.

5 Ways Great Leaders Help Their Employees Process Stress

stress at work

I have a friend who works for a tech company and she is constantly on edge. They push her and her team very hard.

She told me that her hands sweat every time her boss approaches her. He might just walk up and ask how her day was going, but because of past issues she freaks out every time they talk.

This response causes her to be constantly be on alert instead of relaxed.

When you are relaxed you are:

  • More creative.
  • More productive.
  • Happier

It’s not how much stress you have at work that matters, but how you process your stress. The more tools you have to build strong stress processing habits the healthier and happier you will be.

If you want to get the most our of yourself and your team you must understand how to process your stress. Stress is not bad. Too much sustained stress is what is bad for you. Stress can gel a group together if there are systems in place to help them.

People are 30% more likely to die from stressful experience like death in family or financial struggles each year. The people who have no increase in dying from stress focus on helping others instead of dwelling on their situation. – Kelly McGonigal

So let’s look at how you can help your employees process stress and help them be more productive and of course happier.

Special notice: Does your business need more effective and loyal employees? Then signup for the first 6 modules of the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stress overload. It will explain the importance of creating a great culture and how to encourage more engagement as a leader at work.

1. Create vision and core values for your team.

Creating core values is where I start with every client who wants a happier and more productive team. People want a better understanding of why they do what they do and how the team’s values fit that vision.

If their core values don’t fit with the team’s there will be a disconnect that causes a lot of stress. Many times this can be fixed by making the vision and core values more clear.

It’s important that your team incorporates the vision and core values into the routine of work. If you create them and don’t talk about them and live them then they become forgotten. It’s why I suggest creating monthly themes to help engage and share ideas that help employees live the team’s core values.

2. Improve your coaching skills.

Good coaching skills in a boss and/or manager are one of the most sought after attributes of a manager by young employees. They want to work for someone that encourages them to be their best instead of just telling them what to do.

One of the best skills to use with people who are stressed out is the Reframing Technique. It helps people put a situation into a more positive perspective. If you notice an employee who is stressed out then pull them aside and talk with them. Help them see the positive in the situation.

It could be a really good question like:

Are you feeling a little stressed right now?

The question is a tad leading, but if the signs are there you want them to know that you notice that they are feeling overwhelmed. If they say yes than ask them why?

Let’s say they are worried about what the CEO will think of the finished project. Let them know that you would like them to meet the deadline, but their health and happiness is important. You could try a quick reframe by asking them:

What is the worse case scenario?

They might say that they’ll be fired. Then ask them if they’ll still wake up in their warm bed tomorrow? Will they still eat a delicious breakfast? Will they be able to hug their kids when they get home? It’s a good way to make them smile. They should say yes, which is what you want. It allows them to put the situation into perspective. You want them to let go of the stress and anxiety so they can do calm and focused work. Work that won’t get them fired.

The main idea is help them reframe the situation so they can let go of the stress and get back to being relaxed and productive.

3. Make them laugh.

Humor is one of the greatest stress relievers ever known. If your team is stressed out and arguing with each other. It’s time to step in and encourage them to do something fun that will hopefully get them to laugh.

You can order pizza and get people to hang out with each other. If you think your team could use a distraction you can play charades or Cranium (board game) that gets people talking and sharing.

Every team is different, but encouraging conversations usually helps build a bond and laughter naturally flows.

4. Know when to be a friend.

There are always difficult choices when you are a manager. Sometimes you have to be tough, create expectations and if they don’t meet those expectations then there are consequences.

Other times you have to be a friend. A friend who is compassionate and can be there to listen to someone who is having a stressful time at work.

Being a friend who is there to listen and offer advice can go a long way to building trust. The hard part is knowing when to be a friend and when to be a boss. Everyone is different and you’ll have to go with your gut.

Just try to put yourself in their shoes and see the situation from their perspective. This will give you a good idea of when you just need to be a friend and empathetic to how they are feeling.

5. Jump in and help.

“How can I help?”

Is one of my favorite questions from my boss. It meant he was willing to dig in and help make things better.

Too often managers ask.

Can I help?

This is a bad question. It shows people that you don’t really want to help because you are subtly telling them to say they don’t need your help.

Sometimes you can see where an employee is struggling and where you can help then just jump in and start helping. A boss that isn’t afraid to ask how she can help is one leader that I’ll gladly work hard for any day of the week.

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. – Havelock Ellis

Now it’s your turn?

How can you apply one of these ideas to your leadership skills?

What attribute have you seen from a manager that helped you deal with your stress at work?

11 Ways to have More Productive Mornings

city sunrise happiness quote

I was perfectly happy – and productive – staying up late into the night to study and sleeping in until nine or ten in the morning. Then my first full time job came along. It was a tough adjustment.

Not only did I have to learn to wake up early, but I had to learn how to be productive during those early morning hours. After a lot of a trial-and-error I found ways to make the most of my mornings. I came up with 11 techniques that will work for almost anyone.

I may not be a morning person, but I am proud to say that I can hang with the earliest of the early worms. So, if you’re anything like me and are looking to break unhealthy habits and start eating your frog in the early hours of the day, try out some of these tips for kick-starting your morning routine.

1. Get Up Early

Probably not what you want to hear, but getting up earlier has multiple benefits. Time is precious, and in the early hours you’re much less likely to be bothered by others wanting your attention.

For those who work around their families, waking up before they do guarantees you time to focus on work before your family needs you. Many famous CEOs wake up well before 6am, so it’s a habit worth emulating.

2. Make a Schedule and Stick To It

When we’re busy, it’s easy to become stressed and overwhelmed by what we have to do. To combat this, create a schedule in the morning for your day, built around when you feel it’s easier to do certain tasks. For example, you might find it easier to do creative tasks earlier in the morning, so you can schedule them before noon. Plan your time, and stick to that plan.

3. Do Easy Tasks Early

If you find it difficult to get started in the mornings, plan to tackle one or two simpler, easy tasks when you start work. Doing so will help you feel as if you’ve achieved something, and then you’ll have more motivation to move on to more complex tasks.

4. Tackle That One Difficult Task First (AKA Eat a Frog)

Alternatively, it may be better to deal with that one nagging item on your to do list that you’ve been putting off. Mark Twain said, “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, that will probably be the worst thing you do all day,” and he wasn’t wrong. Deal with the event you’re dreading first, and the rest of the day will be much easier.

5. Turn Your Phone Off

Smartphones are wonderful devices, but they’re also ultimate distraction machines. It’s hard to concentrate on work when you’re busy checking social media or fiddling around with games on the side. Switch it off and put it away; you can always come back to it later.

6. Read the News – But Only Once

For similar reasons, it’s worth reading the news in the morning and then leaving it alone. Reading the news in the morning is a good way of kick-starting your brain and finding out what’s going on in the world. However, it’s very tempting to keep checking back for updates on events, especially in an age of 24-hour reporting, but resist. Instead, stick to one popular news source for all of your information and get it all in the AM.

7. Reward Yourself

If you finish a task by lunch, don’t forget to reward yourself. Even if it’s just a walk to the corner and back to get a cup of coffee, make sure you make time for yourself once you’ve achieved a goal.

8. Have a Positive Attitude

If you go into your work day stressed out, thinking you’ll never get anything done, it’ll become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you go in with a positive attitude, achieving your goals will be much simpler. Similarly, avoid people in the workplace who complain about their workloads without attempting to solve their problems. Their attitude will only weigh you down.

9. Use the Time to Network

Workday lunches can be an interruption to your schedule, and evening drinks can veer very much off topic after a couple of cocktails. If you meet up with colleagues in the morning for a coffee, you can get much more accomplished.

10. Check Your Email

Check your inbox early on and deal with emails as you open them. Resist the urge to hit “Mark as Unread” and vow to deal with it later; if it can be answered, take the time to do it and clear it out of your inbox. Once they’re done, you can leave your inbox while you work, without the thought of what’s waiting in it hanging over you.

11. Stop Multitasking

Finally, try to only do one thing at once. Research has shown multitasking can slow you down by as much as 40%, since you’re really only switching from one to the other and preventing yourself from getting into a good workflow.

Mornings truly are the golden period for productivity, as you’re fresh and ready for the day before all the distractions and requests for your attention come piling in. Make the alarm clock your friend and squeeze the most out of your working day.

Which idea do you think you would share with a team member? Why would you share it?

Focus is important to a great team. What could you add to the list that would help you and your team have more productive mornings?

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

What Makes You Feel Good About Your Work?

Legos at the office

Have you ever been pulled from a project?


Have you ever had a project end abruptly? Leaving you feeling empty inside.

It’s a terrible feeling. I was pulled from a big project I spent months of my time working on. The CEO wanted to put me in a different department. Just like that my work felt like it went up in smoke. I didn’t even try to argue to let me stay on. I felt defeated. I gave up on my job, my career, and it took me awhile to get back my passion.

The key for me was to get back to basics.

Dan Ariely did a study that was focused on understanding why people enjoyed or didn’t enjoy their work. He did a study where he asked people to build a Lego character. He would pay them $3 to assemble the first one. He would take the Lego Character and put it under the table then ask them if they wanted to build another character, but this time for $2.70.

Then he created another test that was set up the same way, plus payment, except for one condition. The Lego character was destroyed right before their eyes and they were asked to build it again with a reduced price of 30 cents.

He called it the Sisyphus condition (AKA meaningful condition) from the Greek myth where he was punished for chronic deceitfulness and forced to spend an eternity to push a boulder up a hill only to have it fall back down right before he reached the top.

What ended up happening was that people in the first experiment would build 11 figures when they took the figure and placed it behind the desk vs only 7 in the 2nd test where they saw their hard work destroyed right before them.

Both groups of people knew that their character would eventually be destroyed, but the first group stuck it out because they found more meaning in their work.

Your feelings matter. The importance of feeling that your hard work is for a larger purpose makes a huge difference in your happiness. The more trivial your work feels the more you disconnect from the results.

Have you ever struggled to stay motivated or motivate your team?

Here at Work Happy Now we want to help you and your team. You can get the first 6 modules for free right here. It gives you ideas of how to create more positive experiences for you and your team, so you feel more connected to your co-workers and your work.

Believe Again

Believe again


My eyes darted around looking for a car barreling toward us. No car. No danger.

My 5-year-old son ran into the grass of our front yard. Grabbed something from the air and came back to me.

“Got it,” he said.

“Got what?” I asked.

“My dragon.”

He cracked open his hand and whispered something to his dragon. He skipped forward and lead the way to the playground.

I smiled, following behind him.

The greatest gift you can give anyone is fostering their belief in something greater than themselves. It’s what most lives and companies are built upon. The belief that your time isn’t being wasted on something pointless.

When is the last time you encourages someone’s idea to create something, build something, do something that sparks their curiosity?

By someone…

I mean YOU.

Yes, YOU!

Do you encourage yourself to do work on something that excites you? Or do you hold back because you let that negative inner voice keep you grounded?

Too grounded.

You will always be your biggest advocate or arch nemesis. If you don’t encourage yourself to grab your dragon and take it for a walk who will?

Do you also encourage others to do something that peaks their curiosity?

Purpose is very important, it helps you dig a little deeper for the curiosity that helps you find creative solutions.

As I type this I hesitate because of how you might view my ideas, but I keep typing. I want you to know that following your curiosity can be a wonderful experience if you don’t allow yourself to get too attached to the outcome.

The only way you will to do work that truly matters is doing work that you are curious about. Curiosity is so important to living a great career. The ideas that stand the test of time are done from curiosity not for the pursuit of money.

In every person’s life they hit that fork and take the easy road. They take a job that pays well, but doesn’t light them up inside. Or they avoid taking a job to discover what they truly love to do.

Everyone hits this fork. The people that stay on the easy road end up coasting along. Now the people that say I’m tired of this path I know what matters to me and I’m going to go for it. It’s these people that believe their lives matter. Their lives shouldn’t be about coasting, but about doing something that impacts people they care about.

You have to ask yourself these 3 questions that I learned from Jason Fried:

  1. What’s important?
  2. What should be the same?
  3. What needs to change?

This should be a regular part of your career and your team’s development.

The greatest change I made in the past year is taking my gratitude journal to a whole new level. I grab a blank sheet of paper fold it in half and then half again. I open it back up and I write.

  • Good
  • Struggle
  • Better
  • Stories

Then I list as many as I can, except for better. I only put one on the “better” list. I don’t want to overwhelm myself with trying to improve too many things at once. Just one small step that I know I can handle.

I do this to help me capture my life.

I focus on what I’ve done well, where I struggle, what I could do better, and what stories I can share with others.

It encourages me take the bird’s eye view of my life.

Then at the end of the month I ask myself the above 3 questions I learned from Jason.

Instead of piling more on to my busy plate, I focus on what’s important. It’s this focus that has made a huge difference in my happiness. The main difference is the belief in my work has come back into focus.

I stopped trying to be all things to all people.

I’m on this earth to be happy, help others, and catch the uncatchable.

“Dragon’s are real, Dad,” my sold told me as we walked to the playground.

“Yep. They are,” I said. “You know what I love about dragons?” I asked him.

He stopped. Looked up at me.


“Riding them to the playground.”

He smiled.

“Yeah, me too.”

I smiled. He put his hands between his legs and rode off on his dragon.

When did you stop believing in dragons?

Your first “real job”?


High school?

When you didn’t get the validation you expected?

It’s time to believe in dragons again. It’s time you created a project that you care about, a project that you want to put time into each day. A project that has unlimited potential to help people.

Believe again.

Believe in curiosity.

Follow it to new places. Even frustrating places that test your last ounce of patience.

The first step is to ask yourself, “What’s important to you?”

What project can you start and work on for the next 30 days? Can you write about something that changes people’s perspective? Can you make something that no one thought was needed?

What are you curious about that needs exploring?

Are you curious about your own team’s happiness and how you can create experiences that bring them closer together? Then check out the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stress overload. You can get the first 6 modules in this free ebook here.

The Ultimate 3 Step Process to Help You Bounce Back from 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

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