Why Mastery Won’t Make You Happier Unless You Implement This Habit

daily habits

There’s a myth I want to dispel right now.

People believe that if you chase mastery you will be happy. This makes me mad. They say don’t pursue your passions just focus on being really good at something. They are fools because they want to give you the magic bullet to solve your career unhappiness.

Before you yell at me and site 10 articles that say we shouldn’t pursue our passions. Like this one and this one. I know how hard it is to chase career happiness. There is no magic bullet.

Chasing mastery can only make you happy if you have a balanced approach.

This is where most people get tripped up.

They chase after what they think will make them happy without looking at other factors.

I love music, but you won’t catch me up on stage with a guitar belting out my latest song.

Appreciate Your Weaknesses

I know my limitations. Maybe a bit too well.

You must be honest with yourself. Your weaknesses matter as much as your strengths.

This is where it gets tricky for most people. They see themselves up on stage with an excited crowd cheering them on. They want this feeling. They think it will make them happy. They believe that if they try hard enough they will make it happen. They negate their strengths and try to make their dreams a reality.

That’s why I advocate to all my clients to create a plan that fits their strengths, passions, and focus. I like to call this trifecta your superpowers. It’s the last one that’s maybe the most important.

Passion focus strengths

Focus allows you to get lost in the work. You’ve heard the phrase:

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

That’s why getting lost in the work is as important as getting great results. Because the journey is where 99% of your time is spent. If you only enjoy 1% of your work then you have a terrible happiness ratio.

This is why passion is as important as strengths. If all you did was focus on your strengths and you became the best in your industry in your field, you could still feel empty.

Know Your Purpose

It’s the people that love their work and are amazing at what they do that are the happiest and get the best results.

You can be extremely happy just doing projects that make you happy, but not a lot of money. In fact you should be doing projects that are solely done to make you happy. That’s what Work Happy Now is for me. It’s my passion project.

You can make a lot of money mastering skills that others admire and pay you well for, but true happiness is mastering work that you love.

To be able to do work that makes you happy and played to your strengths and focus is a trifold effort and always a moving target.

I might master weeding my garden, but it probably won’t make make happy for very long. There is not a lot of difficulty in weeding.

New Challenges

What made you happy 10 years ago won’t make you happy today. Skills you mastered 10 years ago won’t be as enjoyable today. Your brain craves new challenges.

The best way to make mastery an important part of your happiness program is to review and adjust on a regular basis. At the end of each day I review my progress. It’s this habit that has helped me make sure I have a balanced approach to my work.

I make sure that following my passions or mastering a skill doesn’t over consume my life.

Reviewing your day is one the best habits you can implement in your career. You may want to start with a gratitude journal. It’s where I started and one of the best habits I’ve ever implemented into my life.

How you do this is important. It’s important to have a system that fits your personality.

Do you use reflection to improve your career?

I’m working on creating the Work Happy Now podcast, so you can grow your work happiness on your commute or lunch hour. I could use your input. What do you need from me to help you be a better leader at work? Just fill out this 2 minute survey and let me know how I can serve you better.

Start Something New to Level Up Your Happiness

Of all the buildings in Texas my favorite has to be the Alamo. You can feel the pain that happened there.

Even the walls look like they are crying.There is something cathartic about walking through the historic building. I can just hand over my worries to the building.

Then after you thoughts are cleansed you go outside into the courtyard. As you walk around the asphalt paths there are soda machines tucked back by the bathrooms. They make me smile.

We can’t help but infuse modern living into museums. It’s who we are.

Do you want do work you care about? You have to start by building a resume that your ideal people love. 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 was someone that thought this was a good idea. It was voted on and now we have soda machines to quench people’s thirst as they walk the grounds.

I’m not sure it this is good or bad, but how cool would it be if there was an area to buy a drink that mimicked the experience of what it would have been like to buy a drink over 100 years ago?

Employees that worked the 100 Year Old Bar could be dressed similarly. There could be old style music. I’m not sure what they drank back then, but they could add modern drinks and flavors like Coke, but keep everything else feeling like it would a have been ordering from a bar at that time. Yes, this would cost more, but I know it would generate more money for them. It would be a memorable experience. One I would pay for again and again.

The idea is to get visitors to talk about the story of the Alamo with my friends. The only way to do this is to do something new. Something I haven’t seen before. Something worth sharing.

Yes it might be more challenging for the organization that runs the Alamo, but it could also send thousands of more people there each month.

New challenges help us become healthier. It slows down your cognitive decline and helps you work with purpose.

I want to create a better experience for you at Work Happy Now, so I decided to do something new.

As I work to infuse more ways for you to bring more happiness to your career and life I’ve decided to create a podcast.

I want to make it special. I want to make the experience fun, learning, and authentic. Something for you to download to your phone or other device so you can listen on the way to work.

So I’m hoping to get feedback from you.

Are you a fan of podcasting?

Then fill out this short survey and let me know how I can help you infuse more passion, improve your focus, and leverage your strengths at work.

P.S. If you don’t listen to podcast or don’t like audio books then no worries. I’m going to continue to write articles to help you too. If you do like audio then fill out the short survey and let me know how I can help you better.

Feeling Unfulfilled at Work? Try This…

Shine light on your darkness

We all want to feel fulfilled in our work. A lucky few find fulfillment naturally and easily in their careers. For the rest of us, we have to get creative to find that elusive sense of fulfillment.

Maybe the reason we haven’t found it yet is that we’ve been looking in the wrong place.

Once upon a time, a rabbi came across a drunkard who was down on his hands and knees by the base of a lamppost. He was scrabbling around on the sidewalk as if looking for something.

The rabbi said, “My son, are you looking for something? Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for my keys,” replied the drunk man.

“I’ll help,” said the rabbi as he got down on his hands and knees too, and looked all over the area covered by the lamppost’s light. After a thorough search, he said, “I can’t find them. When’s the last time you saw them?”

“Oh, I dropped them over there in that field,” replied the drunk, pointing to a pitch-black field about 100 feet off the side of the road.

“If you know you dropped them in that field, then why are you looking over here?” asked the rabbi.

“Because this is where the light is.”

Have you been looking for job fulfillment under the lamppost, where it’s nice and bright and comfortable? You know, if it were under the lamppost, you would have found it by now.

What if your fulfillment isn’t there at all, but in that dark field off the side of the road?

What’s lost within your dark field?

True fulfillment doesn’t come from chilling out in the light. True fulfillment comes from bringing light to the darkness.

So the first question to ask if you want to find your fulfillment is: What’s your darkness?

In other words:

  • What’s the most frustrating issue in your life that you constantly wrestle with?
  • What’s the biggest inner obstacle keeping you from feeling fulfilled?
  • What are you most ashamed of about yourself?

Wait, you’re telling me that if I want to Work Happy Now, I need to head toward my greatest fear and my deepest shame?

If what you mean by “happy” is “comfortable”, you can do that by just chilling out in the light.

But if you want more than that, yes, you’ll need to journey to the dark places and shine the light on them.

Here’s what that looks like in practical terms.

Summer’s darkness is her integrity. Summer is now the operations manager of a major construction company, but to get there, she made some dodgy deals that she now regrets. At first, she felt proud of her accomplishments, with the added pride of being a successful woman in a male-dominated field, but she hasn’t ever felt truly fulfilled in her career. Now, she’s in a position to cut some corners that would save the company a lot of money at the cost of safety. To find fulfillment, Summer shines light on her darkness and chooses integrity (core value) over success.

Barry’s darkness is his anger. Barry is a celebrated chef, and he often takes out his anger on his subordinates. All the awards he’s won bring him a sense of satisfaction, but not true fulfillment. To find fulfillment, Barry shines light on his darkness by becoming kinder and working more smoothly with his team – while still getting results.

Ophelia’s darkness is self-doubt. Ophelia is an HR manager, and she often second-guesses herself, always afraid that she’s made a bad hire or handled a conflict in the wrong way. This self-doubt makes her feel constantly inadequate, despite glowing reviews from her manager. To find fulfillment, Ophelia shines light on her darkness by practicing meditation to find inner calm, which quiets the voice of self-doubt and grows her confidence.

Over to You

Summer, Barry, and Ophelia didn’t need to quit their jobs or change positions to find true fulfillment. They faced their darkness and found a creative way to shine light on it.

What’s your darkness?

And what’s one way you can shine light on it in your work?

Pace Smith (The Pathfinding Coach) helps sensitive spiritual nonconformists live wild crazy meaningful lives. She’s also a teacher, a speaker, a writer, a Sufi dervish, a bi poly trans gamer geek, an open-source Reiki healer, and a tournament-level Dance Dance Revolution player. Download her free eBook, Find Your Path Now, to STOP living on autopilot and START living the wholehearted, unconventional life you were meant to live.

1,000 Thank You’s a Day

smile-bench-bird

I was on my way to the grocery store and my favorite song was on the radio. As I was backing out of the driveway, it ended. I had a rough day. My normally calm demeanor snapped. I freaked out.

I hit my steering wheel, yelled stuff I wasn’t proud of, and looked around to see if any neighbors noticed my outburst.

Nope.

I was alone.

I put the car in drive and slowly rolled toward the grocery story, the anger just throbbing inside of me.

The thing was there were 1,000 things that went right that day.

  1. I had a delicious cup of coffee.
  2. My son hugged me.
  3. My wife kissed me.
  4. My heater kept me warm throughout the night.
  5. I watched a funny YouTube video.
  6. I landed a new client project.
  7. I brushed my teeth which really felt good.
  8. I walked to the bathroom without stubbing my toe.
  9. My dog was quietly lying next to me as I worked.
  10. My lungs were working well, keeping the oxygen flowing.
  11. A bird outside my window sang it’s heart out, trying to make sure I heard and enjoyed his tune.
  12. My delicious PBJ.
  13. My laptop started up without any trouble.
  14. I listened to my favorite jazz song from John Coltrane.
  15. (What would you add to the list?)

The list went on.

The thing was I stubbed my little toe on the coffee table at the end of the day, and got an email from someone confirming that they were going with a different keynote speaker at their conference. These two things caused my mood to sour and I couldn’t let them go.

When my favorite song that I really wanted to listen to ended right as I turned on my car, I snapped.

How often have a few bad things totally wrecked what could have been a great day?

A co-worker’s snide comment or your boss dumping extra work on you are kind of lousy events. Yes, unpleasant things do happen, but so many things go right throughout a day as well.

The important thing is to notice and appreciate them, and that’s where the 1,000 thank you’s a day challenge comes into play.

This idea came to me after hearing A.J. Jacobs speak at the World Domination Summit. (BTW, if you want an inspiring conference that sparks you to try something new, this is the conference for you.)

After watching his talk and listening to how he appreciated things we take for granted, like his pressing the elevator button and the elevator doors closing and the elevator rising up, I began to see how powerful this practice could be.

I like to keep things simple so I’m doing the 1,000 thank you’s a day challenge for one week. If I can say 1 thank you every 30 seconds that’s 1,440 thank you’s within 12 hours.

I can do 2 thank you’s a minute.

Even if I only reach 500, that’s a lot of thank you’s.

This is bound to change my thought habits. I’ve kept a gratitude journal the past few years, but I want to take my gratitude up a notch. The key to making a lasting change is pushing outside your comfort zone and trying to keep it there then take a break to allow this part of yourself to rest and get stronger. Just like exercising your bicep, stomach or any other muscle. If I can build a more thankful foundation in my everyday life, I know I’ll increase my happiness. And I know you can too.

Would you be interested in joining in on the fun? Can you be thankful for 100 things each day, or maybe even just 10 for one week?

Whatever number feels good to you, I say go for it.

At the end of 7 days, I’ll list 1,000 things I’m grateful for and share them with you in a blog post. If I don’t reach my goal of 1,000, I’ll add what I have and keep adding to it until I hit a 1,000.

If you want to join in with 100 thank you’s or even 10 thank you’s a day, then let’s do this for one week. Join in right now and write 5 things you are grateful for below in the comment section. Let’s make this an epic list of positivity. Oh and if you find this fun then tell a friend to stop by and leave their list of 5 things they are thankful for too.

3 Greatest Questions You Can Ask Yourself to Unlock Your Happiness

Good Questions

A young man took his artwork to the local market. He set up his booth with his paintings of a blue horse. People liked his work, but he never sold much. Each week he would go back hoping for someone to fall in love with his work.

One day one of his fellow artist friends stopped by to share a cup of coffee. They joked around and laughed.

A man came up to them and asked the artist if he could paint a yellow elephant for him. The artist laughed and said “I paint blue horses. Don’t you like them?”

“Yes, but my wife loves elephants and I thought…” said the man.

“I don’t do yellow elephants. I hate yellow,” said the artist as he brushed the man away.

So the man left.

After a few months, the young artist’s friend set up his own booth with paintings of yellow elephants. The young artist stopped by to have a cup of coffee with his friend and asked “What is this? Yellow elephants? No one will buy these ugly things.”

They laughed about it. The young artist was right. No one wanted the yellow elephants. That was until the man from a couple months ago stopped by.

“These are beautiful. How much?”

“For which one?”

“For all of them?”

Do you have stories that you tell yourself that hold you back? E.g. when someone asks you to work on a project and instead of trying to make it your own you dismiss it or don’t try your best to do a good job?

Special notice: The Unlock Your Career Happiness Guide is now available. Click here to see how my 7 step process helped my clients become happier and get better results.

Might it be possible to create a project in your career that delivers happiness for them as well as to you?

No one taught me the skills on how to build a career that would make me happy. At every step of my education I was taught to execute other people’s ideas well. A teacher would give me an assignment and I would figure out how to make them happy.

Did you have a similar upbringing?

I was told I was a terrible writer. I should put my energy into “other” things.

I believed him and many others for the longest time.

The thing was I loved to write. I love everything about the process. I never gave up on this dream and now I have a popular blog that has been read by over 1 million people. I don’t consider myself an amazing writer, not even a great one, but I’m definitely good and it helps me earn a living.

What matters is I love writing, it allows me to help people I care about, and it helps me grow my career.

My first job out of college I had a boss come in to help be the butter between the employees and the CEO. He loved me. He really wanted to help make me happy, but I didn’t know what made me happy. I coasted because it was easier than figuring out what I wanted out of my career.

I was never given tools to learn more about my own happiness in my own work.

“Life is filled with unanswered questions, but it is the courage to seek those answers that continues to give meaning to life. You can spend your life wallowing in despair, wondering why you were the one who was led towards the road strewn with pain, or you can be grateful that you are strong enough to survive it.” – J.D. Stroube, Caged by Damnation

I had to teach myself how to develop projects that excited me from within instead of following someone else’s guidelines. This was a painful process that after many years of trial and error, I finally got down and put into a guide.

I want you to start planting your own seeds in your mind.

Good questions do just that.

One seed could start a domino effect that can change your career in just a few months. When your passions, focus, and strengths align, change can happen very fast. That one seed could help you break out of the career box you might have put yourself in from long ago.

Use these 3 quality questions to unlock your happiness:

1. What stories do I tell myself that hold me back from doing great work?
2. What is one thing I can do right now that will make me happy?
3. Who can I offer to help that helps me build a stronger friendship?

Your career happiness is dependent on you. Your boss isn’t going to discover some hidden strength that helps you grow your career. He’s worried about his own career.

To take back control of your own career, you have to be willing to try new projects that will push you outside your comfort zone just a bit. When you create projects that help you build resume layers that also add to your happiness, growing it from your core values, and the best part is you’ll find it easier to be happy and do great work

Are you ready to start planting career happiness seeds to grow your career over the next year?

Trying Out a New Community Perk

Fun bonus for you

I want to keep things fun and lively around Work Happy Now. As you know I love helping people work happier and build connections. It’s why I wake up in the morning. Well, that and coffee and a kiss from my amazing wife and my silly hearted son.

Sometimes I get so caught up in helping my current clients that I forget to step outside my comfort zone. So I’m proposing over the next 3 months I’m going to give away one “pay whatever you can afford” career strategy session each month. It’s a $250 value. You’ll get an hour with me to ask me any questions you may have about how you can move your career forward so you can do more of the work you love.

If you can only afford $10 then that’s fine. The reason I’m choosing not to give them away for free is because when people pay something (anything, whatever they can afford), they are more likely to take this as an opportunity instead of a freebie. They will own the journey and take action on what we discussed.

I’ll give the money, however much you decide, to the Cancer Research Institute and Sierra Club Foundation. Both are close to my heart.

If it goes well and people love it then I might continue depending on how much time I have. I’m working on a big January launch and I have a baby due in 5 weeks, so I can’t promise I’ll extend it.

What do you think?

Does this interest you? If so just fill out this 5 minute form and you’ll be given the chance to win a “pay whatever you can afford” career strategy session for the month of December.

Thanks,

Karl

P.S. Stay tuned for a fun Black Friday offer. I promise you won’t have to wait in line to purchase this amazing deal.

How to Get Your Spark Back

Career Spark

One of the biggest mistakes people make is they stop attempting new challenges in their career. They coast and then start to hate their job.

The key to getting the spark back in your career is to look at how you view your work. I had a client who lost her spark and couldn’t find it.

She told me, “I don’t care if I get fired. No. I hope I get fired.”

I remember this conversation very vividly. I’ve been there.

I asked her, “Why don’t you quit?”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because I need to support my family.”

“So do you really want to get fired?”

“Well, no, but if I got fired I would be forced to find something better.”

“Could you do that right now?”

“Yeah, but…” she trailed off.

She was afraid of taking a big step. The big step of making a change.

We are all afraid of big steps. That’s why people who take little steps that add up to big steps are more successful. They see the first little step and take the step. They don’t see 12 little steps as one big step.

They take it one step at a time, and before they know it, they’ve gone 12 little steps and the first big step is accomplished. They can see what little step they need to take next.

They don’t see their big goal as something unattainable. They see their goal in little steps that when put together help them get close to their goal.

It’s why I tell clients to stop setting goals and create projects instead. If a project fails, they can toss it aside and create a new project. If a project succeeds, then they create the next project to help create another layer to support their greater vision.

The key is to layer each project so they build upon each other. A domino effect that adds to your career momentum and happiness.

Your work either supports or tears down your happiness. It’s up to you to take back control of your career and turn it into something that you want to share with your colleagues, friends and family.

I believe that we are all meant to do great work that helps people we care about. If we don’t do work that matters, then we stop trying to do great work. Meaning in our work matters. It’s important to find the connection that matters to you.

If you are looking to create a meaningful career that impacts people’s lives, I suggest you start with the email course that I have set-up call Unlock Your Career Passions. It’s helped thousands of people so far. You should probably join in on the career boosting fun if you haven’t already.

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.

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).