Why Taking Short Breaks More Often Will Make You Smarter

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Before I start a project I take a break. It could be a short pause with a deep breath or a quick walk to help me get my mind focused.

The worst thing anyone can do at work is start a project without looking at where to put their focus.

They jump in and make a ton of mistakes.

Lately I’ve been taking a Kermit the Frog dancing break. I swivel my arms from side to side and stamp my feet. It helps clear out the cobwebs that can form from focused work.

It helps that half my work week I work from a home office where no one can see me.

I don’t dance like Kermit the Frog at my co-working space. I might spin around in a cool swivel chairs walk down 7 flight of stairs and then back up.

Your energy is the most important resource that you have.

Time is great, but if you are exhausted you will never do great work.

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.

I would rather have an hour of high energy and focused work vs. 2 hours of tired and sluggish work.

You’ll also retain more of the information you learn in a day because you took the time to let it soak in and process.

Stop Pushing Through

Last week I jumped into writing a blog post and I got halfway through and I hit a wall. I didn’t know where to go next. Instead of pushing through I decided to take a break.

I went to the bathroom then made myself a mug of green tea.

The hard part is actually getting yourself to slow down before you start a project. Many of you don’t think you have the time to take a break before you start.

I thought the same thing, but with a little practice my breaks have helped me complete work faster then if I just jump in.

Next time you are about to do something difficult from writing a detailed email to analyzing data try taking a break.

Taking an active break is very simple.

Step 1: Take 3 deep breaths.

Step 2: Think about what you would like to accomplish in the next hour.

Step 3: Think about how to best accomplish your goal.

Then go for it. This Active Break could take 1 or 5 minutes, but it will help you make smarter decisions with your time. I’ve found that I actually am more energized because I have a vision for my next hour instead of just jumping in.

I can be impulsive with my actions. Like I said I get an idea and want to run with it. I don’t want to slow down my motivated momentum. Sometimes I will run with it and see what happens, but 99% of the time I end up hitting a wall. I used to try to power through.

Worst choice in that situation.

You can’t find a way through a brick way by ramming your head against it. You’ll just get blood all over the place.

So I’ve learned to take 3 deep breaths and step back from my work. I’ll usually go for a short walk. If I’m at my co-working space I’ll take the elevator down to the basement and walk up the 7 flights of stairs. If I’m at home I’ll walk out into my backyard.

The key is not to try to solve my problem.

You can’t fight a problem with more fire. You need an active break.

A break that helps you create emotional distance and see the problem from new angles.

Then the problem/project becomes easier to solve.

I would rather solve a problem/project in 2 hours than 4. I’m pretty sure you would too.

You’ve probably heard the phrase:

Work smarter not harder.

Here are a few weird breaks that I’ve done and seen other people do at work. :)

When I have my clients survey their employees. We use the DPS system. One comment that occurs again and again is that they aren’t encouraged to take breaks. If you want to learn how to survey employees at work so you can create more engagement and happiness, just let me know over at Domino Connection.

I believe active breaks are how to make this happen.

How do you use breaks to help you work smarter?

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

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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.

What’s Your Next Step?

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Many well-intentioned parents, grandparents, and teachers urge kids to get a job with good benefits.

I couldn’t agree more.

Except.

Except that when most people talk about “benefits,” they usually mean really, really good health insurance (with full dental!) and some sort of retirement plan that will take care of you when you’re put out to pasture.

When I was going through high school, trying to decide what I wanted to do in life, I got the impression that these specific benefits were very important. Even more important than liking the actual job I was doing to obtain said benefits.

That seemed backward to me. The idea of doing a job I hated (or only kinda liked) just for the so-called benefits made shooting myself out of a cannon into a brick wall more appealing.

Fortunately, my parents did support me as I gravitated toward a career in art that pretty much assured there would be no such benefits.

It blows my mind how many people make major life decisions based almost exclusively on this narrow view of “benefits.” They are willing to stay stuck in dead-end jobs that eat their soul just because they have a good vision plan. I think that a Cadillac health insurance program or generous vacation packages are fine factors to consider when hashing out the pros and cons of any potential job. But they should never be the only ones. And maybe not even the main ones.

The truth is that my job offers NONE of the benefits in the traditional sense. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. In fact, my job as an artist, author, and speaker, comes with TONS of benefits:

  • The work I do makes a difference.
  • I spend every day doing things I love.
  • I set my own hours.
  • I am rewarded for the results my hard work generates.
  • I don’t have to answer to clueless middle managers, corporate suits, or short-sighted shareholders.
  • I get paid to travel to cool places.
  • I have no dress code. (I literally wear jeans or sweatpants every day.)
  • I can take time off whenever I want. (Kim and I were BOTH able to take a maternity leave when our kids were born.)
  • On most days, I get to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with my family.
  • My daily commute is seven seconds long.

Now these benefits don’t come without a price. (In fact, ALL benefits come with a price of some sort.) Most of mine have required many years of hard work and persistence. Then there’s the pressure of being responsible for generating income (no sales = no groceries). Also, I don’t have a pension or company-matching 401k program, but I love what I do so much that I don’t envision ever really retiring. Oh yeah, and I have to pay a few hundred bucks a month for health insurance.

Totally worth it.

So yes, you should definitely have a job with benefits.

Just make sure they’re the ones you really want.

Do here is what you can do.

Write out a list of at least ten benefits you’d like in your idea job. They could be things like a good health plan, zero commute, freedom of schedule, relaxed dress code, doing work that matters to me, lots of variety, etc. Then decide on the three most important benefits to you and circle them.

If your current job has all three, great! You’re in a good spot. If not, your next step is…to decide what your next step is. I know that sounds flip, but on the road to our dreams, we rarely know ALL the steps we’ll need to take to get there. We often don’t even know the next three. But we always know the NEXT step (and it’s usually not to just quit your job!)

Get a little curious about about what you could do to bring more benefits to your career. It’s your curiosity that will drive your next step. Maybe it’s to make a phone call. Buy a book. Attend a conference. Or design a new logo. Do that, and the next step will materialize.

What’s your next step?

Jason Kotecki is an artist, professional speaker, and author of the book “Penguins Can’t Fly +39 Other Rules That Don’t Exist,” (Amazon link) which uncovers some of the most useless so-called rules we can find ourselves living by. It explores some small but mighty actions you can take to turn your life into the fun, adventurous and exciting story you deserve. This beautiful 240-page hardcover work of art is a magical combination of Jason’s whimsical illustrations, humorous wit, and poignant anecdotes. Learn more at RulesThatDontExist.com.

Why Does Your Work Experience Trump Income Level?

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Millennials don’t want new cars, furniture, or artwork. Why do you think this is?

Think about your best times at work.

Does it ever revolve around kicking back on your chair and looking at your bank statement?

Not usually, unless your Scrooge McDuck.

It revolves around the positive experience that were created when working on a difficult project and finding a unique solution or getting together with your your co-workers after work or other experiences that make you happy.

Think about the last job you had. Do you remember the experiences or how much money you made each day?

Experiences are the glue that connects us.

Are you creating positive experiences for your younger workforce?

Experiences that help them build relationships and feel a sense of pride in their work?

Millennials don’t want to spend their money on experiences, which makes sense. Experiences create more happiness because they teach us versus just being another thing in our lives.

The more I’ve led workshops and coached leaders in the workplace the more I know in my bones that we need to create more positive experiences at work. We need to feel like our work matters. That our time isn’t being wasted.

I decided to create the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stress overload. Leaders can bring a more positive experiences into the workplace and improve engagement if they have help.

Here is the one of the module in the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit:

Create Mentorship Program

Create cross pollination of ideas by creating a mentorship program. Gather everyone in a room. Put people’s names in hat. Make sure to pair people who were unable to come. 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’s 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 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 and if they don’t, they feel like a failure.

The first session is a discovery session for them to build a rapport with each other. The 2nd, 3rd, and 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. Even numbers are important to pairing people up. Put everyone’s name in excel sheet and people pick number. They will set-up meetings each week over the phone until the end of the month. Each person will be given 15 minutes to talk at each session.

Questions to ask each other: (first session)

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

Questions to ask in mentorship sessions 2-4:

  • What is going well with your goal/project?
  • What can be improved?

Review Questions:

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

This is just a sample of the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stressed out employees to help you improve your team’s engagement and communication. It gives you 6 modules to try out with your team or yourself. It has 3 main sections –  2 Team building ideas, 2 Team games, and 2 Individual Practices you can incorporate each month to help reduce overwhelm and build a stronger team.

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.

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

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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?

How to Be a Better Gift Receiver

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I was called out by my wife, again, for being a “bad gift receiver”. She is right. I need to be more grateful.

I got mildly upset because a Christmas gift we received last year was slightly different from the one that was on the list. Same thing, just a different brand. This gift was for my son, and he loved it, yet I’m still complaining about it 12 months later!

Yes, I hang my head in shame.

Have you ever done this?

I play it off as a joke, but the reality is I looked at the gift as a hindrance instead of what it was, a gift. A gift from a place of kindness and joy.

I want each gift to be perfectly tailored, but that’s impossible. Just the idea that someone is thinking of me or my son is all that should matter.

No one should have to be worried about giving me or my family a gift because I’m such an ungrateful nerd. People should be excited to give us a gift because of how excited and thankful we all will be.

I’m working on this, and my goal now is to replace every negative thought, right after I notice it, with two positive thoughts.

The reason I’m writing this is because I was recently given a business referral from a good friend. She asked yesterday what I thought of the email referral, and I was about to write back that it was wonderful, but a little too long.

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

Then I stopped myself. She created this referral from a place of kindness and giving, and I was about to poo poo all over it with a “but” comment.

Then I heard my wife’s voice in my head about being a bad gift receiver, and I realized I could change that. So I wrote back:

Thank you so much! It was an amazing referral. Perfect!

You know what happened?

I felt so much happier after sending a positive thank you in response. My bad habits may die hard, but I’m not going down without a fight. My hope is that I live long enough to turn into a great gift receiver!

Importance of Gratitude

Your success and happiness depends on other people helping you, and the more grateful you choose to be, the more people will want to help you.

The key is knowing where you are making a mistake and creating “bad” feelings, and replacing a bad habit with a better habit that makes you – and other people – feel happier.

My Challenge to You

Pick just one habit you would like to create or improve. What would it be?

  • Start a meditation practice.
  • Be more thankful.
  • Go to bed earlier.

Then pick one super small way to practice over and over until you create a better, happier habit.

Another example: I wanted to start a meditation practice. I knew it would benefit my health and help make me happier. I was so right. I started with a 2 minute meditation practice after I finished up my work for the night and before I would watch my favorite show. Now I’m up to 10 minutes a night and I love it.

The key here is picking a time and place. You will be 90% more likely to build a positive habit if you are specific with when and how. If you can envision how you will accomplish the task then it’s easier to see yourself actually doing it, which means you won’t procrastinate. You’ll take action. Here is a cool article from Jenny Blake about creating magnetic personal project. When you start small, with a personal project, it can turn into something bigger. You never know.

What positive habit would you like to improve or add to your life that would make you happier?

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?

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.

30 Healthy Rewards to Boost Your Happiness

holding-dove-dark-chocolate

Last week I was struggling to do a few simple tasks. I laid my head down on my desk and sighed. The two tasks weren’t a lot of fun, but I needed to get them done.

So instead of forcing myself to do them I decided to take a kinder self-approach. If I finished the first task I would take a 10 minute walk. If I finished the second task I would get myself a piece of Dove dark chocolate.

It’s important to remember it’s not just the reward that you give yourself for doing a difficult task. It’s how you use it to recharge your internal battery. A difficult task can drain your energy and if you don’t savor the reward it’s not benefiting you as much as it could.

Once I finished my task I grabbed the Dove dark chocolate piece, unwrapped it, and mindfully placed it on my tongue. I let it sit their for 3 deep breaths then chewed it. It made up for the tedious task. It also gave me some energy for my next task.

External rewards are really good for tasks that don’t have a lot of internal motivation. So if you can’t get yourself excited about a tedious task try these little “carrot” type of rewards to help get your happiness and productivity back on track.

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

Reinforcing good habits is paramount to building habits that help you stop procrastinating and taking action on work that needs to get done.

1. Take a short walk.
2. Write down 5 things you are currently grateful for right now.
3. Have lunch with a friend.
4. Eat a piece of dark chocolate.
5. Take a 20 minute nap.
6. Drink a really good cup of tea.
7. Do a quick celebration dance to your favorite song.
8. Call a friend for a few minutes.
9. Share your hard work on Facebook.
10. Go work in the park for an hour.
11. Do a smile session. Think of someone you love and smile. Repeat this 10x. (Best to do this in an empty room so you don’t scare anyone.)
12. Buy a small gift for yourself.
13. Make a thank you card for yourself so you can read it at the end of the month.
14. Go get a massage.
15. Watch a funny clip on YouTube. (Search “ultimate dog tease or office pranks”)
16. Read some of your favorite quotes.
17. Eat a ripe piece of fruit.
18. Drink a glass of wine or beer. Good for weekend tasks. :)
19. Buy a sandwich for a friend.
20. Write a poem to a loved one.
21. Meditate for 10 minutes
22. Play a board game with a friend.
23. Offer to do a boring job for a friend to help them and you appreciate your work.
24. Go “old school” and use a pen for the next half hour.
25. Put underwear on your head and sing the song, “I am awesome.” (This might not be in the healthy or do at work category, but it should release some endorphins after you crack yourself up.)
26. Play your favorite game for the next 20 minutes. (Set a timer so you don’t over do it.)
27. Email a friend thanking them for all their support.
28. Bake banana and raisin cookies for yourself and the office.
29. Move the furniture around in your office to make it more Feng Shui friendly.
30. Make a list of the next 5 people you want to build a friendship with to grow your community.

You can alter or change these healthy rewards to fit your personality. Remember to not repeat something too often. If you reward yourself with a piece of chocolate after every little tedious task that you complete your waistline might not be very grateful for you increased productivity.

What type of small reward would you add to the list?