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?

The Art of Making a Simple “To Do” Lists so You Get More Done

to-do-list-arm-590

You want to accomplish so much each week, but many times you feel behind. This feeling of not being able to keep up can get us all feeling a bit depressed. We really try hard, but we just aren’t able to keep up.

Could it be that you feel behind because your expectations are too high?

Most of my clients think they are “behind”, but it’s because they want to be in a better place with their career. This is natural. If you didn’t strive for more and better, your business/career would fail.

But learning to understand and accept where you are is an important part of the process to grow your career or business. You can’t fast forward to greater success. You and I can only use one minute at a time to get our work done. This requires focused action.

And even if/when you get to that level of success that you only dreamed about, you’ll probably want to move forward to even greater success. We humans are strivers, which means that we want to keep improving and get better results. It is at least partially responsible for making us viable as a species.

Where or When Does the Wanting Stop?

Being satisfied with your position or success is difficult, and can even feel a bit wrong.

I get it. I still struggle with enjoying where I am because I also see how much more I want to accomplish. You accomplish an amazing project like writing a book and before it’s done you are probably thinking about the next book or next project.

So the key is to understand you are only one person, and there are only so many hours in a day.  And I hope you realize that not all of your time can be spent on work and also hope to stay sane or healthy or have good relationships or prevent burnout and loss of creativity.

I’ve tackled this “problem”, and I’m going to give you a quick explanation of how I’ve created my daily “to do” list to make my life better and more productive without going crazy..

As you probably know, I’m a big fan of lists because they help me keep track of what I need to get done, and they help me stay focused on doing the important work. I use Asana to keep track of my big “to do” list, and it’s a great free app.

When I get a “task” type email from a client or I need to follow up on an opportunity, I adjust the subject line, forward it to Asana under a special email address, and it automatically populates into my task list. I use Dispatch on my iPhone to help make this easier. The mail app that came with my phone didn’t have this capability.

Main List – Monthly List

I have a list in Asana that I can reference whenever I need to know what to do next. This list is mostly the major projects that I need to get done for my clients and myself.

I write down everything that I think will move my business forward. If I want to work on a book, I’ll put this on the list. If I notice that I keep avoiding a project, I stop putting it on my to-do list, and that goes on a document that has a list of all the major projects I might eventually like to work on.

I finished the Unlock Your Career Happiness guide because of this system. I chipped away at it every single week, so I mark off tasks in Asana as I complete them. It’s so close to being done, I can see the project finish line.

If you want to, you can actually check it out and see how it can help you improve your career and happiness by clicking here. There are some cool early buyer bonuses you can grab before I remove them for good.

The Art of the Daily List

I do a daily list on a small Post-it note. I pick 1 main project to work on and 3 tasks that support that project. Each task is a part of the project that will help me make the biggest impact in my career. This is where it can get tricky. I focus on this one main project for only 3 hours. The rest of the day might be dedicated to email, fun task, calls, etc.

I only schedule this high level work for 3 hours because it’s draining. I know that I’ll need a break to celebrate my hard work. Which is usually a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood. It helps me process this block of time while recharging my internal battery. You only have so much energy in the tank for high level work that’s why it’s good to get it done earlier in the day. If you put it off the type of work that grows your career might never get done.

If your “to do” list of 3 things for the day is too broad, and one of the items might take 1.5 days to accomplish, then you aren’t creating the type of list that will make you feel happy at the end of the day because you’re setting yourself to feel like a failure.

You need to make a list of 3 tasks that you can reasonably do within 3 hours. One might take 1 hours, another 30 minutes, and the other 1.5 hours. By making your list complete-able, then you are much more likely to feel happy when you have completed them all in one day, and then be at least a little happier and possibly more productive the next day. If your list is too comprehensive and too much of a stretch you are hurting your confidence and productivity.

But, here is where it can get fun, if you follow my suggestion below.

Underneath the 3 tasks, write something about how you will celebrate when you accomplish the task. If you do, you’ll reward your hard work, supporting your ability to build good work habits while also creating some external motivation that will layer on top of your intrinsic motivation. Of course you’ll need intrinsic motivation (curiosity for what will happen after you look at your finished tasks), but a little positive external motivation can make the process a little more fun. If the task is tedious it is hard to feel curious about the outcome.

For example I had to stuff thousands of marketing bags and my intrinsic motivation was very much lacking. I tried my best to understand my why, but by creating an extrinsic motivation like going for a quick walk after stuffing 2 boxes, approximately 500 bags I would be able to go relax and call my girlfriend, friend, brother, etc. It helped me finish up my 2 boxes a little bit faster than I otherwise would have been able to do.

By creating a fun celebration after each project, you are encouraging yourself to stay focused and follow through. You will notice that when you are curious about the outcome, then sometimes you might not even need to reward yourself afterwards. The natural reward of completing the task will be an adequate reward in and of itself.

Your Turn

How do you encourage yourself to stay productive at work?  Do you make simple lists, or do you have an even better technique for getting things done and feeling happy?

Use This One Thing to Boost Your Motivation

Be playful in your work

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

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

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

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

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

More Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 1Find your motivation object.

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

It could be a…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 3Bring yourself back to taking action.

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

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

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

Quick Tip

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

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

Your Turn

How do you get your motivation back on track when you

How to Create a More Productive Workspace

Messy Desk

Do you ever have to sort through piles of papers or folders to find the one you need?  Do you have to ask a coworker for a vendor’s phone number or business card again?  You know you have it somewhere…

I once inherited a workspace with a new job title.  That meant I also inherited the previous owner’s multiple stacks of… um, geesh, old receipts, expired insurance quotes, unfinished work and projects, spreadsheets, food wrappers, loose change, and I kid you not, hair accessories and nail polish.

I found uncompleted forms past their expiration dates, but I couldn’t find the current report my boss wanted!  It’s not possible to be your most productive if you’re working in an unorganized fortress made from sky-high stacks of paperwork.

The most organized and efficient person I knew always worked with her desk completely clear of everything except only what she was working on at that moment. Her office was so calm, serene and comfortable.

My new office was a hellhole of stress and inefficiency. So I took some deep breaths and went to work filing and organizing to make my space workable and efficient. Chaos produces stress, and order relieves it.

A clear and uncluttered workspace can make you more productive. Work will feel less overwhelming if you keep your space as uncluttered and organized as possible. It will give you a mental lift when everything is clean and clear, and you will be less likely to lose or forget anything important from getting buried!

Three Rules to a More Productive Workspace

1.  Improving Your Mindset

It is widely documented that taking periodic breaks from your work will recharge and reenergize you. It will actually help you to focus better and think more clearly, making you more productive.

It is important to take short breaks throughout the day to let your thoughts reorganize and declutter.  Just as your mind needs rest to be more productive, your eyes also need rest away from your computer screen, and your behind needs to get out of your chair!

Every day, try to take a short break in the morning and another in the afternoon just to walk around. If the weather is good, try to do it outside. There may be days that are just too busy when you can’t actually get away longer than to use the restroom, but there should be other days when you can do this.

Good physical health contributes to a sharp, organized and productive mind. Look for opportunities to move around more and stay in your chair less.

Using the restroom is a great opportunity for walking around. Is there a longer roundabout route you could take there? Can you take stairs to use the restroom on a different floor? Taking the stairwell instead of the elevator is a great way to get in a bit of exercise. Try taking an extra set or two of stairs if possible.

An easy way to clear your head and to keep from getting stiff shoulders is to take big, deep breaths from time to time and also get up and stretch (when no one is looking!) The little oxygen kick from deep breathing is great for energizing your mind, and the stretching is great for your circulation. You’ll immediately feel better each time. Remind yourself throughout the day to sit up straight and not slouch, too.

Try to eat outside on your lunch break whenever possible.  If you can’t get outside, you could take your lunch to your company’s break room if they have one and socialize. Physically getting away is best. But if that is not an option, perhaps you can close your office door. This is a rest break as much as a lunch break. If you don’t have an office, you can still swivel away from your desk and “escape” into a book.  The point is to get away from your work for a mentally healthy reprieve.

Takeaway:

Developing a mindset that allows you to stay fresh means taking breaks and moving your body. Find excuses as much as you can to take regular breaks to help you process all the information that you deal with every day.

2.  Organize Your Desk

Do you ever search for an item or note on your desk, shuffling through piles of papers looking for it? You know it’s there, but where? It’s frustrating, and it makes you seem less efficient.

To keep your desk space as clear as possible, try keeping office supplies in drawers or shelves. Dishes of paper clips and tape dispensers take up valuable real estate on your desk and make it appear more cluttered.  Return any items you use back to their “home” in their designated drawer, shelf or cabinet when you don’t need them. If your desk does not have drawers, you could get a small wheeled cart with drawers or shelves that you can push underneath your desk.

Keep an efficient filing system. (Remember the stacks of miscellaneous mess I inherited?  It took several days to completely overhaul the filing system.) The best way to start if you have a bad situation is a complete filing “makeover.” Begin by boxing up everything more than a year old and sending the boxes to a storage room. Then clearly label every folder and file them in drawers where every label is visible, neat and orderly. Remember: Chaos produces stress, and order relieves it.

At the end of the day, if there is any work you’ve completed that you have not already filed away, do it now. Then organize all the projects you’re still working on for the next morning by urgency or importance. Anything that still needs work, but you know you will not be doing it the next day, can go into a special file drawer. It will be handy when you need it, but not in your way or in danger of getting “lost” on your desk.

This system of clearing your desk each evening will keep you on top of everything, no matter that more work keeps accumulating during each new day. Each morning when you come into work, your projects for the day will be already laid out and ready.

Nothing will fall through the cracks with deadlines or being forgotten since you physically see what needs to be done every evening and every morning in a clear and organized way. You can always lay your hands quickly on any work without fumbling around through piles and stacks of folders.

Takeaway:

Clear your desk at the end of each day, so you start fresh every morning.

3.  Organize Your Email

I also recommend keeping your email inbox as empty as possible.  Without a system for clearing your inbox, you live in danger of forgetting to take care of something important and having it get lost in that sea of emails.

As soon as you can in the morning, begin clearing out email.  Once you reply or complete each email or the task involved with it, immediately delete it if you can.

For email tasks that should not be deleted, create folders for completed correspondence by category. If you are not confident to delete, you can move it into one of those folders. But get it out of your inbox when you’ve completed the reply or task. Then you’ll never have to worry you may forget to follow up on an email. If it is in your inbox, it needs your attention. Simple. If you need to retrieve an old email, you can use the search feature to easily find it without having it sit in your inbox, clogging it up.

Takeaway:

Put “to do” items from your email onto your task list, so you can clear out your email without having to look at emails multiple times.

Your Turn

What works for you? What are your favorite tips for organization and productivity?

* Contributed by Deborah Shelby who writes inspiration for a happier and better life at Prayerful Mom.

How to Complete Your Projects

Know Your Own Superpowers

One of my weaknesses is putting the finishing touches on a project. I can develop, design, write and create, but can’t put the “fancy” on a project that extra touch to make it shine.

I hired an editor to help me with the Unlock Your Superpowers Manifesto. It’s coming out very soon. I’m great with ideas and concepts, but not very good with finishing the product. I get bored and want to move on. So I make less money in the short run, but in the long run it’s paying off.

She helps me clean up, polish and put the bow on my projects.

Her superpowers complement mine and it’s worth every dollar.

The next step was to find a great designer. Once again I have superpowers in structure and layout, but not so much with colors and images.

I hired a local designer to help me create something beautiful. Something so special that people couldn’t help but want to share it with their friends.

This was only possible by understanding my superpowers, but also my project kryptonite.

You have superpowers that aren’t being used very well because you don’t have the right people around you. You need superheroes in your back pocket. Follow these steps to build your network so you can make growing your career easier and more fun.

I could use your help. Please fill out this 5 min survey. so I can help you become happier at work and unlock your career superpowers. If you fill out the survey, I’ll give you a sneak peak into the Unlock Your Superpowers manifesto.

 

1. Unlock Your Own Superpowers

A deep understanding of your own superpowers is a must before you begin reaching out to find other people to help you. When you understand what you do well, it makes it easier to exchange superpowers.

The key is to have a mix of passion, focus and strengths throughout your daily actions. You can read more about that here.

2. Learn Your Project Kryptonite

Every large project has certain tasks within it that weaken you. These are your project kryptonites.

You can usually spot a project kryptonite by how hard you try to avoid doing the task. For example I do not like editing. It’s hard enough to write something unique and interesting. I struggle with going back over posts and finding missing connection gaps and grammar errors.

This is where you need to leverage other people’s superpowers. You need to give these tasks to other people who enjoy the work and do a better job than you.

What tasks do you find yourself avoiding?

3. Ask people in your network for help

The key is not to directly ask them for help, unless you are really good friends. It can put both of you in an awkward position.

I suggest just asking them if they know anyone who can help you with your project, then they can volunteer themselves if they want to or offer up someone that might be able to help you.

You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by the quality of referrals that you will get from friends and family. No one wants to be the person who recommended a dud to you.

You can ask people directly or post on one of your social media accounts. I see this happen a lot in Facebook, especially for car mechanics.

4. Know the Value You Will Give in Return

If people help you with a certain part of your project, then the next part is understanding how you’ll reward them in return.

  • Do you pay them?
  • Do you thank them? (Depending on your relationship with them)
  • Do you offer to help them with a project?

There should be some kind of reciprocity that takes place.

When someone holds the door open for you, you smile and/or thank them. People want to know you appreciate their hard work.

The more time and energy they give you, the more important it is to show them your gratitude.

5. Set Up a Trial Period with Your Potential Superhero

Not everyone you think is amazing is a good complement to your skills. It’s best to test out the idea of working with them. When you ask them for help, make sure they understand that you are just working on a trial period.

I tested out a few editors before I found one that I clicked with. The other editors were very good, just not a good fit for me.

You might want to try 30 – 90 days. Whatever the trial period is, make sure you have enough data to understand if they are a good fit for you or not.

Try giving them different types of projects that challenge their superpowers in different ways. You’ll see whether they are a good fit for you or not very quickly.

Superheroes Are Everywhere

Friends, family, and co-workers can all be very helpful if you give them a chance to help you. Don’t be afraid to be clear about your expectations for a project. As long as everyone understands the goals, it makes for a much easier time working together.

Just ask for help and remember to reward them so they understand how appreciative you are. If you plan on making money from the project I would suggest paying the person. If it’s a hobby project, a small gift or heartfelt thank you can go a long way.

Your Turn

How do you find people with complementary superpowers to help you complete projects?

I could use your help. Start your own 30 Day Connection Challenge today! The resources are Please fill out this 5 min survey. so I can help you become happier at work and unlock your career superpowers. If you fill out the survey, I’ll give you a sneak peak into the Unlock Your Superpowers ebook (pages 1 – 5).

How to Exercise Your Vital Powers to Reach Excellence

Small-move-big-change-600

I was intrigued by the idea of microresolutions. It’s a great take on the concept of encouraging babysteps.

Today, I bring you the smart and interesting Caroline Arnold who has a book out called Small Move Big Change, Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently.

Karl Staib: What is one task that annoys you? How do you make it more enjoyable or at least tolerable?

Caroline Arnold: A task that annoys me is any task that is fundamentally uninteresting but not yet mindless.  Basically, most of our day is run by a kind of personal autopilot that is made up of behaviors and attitudes that have become entrenched through repetition.

Autopilot is mindless and efficient, you don’t have to think to tie your shoes, or lock the front door–autopilot does it for you.  Autopilot makes it possible to save your mental energy for the most important mental tasks:  problem-solving, decision-making, and self-control.  So, whenever I try to change an autopilot behavior through a microresolution, I find it very annoying, because it requires mental effort.  That’s true whether I’m trying to change a behavior like not saying “I told you so” to my spouse or learning a new behavior such as always leaving some food on my plate at every meal.  But I am able to get through the annoying and stressful part of building a new habit because my microresolution gives me  an immediate payback and by now I’ve worked through so many of these changes that I know that the behavior that annoys me today will become a mindless part of autopilot  in just a few weeks.  Any change causes some discomfort, but by focusing your willpower narrowly on a behavioral target, you can succeed every time, and success is enjoyable!

KS: Why are microresolutions so important to happiness?

CA: A lot of unhappiness comes from feeling that we are helpless to change ourselves.  The desire to self-improve is pretty basic to being human, and when we feel defeated in our efforts, it’s demoralizing.  Microresolutions are designed to always succeed, and that’s tremendously empowering.  Realizing that you absolutely have the power to change yourself is liberating and fulfilling.  I did it!  I actually changed myself!

KS: What is your favorite part of your job? Why?

CA: My favorite part of my job is brainstorming with my team and colleagues.  When the whole team is around the table creating something new, problem-solving, exchanging diverse points of view, and then establishing direction, I find that inspiring.  I also treasure those moments when we face obstacles or find ourselves in crisis and beat the odds by outperforming and through just plain HEART.

KS: How do you maintain harmony between your working and non-working life?

CA: I try to maintain as much of a routine at home as possible.  I make dinner every night, it’s very important me that we gather around the table and share a nice meal and the events of our day.  There are times when work issues makes it a late  dinner, and  times when I go back online to work afterwards, but the dinner hour is a real anchor in our family life.  Some people talk about work/life balance as if it’s something fixed, but It’s never settled–one is always tuning that dial in response to work needs, family needs, personal objectives.  When it comes to demanding jobs and family life, you have to draw your own line, no one will draw it for you.

KS: What is your favorite stress reliever?

CA: Laughing!   Nothing like a few yuks (especially at your own expense) to relieve pressure.  Walking is also an amazing stress reliever.  You experience the season, change your surroundings, rev your metabolism, clear your head, and it’s very meditative.

Frederich Nietzsche said that “all great thoughts are conceived while walking” and I have to say, I have thought through many a gnarly issue as I walked to work.  While I was trying to finish my book my husband gave me a foot rub every night, and that was an amazing stress reliever.  Makes me want to write another book!

KS: If you are feeling down, what do you do to lift your spirits?

CA: If she hasn’t ditched me for the day in favor of teen activities, I hang with my daughter Helen and that lifts my spirits.   Whatever I am grappling with, it pales beside the challenge of growing up and trying to shape one’s own future.  Kids are dealing with demands from every direction, but they are amazingly resilient and capable, and that’s inspiring.

KS: What is your biggest detriment to enjoying your work?

CA: Fatigue.  It’s hard to enjoy anything when you’re tired.  On the days when I don’t get enough sleep, I’m dragging by 2pm, and I hate not feeling top of my game.  There are many exciting projects and conversations to be a part of, but you if you have no energy to participate, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  Sleep is also essential to self-improvement efforts.

Willpower gets restored when you sleep and hormones essential for weight control only get balanced with sufficient sleep.  it’s really difficult to stick with a diet or fitness goal when you’re exhausted.  People spend tons of money on face creams to look younger — getting an extra hour of sleep will do far more for you.  I have a whole chapter on getting more sleep in Small Move, Big Change.   Sleep is like a secret weapon for those who appreciate and respect its power.

KS: What do you do to stay motivated and productive?

CA: Challenging work is, to me, the greatest motivator and makes me most productive in my job.  In my experience, people don’t burn out from challenging work, they burn out from highly political workplaces or relentless routine.  I seek out challenges for myself and for my team, and I find it tremendously motivating to see team members take ownership and nail these challenges with spirit and smarts (and outperform me).

KS: Why do you think someone should buy your “Small move, Big change” book?

CA: Small Move, Big Change is for people who want to be successful every time they make a resolution, period.  It’s about cracking the code on making a personal change that lasts forever.  Whether that’s losing weight, getting fit, arriving on time, improving relationships, getting ahead at work, getting more organized, saving more, or being neater — there is a small move you can make today that will improve your life right now and have far-reaching effects in the future.  The book teaches the art of achieving continuous self-improvement.

KS: If you could give work happiness advice to someone just starting their career in 140 characters or less (Twitter style) what would it be?

CA: I can’t improve on Aristotle who said, “Happiness is the exercise of vital powers along the lines of excellence.”  (What a tweeter Aristotle would have been!)

Find a job where you can give your all, your very best, every day.  Try to work your way into an organization with a vibrant work culture that supports personal growth, risk-taking, and rewards high performance, not political dexterity.  We spend the largest part of every week at work, so look for the opportunity that will stretch you and nurture your growth as a human being.  The best jobs are hard work and also a blast.

Caroline Arnold* You can check out Caroline Arnold website here and her new book on Amazon (affiliate link, which will help pay for my next cup of coffee), Barnes and Noble or visit an Independent bookstore near you.

Small Steps Every Single Day

This site is a passion project that I love so much. I’ve helped thousands of people work happier and eventually I want to offer books, courses, etc., but not yet. I’ve tried a few things, but right now I’m offering speaking and workshops, not products.

People need to know how important it is that they use their superpowers in their career and I feel lucky to have this conversation with people on a daily basis.

Right now most of my time goes to delivering great content and working on Domino Connection (customer connection company). Domino Connection brings in 95% of my revenue, so I try to spend at least 90% helping out clients there.

I still write about happiness there, but through a marketing lens. Like this post about the ROI of Delivering Smiles.

With that being said I still take small steps every single day to improve Work Happy Now, from publishing content to posting on WHN Facebook wall.

Ok, so this leads to I’m updating the website, so it’s easier to navigate and easier on the eyes.

I would really like your feedback.
[Read more…]

Day 19 of 30 Meditation Challenge – Slow Rocking Meditation

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Are you wondering what meditation has to do with an enjoyable career?

Good question!

Most career depressions are due to a lack of perspective.

We find ways to hate our jobs because we have annoying co-workers or a boss that doesn’t listen to us. These are only trigger points that show us hidden feelings inside of us. The mirror of difficult co-workers.

Meditation is a chance to watch where these self-destructive thoughts are coming from a meet them before they take over. I like to think of this as meeting your arch nemesis at the pass.

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The Shift is Happening

I meditated for 9 minutes on Thursday I noticed a very subtle shift in my challenge. I wanted to make my meditation break a little less stressful. I

By taking 1 minute off my meditation actually helped a lot. I felt less pressure and more joy.

I also rocked to my heartbeat.

It was a unique experience.

As my heart thumped I noticed that I was leaning ever so slightly forward. It was something I never experienced or noticed before. I was rocking to my heartbeat.

Taking the time to just sit and breathe is definitely more interesting than I thought it would be.

Tipping Point

As I’ve been adding meditation to my daily routine I notice a positive side effect of my challenge. My thoughts are a little easier to follow and less strong.

It’s a little easier to catch my anger before it takes over, slow my thoughts down and decide if I want to escalate my anger or not.

Yes, there are times I’ve actually escalated my anger. My son and I were out on a walk recently and he told me he peed his underwear. At first my anger took over than I caught myself. We’ve been working on this for the past 5 months. At first my reaction was it wasn’t a big deal. Then I knew that I needed to express my anger in a level-headed way so my son understood the importance of listening to his body and asking to go pee even when we are on a walk.

I was able to ride my anger at 10% capacity to get my point across in a very relaxed and stern way. It was an interesting experience that I hope to repeat very soon.

I got my point across, but was able to move on quickly and enjoy him and not hold on to my anger. This was all due to my meditation practice.

B. M. C.

Before meditation challenge began I understood the importance of following my thoughts, but never really understand on a physical level. Now I feel like this daily practice has allowed me to understand all the Buddhist books I’ve read over the years.

Your Turn

Should your company give employees time to meditate. What do you think? Would this help them become happier, more productive and compassionate?

Learn more about how meditation can improve your career:

New 30 Day Challenge! Meditation

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I recently owned up to a mistake I made on this blog. I apologized for my actions. You can read about it here.

As my mistake soaked in I realize how far I have yet to go to fully open up to who I am.

So…

I’m starting another 30 Day Challenge!

My last 30 day challenge I created the “realign my joy with my subconscious” challenge to help me understand and appreciate my everyday challenges that I go through.

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I’m starting a 30 Day Meditation Challenge.

I want to meditate every single day in October for at least 10 minutes. I’ve done research and most of the experts agree that 20 minutes is optimal.

This seems like a bit of a stretch for me. I practice Yoga, but 20 minutes while sitting still on a cushion is more than I can handle.

10 minutes a day seems doable and won’t stress me out.

The first step is picking a time that I will meditate every day. I have to find a time that fits my schedule. Make sure that I won’t have any clients to deal with, no webinars, etc.

The next step is set my alarm to go off every day at this time.

Then all that is next is taking the time to meditate.

I’m curious to how this will affect my productivity. Will it bring it down or will it increase it?

I’ll document all this on the blog, the Work Happy Now Facebook page and my @kstaib Twitter account.

I would really like for you to join in with me.

Do you think you could take 10 minutes out of every day to meditate and let us know how it makes you feel?

The more people we can get to do this challenge the better results we’ll see because we can keep each other accountable.

How to Make Innovative Ideas a Natural Process in Your Career

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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Judah Pollack of The Chaos Imperative

Recently in Edinburgh I sat down to enjoy a pot of afternoon tea. I had my pot-belly teapot, more than a splash of full fat cream, a scone, and across from me a series of pictures of J.K. Rowling. I had wandered into The Elephant House, the teashop where J.K. Rowling had begun writing the first Harry Potter book. To my left was the table where she wrote. As testament to how long ago it was, and how poor she was, there were pictures of her writing by hand in a notebook.

This image of J.K. Rowling working hard, writing everyday, is the one that has become famous.  It is an image of the typical 20th Century work ethic. But how did Rowling come up with the idea in the first place? What did her moment of insight look like? She was stuck on a train.

Her train from Manchester to London got stuck on the tracks for four hours and the young woman who had been writing stories since she was six was too shy to ask to borrow a pen when hers ran out of ink. There was nothing to do but stare out the window.

“I really don’t know where the idea came from,” she has said, “It came. Just came.” And it arrived “fully formed.”

“I was on the train when I suddenly had this basic idea of a boy who didn’t know who he was. He was a young boy attending a school of wizardry. It started with Harry, then all these characters and situations came flooding into my head.” J.K. Rowling has described the experience as Harry just walked into my head. And it was so unexpected that she didn’t even have a working pen.

Hard Work

The key here is that for all the hard work she put in after the fact the moment of insight came during her downtime. It came when she was staring out the window. In the book The Chaos Imperative, which I wrote with Ori Brafman, we call this downtime white space and it is an essential ingredient to the 21st century workday.

Why, you may ask. Because as our economy shifts from the creation of goods to the creation of knowledge we are asking that all of our workers be more innovative. And what the neuroscience tells us is that to be more innovative we need to spend more time in the white space.

Examples abound. Einstein discovered the first concept of his General Theory of Relativity, equivalency, while leaning back in his chair, arms above his head, taking a break from his work at the patent office. Like J.K. Rowling the innovation came in the white space.

Importance of Dreaming

Dimitri Mendeleev discovered the structure of the periodic table in a dream. The brilliant Indian mathematcician Ramanujan said his discoveries came to him in dreams. He credited the goddess Namagiri with writing the equations on his tongue and every morning he had the ritual of awakening and writing down his discoveries. Thomas Edison was famous for taking catnaps.

Sleep, daydreaming, spacing out, all of these inefficient uses of time in a production economy are becoming important uses of time in a knowledge economy. The reason is because white space is essential for optimal brain performance.

Take the beloved but endangered practice of napping. Researchers have found that the effects after a short 5-15 minute nap are almost immediate, people were more alert and their brains are functioning faster. The effects last for 1-3 hours.

A longer nap of thirty minutes caused a period of sleep inertia upon first waking up. But then people showed improved cognitive awareness for a longer period of time, up to a few hours. Longer naps of an hour or more are not beneficial. You’ll be happy to know the best time to grab a 20 minute nap is right after lunch.

White Space

But why does white space make us more innovative? The answer is a little part of our brains called the default mode network (DMN). The DMN is a network of about ten brain regions that deal with things from autobiographical memory to error prediction to future forecasting to translation of sensory information. When these disparate brain regions start talking to each other novel connections start to be made.

The DMN is your insight factory. But it doesn’t work when you are busy and on task. It works best and presents its information to you when you are in white space. That is why Rowling, Einstein, Ramanujan and Mendeleev all had their insights while not focusing on their work. If you want to be more innovative or you want your employees to be more innovative you have to create the white space for the DMN to flourish.

This means the most efficient systems now must have built in inefficiencies. How can you do that? It’s all about giving yourself downtime and shifting your focus.

Key Takeaways

  • Take a short nap after lunch. Sounds crazy but the research doesn’t lie
  • Take a short walk when you feel your energy lag
  • Watch a random YouTube video in the middle of the day
  • Meditate for five minutes in the middle of a project or between meetings
  • Help someone on a totally unrelated project to spark new connections
  • Start a new book and read a few pages during your breaks and before bed
  • Go to lunch with people and agree to not talk about anything work related
  • Play. Keep toys at your desk. Create physical, tactile input to your brain

 
The sudden appearance of innovative ideas is a natural process. When asked if anything like Harry Potter popping into her head had ever happened before J.K. Rowling replied, “Yes. Truthfully,” and then she laughed. “I mean, other ideas have just come to me. Ideas do come to you.”

When I sat down to write this post I drew a blank. So I got up and made a cup of tea. I mindlessly dunked my tea bag up and down in the water. Tea took me back to Scotland and that took me to The Elephant House and Harry Potter and I knew how to begin.

chaos-imperitive-125Judah Pollack is the co-author of The Chaos Imperative. You can check out his new book over at Amazon.com (not an affiliate link). You can also check out Judah’s TEDx talk here.

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