10 Ways to Find Career Happiness

Career haze

Even on good days your career can seem a bit hazy. You’re not sure what your next step will be.

That’s natural.

It’s happened to all of us. We start a career with the best of intentions, planning to give it our all and to find fulfillment. Then, for one reason or another, it doesn’t happen. When your career is lacking in the meaning department, you’ll likely start to lose your sense of purpose and your drive to give it all you can. In the end, nothing positive can come from this situation.

I’ve been there. I went to a great college — Penn State — enjoyed my time there and did my best. After graduation, I moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to pursue my career. I landed — what I thought — was a great job and couldn’t wait to get started. This was the type of position that would look great on a résumé and would really help me move forward in life. Then, reality hit.

A few months into the job I realized that I was “just getting by.” I was punching the time clock and doing what was required of me, but I was starting to feel limited in my position, hampered by my cubicle. I needed something new. I chose a better opportunity and path in marketing and started a side gig as a freelance writer. I found my passion in these areas, starting a blog — Punched Clocks — to share my advice with others who are navigating the work world while trying to achieve happiness and success in life and in their careers.

For me, finding career meaning meant switching jobs and taking control of my career. For you, it might be a different avenue. Try one of the 10 ways to find career meaning where you wouldn’t think to look if you’re feeling stuck in the same rut I was:

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

1. Practice Gratefulness

Here’s the thing. Even if your job isn’t what you hoped, or if you’re struggling to find meaning, there’s still a silver lining: You have a job. 8.3 million Americans are currently unemployed and actively searching for work. 2.1 million of these individuals have been searching for over 27 weeks — that’s almost 7 months. Sometimes, finding meaning is as simple as examining the world around you and being grateful for what you have. It might not be ideal. It might not be what you’re looking for long term, but it’s paying the bills. Remind yourself of this next time you’re ready to turn in your notice on a whim.

2. Identify the Real Problem

What’s driving your perceived lack of meaning? If you cannot identify this issue, you’ll likely to fall into the same rut regardless of what career or position you find yourself in. So many times we hear — and maybe say — “I’m not happy at work,” or “I have no purpose in my job,” but what’s underneath that discontent?

Ask yourself honest questions to find the real problem. Could your discontent be related to:

  • A sense of dissatisfaction with your actual role?
  • The fact that you’re working in a field that doesn’t match your passion?
  • The idea that you find yourself longing to set your own schedule and to be your own boss?
  • Finding yourself thinking of a different passion while you should be focusing on your job?
  • Feeling undervalued for the job you’re doing?

These are deeper issues than feeling as though you should be paid more or a simple sense of frustration. If you can’t identify the real problem, you’ll have a hard time finding meaning, no matter what you do.

3. Build Relationships

If you find yourself punching in at 9 and out at 5, sitting in your cubicle and performing the tasks that are required of you without going above and beyond in any way, you’re likely missing out on an important part of your workday: relationships.

Many employees list relationships with co-workers and managers as two of the top ten contributing factors for career satisfaction. What do you know about Peg in the cubicle across from yours, other than what she eats for lunch daily? Maybe finding meaning in your career means looking outside of yourself to those around you. When we’re stuck in a place where we are our only focus, it’s likely to get lonely. Put time into getting to know those around you to brighten each day and to give a little more meaning to what you do.

4. Work Together to Make a Difference

Once you’ve established a few solid working relationships, maybe it’s time to work together to make a difference. When you invest in the lives of others in a tangible way, you’re likely to feel more fulfilled yourself.

Look around for local charities. Start a clothing drive at work. Sign up for a 5k that benefits a special cause and make team shirts, or find another way to get involved in your community. Work together to brighten someone else’s day.

5. Enhance Your Personal Abilities

Maybe you just feel stuck. You feel like you could be achieving more, but you lack the training or skill set to make it happen. Perhaps, like me, your real passion lies somewhere else — in another field altogether. In this case, it’s time to enhance your personal abilities. Sign up for a few online continuing education courses. Consider going back to school to pick up a different degree, or look for seminars offered by local professional organizations. Maybe to find meaning, you just need a little extra training.

6. Stop Depending on Your Job for Meaning

Too many people find themselves in a place where their sense of meaning is linked solely with their job. There should be meaning there, but it should also lie elsewhere. What you do outside of work is just as important. To find meaning elsewhere, consider:

  • Investing in your family. How could you work to make your spouse or children happier?
  • Setting new goals outside of work, starting a fitness regimen or taking a cooking class to find pride elsewhere.
  • Joining a community organization and finding ways to contribute.

Or, try something else altogether. When you feel more fulfilled outside of work, the feeling will likely carry over to working hours.

7. Improve Upon What You Do

Here’s the thing: If you’re doing only the bare minimum to get by, you’re probably under-achieving. How could you improve upon your current role?

Sit down with your manager to discuss options for improvement. Perhaps changing a few processes, changing a few responsibilities or improving on how certain tasks are completed could improve your attitude and your actual position. This type of initiative could even lead to promotions down the road.

8. Track Your Progress

If you feel as though you’re just getting by and just punching the clock, perhaps you’ve lost track of what you actually accomplish each day. Start a portfolio to remind yourself. Not only will this help you track your progress, but it may help in future job searches.

Collect pieces you’ve worked on. Gather metrics from campaigns in which you’ve played a part. Print out screen shots, and do whatever else it takes to prove your value. Keep a journal that helps you reflect on the good and what you can improve about your career. When you see how far you’ve come, and what you’ve actually done to make a difference, you may start to find more career meaning than ever before.

9. Take On New Responsibilities

While this goes along with improving upon what you do — see # 7 — it also takes it to the next level. If you’re the type of employee who regularly avoids speaking up at staff meetings, volunteering for task forces and taking on new projects, you might be stuck in a rut.

To find meaning, consider challenging yourself by committing to new responsibilities on the job. This effort could help you improve upon working relationships while helping you find something new to be passionate about. What responsibilities have you been avoiding that could help you take your career to the next level? If you’re not sure where to start, ask your manager for ways to take on new responsibilities. Pay attention in your next meaning, and read company-wide emails looking for individuals to commit to various projects. You might just surprise yourself in the meantime.

10. Look Elsewhere

If all else fails, maybe you’ll find yourself in the same place I was — somewhere that cannot be improved and where you’ve done all you can to find meaning. If you’re here, there’s no reason to stick around. You owe it to yourself to find something different. Remember to identify what the problem was in your old role and to look for positions that will give you the opportunity to improve. That way, you’ll avoid falling into the same rut once again.

Your career is a part of who you are. It’s what helps you live a fulfilling life and where you spend a large number of your waking hours — 18.5% over a lifetime according to one study. Are you wasting your time due to a lack of fulfillment and a lack of meaning? Start with the ideas listed above to make a difference. You deserve to lead a fulfilling career, and the time to act is now.

Your Turn

What have you done or seen at work that has helped people build career happiness?

Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping others find happiness and success in their careers. Follow her for more inspiring tips at @SarahLandrum

Take 11 Deep Breaths Before Work

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

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

Your breath is the most important part of your day. 

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

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

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

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

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

How:

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

Focus on:

Your breath.

When:

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

What I like:

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

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

Why 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?

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.

5 Powerful Questions Every Boss Should Ask Herself

What can I do to bring more happiness to my employees?

There is one aspect of my work that makes me so amazingly happy I feel blessed to be doing what I’m doing. I think this is an overlooked part that we don’t see because we are so busy with our own lives and careers.

We get to work with people who want to be happier.

You can probably say the same thing for at least 90% of your co-workers. Some of them probably want to stay miserable, but for the most part most of them want to be happier. Helping them bring more happiness into their lives is vital to growing your career.

The thing that makes my job fun is that happiness and productivity go hand in hand. A happy employee is much more productive than an unhappy one.

“A happy workplace can increase sales by 37%” (Martin Seligman from Psychology Today)

“A happy workplace can decrease burnout by 125%.” (Harvard Business Review)

The hard part is harnessing this happiness. Employee happiness can feel so elusive

One of the most interesting questions I get from employers is how does work happiness improve the bottom line.

ROI is important, I get it.

You want to make sure that employees are happy, but you also want the best results for your business.

Quick Story

I had a friend who works for an amazing company. They follow many of the work happiness rules, they give free drinks and candy to employees, they have a slide, they bring in speakers, and they give their employees a flexible work schedule.

The problem is they fall in the same trap that most technology companies do. They want happy employees, but they don’t work on the fundamentals. The stuff that shows employees that their work matters a lot and empowers them to create better results. Employees want to see their hard work matters. They want to see progress.

If your company is just throwing great perks at you then your company culture will suffer. They must give tools to employees that want to improve the company.

You give me a piece of dark chocolate and I’ll be happy for a few minutes, but then I’ll go back to my normal mood. It’s a quick fix for the moment, not a long-term solution.

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

Improving your happiness at work is not a quick fix. It’s long-term thinking that helps employees feel happy and stay happy. This is where progress is vital to every employee.

Does your company keep doing the same things over and over to try to bring more happiness to your workday?

Little Steps

What really needs to happen is working with employees’ emotions to help encourage them to build better relationships, do work that matters to them, and improve their results. There are no quick fixes when it comes to emotions. It all starts with listening to employees and their opinions of what needs to happen to improve the company.

This concept has been going on for ages. The blacksmith that encourages an apprentice to share his ideas with him is someone that learns from his apprentice to make his business better.

I call this the Flying V.

You’ve probably seen the V formation that geese use as they migrate to warmer or colder climates, depending on the season. They use this formation to help support each other through the journey. One goose takes the brunt of the wind (friction) and creates the starting point for the draft that all the other geese benefit from as they fly behind.

One goose doesn’t fly at the front for the whole journey. When he gets tired, he’ll drop back and let someone else take the lead. They trade off to support each other through the journey. It’s this technique that allows them to fly further together.

Most companies should utilize this same principle. Each employee knows his job well, but many times isn’t utilized to their full extent. They don’t require their employees to help support the company with their ideas. They follow the head geese (CEO, COO, CFO, etc.) ideas, implement their strategies, and feel underutilized.

The C level executives should be dropping back from time to time to rest and let other employees support the larger mission of the company.

The idea is a simple one, just ask employees for the best ways to improve the company. The hard part is implementing this within an organization. I talked with a client who was the head of HR that struggled to actually make time to listen to their employees’ suggestions.

They liked the idea, but were stuck in their old habits.

As a leader it’s your job to break these old habits.

If you are a leader at work you have to ask yourself some powerful questions:

  1. What can I do to be happier?
  2. What can I do to help employees build stronger relationships?
  3. Am I eliminating obstacles for my employees?
  4. Am I asking for feedback from my employees?
  5. What can I do to empower my employees to utilize their passions?

The first question is one that many managers forget to ask themselves. They think their happiness doesn’t matter to their employees, but it truly does. Happiness is contagious. If you are happy, your employees will be happier too.

The best part is that it’s mutually beneficial to everyone to bring more happiness into the workplace. Happy employees are more engaged, so you have their actions heading in the right direction. That’s the beauty of happiness. It’s easy to get them taking action on the right things because this is where the best results come from.

I have a step-by-step process that I’ve come up with through years of research, testing, and coaching. It’s called the “Happy Employees” program. It’s in BETA and I would love to talk with you if you are interested in bringing more happiness to your team. You can click here to learn more and we can set-up a quick chat to see if I think my program will help you and your employees.

You can click here to learn more. It explains what it takes to bring the Flying V techniques to your company so you can bring more happiness and engagement to your employees. If you are an employee and think your company can benefit from these ideas then send them on to your boss. It’s at least a good way to spark a conversation.

10 Ways to Make this Year the Best Year Ever

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Let’s get real right now. You are probably reading this because you aren’t as happy as you could be with your career. You made mistakes last year that you regret. Oh, I’ve been there, plenty of times. Just last month I can think of 5 mistakes I would like to take back.

This year could be the most amazing year ever if you can put a few systems in place. The hard part is not just taking action, but growing your career so your actions create a domino effect that creates more freedom, happiness, and increased income over this year.

I wrote this post because I had a conversation with a friend. He told me he had so much bad luck last year that he just lost his motivation. Luck plays a role in every career, but good luck only happens when you put yourself in the right spots.

Let’s look at what you need to do to make sure you grow your career in the right direction this year:

1. Believe in your talents.

You have talents that others wish they had too. You are where you are in life because of your ability to leverage these talents. Don’t let one bad day or month stop you from believing in yourself. Take the time to remember the good results you’ve been able to accomplish because of your hard work and talent. Reflecting on the positive aspects of your talents will help you remember why people need your help.

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.

2. Celebrate more.

Too often we finish a difficult project and don’t take the time to celebrate our hard work. You need to take more time to celebrate when you work hard on a project. You deserve the reward. You’ll be reinforcing this positive behavior as well as giving yourself a stress relief break that you could use to recharge your internal battery.

 3. Give help when you can.

Improving your career and getting better results for your company (or if your own your own business, your clients) requires a team effort. You can’t do it alone. So remember to give back to people who’ve helped you over the past year. Write them a thank you note, offer to help them with a project, or just jump in and assist if you see they could use your help. This is a great way to build stronger relationships.

4. Recharge your battery.

You only have so much energy to use on high level work. No one can go and go and go. You need to recharge that beautiful brain and body that needs your love. Next time you hit an energy wall don’t power through. Take that time to recharge. Go for a short walk, call a friend, or grab a refreshing drink. Use that time to reset yourself and bring your focus back to doing the work that will grow your career.

5. Appreciate what you have. (AKA gratitude)

You have a finite amount of waking time each day. You can focus on the good or bad. When you appreciate what is good about your life you release endorphins that make you happier. Give this a quick try. Try thinking about 3 things you are grateful for. How does it make you feel? Now try thinking about 3 things that make you miserable. How do you feel? See how this affects your attitude? Your mindset truly does matter.

6. Say yes to challenges that help you grow.

You have the same three options that we all do. You can choose growth, maintaining, or shrinking. It’s really your choice. The only option that I believe is viable is growth. Think about your favorite band. They didn’t settle for that one hit and ride it out. They kept trying to improve on their music. This is the mindset that you need to bring to your career. As long as you know where your comfort level is and how to push slightly past it then you are growing. You may take more of a Turtle approach like me, or you may be more like Tim Ferriss who takes a rabbit approach. Both are good. Both lean toward growth, just at their own pace.

7. Say “no” to tasks that don’t excite you.

Your time is important. You can say “yes” to projects that just don’t light you up inside or you can learn to say “no” to projects that don’t excite you. It is that simple. Really. You just have to learn how to say “no” so people don’t get upset. This is where the gray area comes into play. Instead of just saying “no” try giving the person an alternative solution. You can suggest someone else who is better suited for the particular task, which can make you look good if they deliver great results. If you take this approach, be sure that you follow by offering yourself for a task that suits your strengths. Or you can change how the project is being done so you can leverage more of you strengths, which can help you get even better results.

8. Know that you can make a BIG difference in people’s lives.

You are here on this earth not to just get by. You are here to thrive. You are here to make an impact on others. Don’t believe that you can’t make a difference. If you start to believe this then you’ll start to pull back from helping others. There are an infinite amount of ways you can help others while also growing your career. I believe in win-win scenarios and if you can help people who you admire while also building your network then they win and so do you. That’s a career domino effect that creates layers that you can build upon.

 9. Ask for help when you are struggling.

We all struggle at times. We all have our doubts, but the people that we surround ourselves with can truly make a difference. When you need help, you need to learn to reach out to these people. Find someone who can point out a fresh perspective, or someone who sees something inside of you that’s hidden deep. Go to these people when you are in pain and be clear about how you need help. You just need to make it as easy as possible for them to help you.

10. Visualize where you want to take your career, break it down, and start doing it.

This last one is maybe the most important for most of you. You must understand your “why” before you can take action in your career. If you are wishy-washy you won’t get stuff done. You have to live your core values and know how each task and project helps you grow stronger if chosen well. I struggled to put together a guide that encapsulates my beliefs. I resisted for years because I was afraid. When I finally let go and visualized how my guide would make people’s lives better, the actions became much easier. I focused on my purpose instead of my fears. I stopped trying to motivate myself, and instead I focused on helping people who mattered to me. By helping others find meaning and happiness in their work, I was also able to find meaning in mine.

I’m not perfect and neither is this list.

So…

What advice would you add to help others be able to make this the best year ever? (Just leave a comment and let’s help each other grow.)

* I’m curious to how you feel about your career and how I can help make it better. If you have 5 minutes I would really appreciate it if you filled out this quick survey. Thanks!

7 Habits of Healthy, Happy, and Productive People [Infographic]

If you believe in the idea that a positive and happy person is also a productive and healthy person, you probably have attempted to take some steps to achieve that idea. As with anything in life, though, making lifestyle changes isn’t as easy in theory as in practice.

Taking steps to make yourself happier has to become something you incorporate into your daily life until it becomes a habit.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps that will make you a happier person, whether at work or at home.

Exercising

Long-distance runners describe the “runner’s high” after several miles, which is a surge of energy and confident feelings that chases away the exhaustion and pain from the run to that point. The good news is you don’t have to necessarily run several miles to receive a similar feeling.

Any form of exercise outdoors, from walking to running to cycling, can release the endorphins in the brain that provide the feelings of revitalization and happiness, while releasing tension. A company that can provide encouragement for its employees to exercise, whether through providing time in the workday or providing some sort of incentive, will almost certainly have happier, healthier employees down the road.

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.

Volunteering

Another great way to encourage feelings of happiness and gratefulness in employees at work is to provide an opportunity for volunteerism. Some companies will encourage employees to take a couple of hours out of the work week to give back, whether it’s at a local school, hospital, or other organization.

Thinking back to the “runner’s high” discussed earlier, many people who volunteer receive similar benefits and feelings in what’s called a “helper’s high” achieved through volunteerism. In fact, some of the overall benefits for the volunteer are similar to what’s achieved through exercise, including better physical health and less tension and negative feelings over time.

Teamwork

Having employees work together as a team to achieve a goal almost certainly will create more feelings of satisfaction and happiness among them. Being able to count on coworkers on a team project can cause them to count on each other in other aspects of the workday and outside the office, too.

One key to creating teams of people who work well together is to teach them how to listen properly. As the infographic below shows, four keys to learning how to listen properly are:

  1. Maintain eye contact
  2. Don’t cross your arms
  3. Avoid distractions, such as from a smartphone
  4. Occasionally paraphrase what the other person is saying to show you understanding what’s being discussed

Fun Time

All work and no play makes the office a pretty dull place to be. It also puts a significant dent in the work the employer has done to try to build the level of happiness for employees through the steps outlined above.

Finding ways to help your employees laugh at work and be happier is a good idea. Certainly, the office is designed to be a serious place most of the time. But there’s no reason employees can’t be encouraged to have time for laughter too.

Laughter releases endorphins in the brain, and these will reduce stress for the employees. People who laugh together also tend to build social connections over time that will help with the teamwork aspect of the office described earlier. And having employees who are closer to each other and who connect with each other better will lead to improved productivity, which is a great benefit for any employer.

Healthy-Habits-590

This infographic was provided by Mark Kirkpatrick.

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.

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?

101 Tips to Make Work More Fun

Tip to make work more fun Too often we forget this simple rule:

Fun is a necessary part of life.

When work is fun, you are doing great work and, you don’t dread work, you look forward to it. You look forward to laughing, sharing, and growing. Now that’s motivating! So let’s look at a lot of different ways to make your work more fun.

  1. Blast your favorite song. (Put on your headphones first if you need to be considerate of others.)
  2. Make a game out of doing a tedious task. (Make it a race against the clock or someone else, or the fewest mistakes and the winner gets a free lunch.)
  3. Find one super small reason to be excited about a boring project.
  4. Write in your gratitude journal.
  5. Invite a new co-worker out to lunch.
  6. Bring a dessert for your boss or a co-worker.
  7. Go out and buy a perfectly ripened piece of fruit and eat it at lunch.
  8. Give a small gift to all your co-workers.
  9. Write an email to a co-worker explaining how awesome they are and why you think they are the greatest person in the company.
  10. Come up with a wild idea for the advertising department even if you aren’t in their department.
  11. Buy donuts for everyone.
  12. Share your favorite moment from childhood with a friend.
  13. Bring in apple juice for everyone.
  14. Find an awesome joke online, memorize it and tell it to everyone.
  15. Don’t wear any underwear.
  16. Offer to help organize your boss’ or a co-worker’s office.
  17. Bring in freshly brewed sun tea.
  18. Make 10 people a copy of your favorite music.
  19. Have a paper airplane contest. Whoever’s plane goes the farthest gets an extra 15 minute break.
  20. Make today the day where you say “yes” to everything.
  21. Find one project you truly love working on and do it for at least an hour a day (even if you have to create a new project).
  22. Take 10 deep breaths.
  23. Pick a day where you won’t complain.
  24. Wear two different colored socks and see if anyone notices (step farther – different shoes).
  25. Give a friendly wave to someone that you like.
  26. Bake cupcakes for the office.
  27. Improve the recycling program.
  28. Go above and beyond everyone’s expectations.
  29. Set-up a happy hour to allow people to relax and connect with each other (alcohol usually helps).
  30. Offer a co-worker help on a project that fits your strengths.
  31. Write a poem during lunch and print out a copy for everyone.
  32. Ask someone what they enjoy about their job.
  33. Make everyone gather for a group photo.
  34. Compliment the first person you talk to today.
  35. Ask five people how they are feeling. Then ask them how they are “really” feeling (and just listen).
  36. Bring in a plant for your desk or workspace.
  37. Bring in stickers that a third grade teacher would have e.g. “You are Great,” and pass them out when someone does something good.
Need a fun speaker who can give your audience the tools to be happier and more productive at work? Then let’s work together to take your event’s happiness up a few notches.
  1. Ask all your co-workers for their best joke. The best one gets a cup of coffee on you.
  2. Find 10 simple things to be thankful for (your soft chair, your computer turning on and working, your co-worker who helped you avoid a mistake, your lunch, your desk holding everything up, your breath for keeping you alive, etc.)
  3. Do something kid like and create a “show and tell” Friday.
  4. Answer the question, “Why do I enjoy this job?”
  5. Start a book club that meets once a month.
  6. Take a 5 minute break to move around every hour.
  7. Have a child paint a picture to take into the office.
  8. Ask your boss for positive feedback.
  9. Stretch at your desk for five minutes.
  10. Bring in your old magazines and put them in the lunchroom for someone else to read.
  11. Laugh at yourself.
  12. Give a copy of your favorite book to the employee who annoys you the most.
  13. Celebrate everyone’s birthday – tailor it to their likes.
  14. Dress up like it’s a special day.
  15. Celebrate a big contract or completion of a project by having music, dancing and a prize of a dinner for two.
  16. Announce to your team/office that you are giving away a prize to the most creative solution to a specific problem that you are having. (Prize could be a giftcard, lunch, or your favorite book.)
  17. Move a friend’s objects around on their desk as a fun little joke. (Make sure that you are good friends, so they don’t see it as mean-spirited.)
  18. Wash a co-worker’s car during your lunch.
  19. Have a dress-up day on a random day (besides Halloween).
  20. Switch jobs with someone in your department for a day.
  21. Have a 15 minute exercise break for the whole office.
  22. Write a letter to the most famous person in your industry asking for one piece of advice.
  23. Do a 1 minute relaxation exercise that makes you look weird (like yoga nostril breathing), but you don’t care because you’re relieving stress.
  24. Have a coloring contest – it brings back the “kid in school” feeling.
  25. Make a cup of hot tea for a co-worker.
  26. Offer to let someone else borrow your lucky “object” for the day (figurine, photo, etc.).
  27. Bring in a carved design in a piece of fruit (what type of fruit depends on the season).
  28. Ask to switch desks with someone for a day.
  29. Set-up a team meeting with donuts to share ideas.
  30. Wear all white.
  31. Watch a YouTube video on “Office Pranks”.
  32. Give every co-worker a special rock or flower that you picked for them and tell them why they got the rock that you gave them.
  33. Bring in a board game and play it during lunch.
  34. Write a “thank you” note to your favorite client, customer, or business.
  35. Ask someone if you can decorate their desk.
  36. Do your boss’s or co-worker’s most hated task.
  37. Throw a party for everyone in the office. Give one reason why you appreciate each person and that’s why you are throwing a party for everyone.
  38. Decorate your desk with things you care about.
  39. Bring in face paints and paint employees’ and customers’ faces.
  40. Bring in a cool piece of original art from home and display it in the office.
  41. Create a company song.
  42. Ask one person what their favorite animal is and why.
  43. Bring in Trivial Pursuit cards and ask people questions. If they get it right, they win a piece of candy.
  44. Do a 2 minute meditation in a quiet spot.
  45. Walk up to your nearest co-worker and give them an honest compliment.
  46. On your way home, plan a route that will take you by your favorite local landmark.
  47. Ask a co-worker to teach you a skill of theirs that you’ve admired.
  48. Make a list of 10 things that make you happy at work.
  49. Allow yourself to start fresh at this moment. Nothing that happened earlier in the day matters any more.
  50. Ask a co-worker who has admired your skill if they want you to teach them how to do it themselves.
  51. Use the phrase “I choose…” whenever you catch yourself saying “I need…”
  52. Make your tomorrow’s “to do” list at the end of today.
  53. Ask yourself, “How would my favorite person in all of history handle this situation and go do it.”
  54. Ask someone to share a story about their favorite career moment.
  55. Ask someone to be your mentor for the month. (Extend it if you both enjoy the experience.)
  56. Show up to work 10 minutes early so you can ease into your day.
  57. Admit to a co-worker that you made a mistake and that you were sorry. A clear conscious can do wonders for your happiness.
  58. Organize your desk.
  59. Draw a silly picture for a co-worker just for fun.
  60. Bring in a ten pack of bubbles to the office and give them away.
  61. Ask someone if they could be a part of any moment in history, what would it be.
  62. Smile at everyone and keep doing it for the whole day.
  63. Create an email meme that compliments 3 of your co-workers and/or customers and ask them to compliment 3 people.
  64. Just be in this moment and realize how lucky you are to be alive, breathing, helping, sharing, eating, drinking, laughing, crying, screaming, loving, and being you.

What would you add to make this list even better? 102 tips would be awesome. Just leave your tip in the comments below, either something you’ve been wanting to try or have tried in the past.

If you would like to be happier and more productive at work, you probably should check out the Unlock Your Passions free e-course. It takes you step by step through what you need to bring more passion into your career.