Unhappy at Work? How to Tell Your Boss


I had it all — a great company, terrific coworkers and a short commute. The only problem was I really didn’t like my job. I spent most of my day alone, crunching numbers for data research. There was no creativity and little human interaction. I wasn’t happy, but I labored on, dejected and frustrated.

One day, everything changed. I had stopped by my boss’s office to answer a question. Instead, I faced one: “Is something wrong?” Instead of brushing it off, I told him I wasn’t happy. It was more than a bad day, I needed something more in my job.

My boss sat back, stunned. Trying to backpedal, I added, “I like the office and everyone here. I’m just not satisfied in this role anymore. I need a change of pace, a challenge, something.”

That was all it took. My brilliant boss saw a good worker in distress and took action. I still crunch numbers, but I can deal with it because I also get to lead a new team. It’s not easy, but I love the challenge, interaction and creativity it brings.

A friend of mine had a similar experience. He was really good in sales, but, at the end of the day, he wasn’t fulfilled. He was more proactive than I and took the matter to his supervisor. I’m pleased to report that he’s now a satisfied — and effective — client manager.

If you’re discontent at work, you don’t have to suffer in silence or change jobs. Don’t wait to have an outburst like I did, either. There’s another option. Get some help by going to your boss and asking for help. Not sure how to do that? Here are some ideas:

1. Get a Grip on What’s Bothering You

Do you know why you’re dissatisfied? I felt unhappy for weeks, but I never took time to pinpoint the problem. Don’t make that mistake. For a week, write down everything that bugs you about your job, no matter how insignificant. When that’s done, you have data. Time for analysis.

Read through your list looking for commonalities, patterns and repetitions. Then you’ll be able to name your issues, such as too many assignments, interrupting coworkers or lack of a challenge. When you approach your boss, you can be specific. Even great bosses can’t read minds.

2. Scrutinize Scrupulously

While you’re considering what makes you unhappy, look at your life outside work as well. Sometimes people are sad and disinterested all the time, but it’s more obvious at work because of expectations and pressure. If you constantly feel helpless, tired, negative, irritable or worthless, these are all signs of a bigger problem. You may be one of the 14.8 million adults affected by a depressive disorder. In this case, a doctor will be more help than your boss, at least initially.

3. Prepare a Plan

Now that you’ve identified your problems, you may see ways to fix them. Since you’re in the middle of it all, you might be the best person to suggest some changes — or not. Either way, you’ll probably be asked for solutions, and you can either make proposals or honestly admit you’re flummoxed.

Think about what it is that would make you happier in your job and list out some things that can help you get it – maybe it’s taking on an additional project or getting to work from home once per month to get done the writing you’re too unfocused to do in your cubicle. Sure, it may mean asking for more work but if it’s fulfilling work it could be the answer to your troubles.

4. Try Talking

OK, you have a handle on what’s bugging you, and you may even have some changes to propose. Time to set a meeting with your boss. Just don’t approach this as a doom and gloom scenario, or your boss’s schedule may suddenly be full for the next two months. When you request the appointment, keep your attitude positive. You really do want things to get better, and this meeting is another step along the way.

5. Set the Stage

You hope the meeting will send you on a path toward a happier workplace, so show it. Have a productive mindset. Go in calm, cool and collected. You’ll be more efficient — and you won’t make your boss uncomfortable or annoyed at having to deal with shouting, sobbing, whining or whimpering. Be positive about the process, and your boss will be, too.

6. Sit in the Spotlight

Remember, this isn’t a gripe session about the rest of the staff. It’s about you. Tell your boss you want to be more engaged in your work. Make the case for becoming a better employee. You’re more likely to get assistance if it improves the bottom line.

7. Paint the Picture

Be upfront with your unhappiness, and use your data to back you up. Feeling overwhelmed? It’s no wonder — you had to start five new projects in the last week. Constrained? Because of the chain of command, you’ve wasted time seeking approval for little decisions you’re capable of making. Unappreciated? You put in way more than 40 hours last week but saw no additional compensation through overtime or comp time.

Don’t be accusatory or negative. In a professional manner, state your facts.

8. Recommend Resolutions

This is the time to pull out your list of suggestions — if you were able to generate it. Your boss will appreciate knowing what you think will solve the problem. They’re not a mind reader, remember? You won’t necessarily get everything you want, but it’s a good starting place. If not all your ideas are feasible, go on to step nine.

9. Solicit Suggestions

Request advice and make sure to take notes. This not only helps your recall, but it also shows the boss you’re serious. If an answer seems vague or incomplete, ask for details. You’re here for help, so it’s up to you to get it.

10. Take Action

By the end of the meeting, you should have a plan of action, so it’s time to get busy. If it’s a long list, don’t become overwhelmed and give up. Take it one step at a time. If the going gets tough, remember: This is about you being happier at work. Your boss will also notice — and appreciate — that you followed through.

Get out of your rut at work. You may not have put yourself there, but, with help from your boss, you can crawl your way back out.

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

How to Help Your Employees Feel Happier at Work

Office Conversation

Leading someone to do what you want them to do and getting them to actually enjoy doing it isn’t easy. I’ve always been a hard person to lead. I like to do things my way. A lot of people like to do things their way or at least feel like it.

Are you difficult to lead as well?

Most people are.

This is the key to leading your people.


Happiness is based on perception. Some employees love complete autonomy while others prefer a more structured day. You need to help them create the type of workday that makes them happy, productive and delivering great results.

It’s how they perceive their ability to make choices that truly matter to them. If they have control over the kind of projects that they like to work on for a large portion of their day they will be happy. They need have the freedom to execute their ideas. It’s giving them the space to grow and expand.

When people own their choices they feel responsible to deliver on their promises. As a leader in your organization, think about who you enjoy delivering great work to, it could be a co-worker, boss, or customer. Why do you think you work harder to deliver these results for them? You’ll understand the importance of emotions in your workday as well as your people’s emotions.

My Mistakes

A few years ago I was assigned to lead to an event that my company was hosting. I had to bring in speakers (inside and outside the organization), set up the conference room in a hotel, create a program, gather materials, promote conference and the list went on.

I was blindly assigning people to jobs without asking for their input. After terrible results in the first few weeks I stopped to take a breather. I gathered everyone for a meeting and I listened to feedback. Their feedback shocked me. I had a lot of improvement to make as a leader.

True Leadership

So you want an atmosphere that encourages great work? Don’t we all. Most bosses and managers talk a good game, but they don’t create a plan to make it happen.

Almost every CEO I worked for always talked about the importance of their people, but their actions did not coincide with their words. They were always more worried about their own issues.

I know how important it is to make money, improve profit margins, keep stock holders happy, but if the employees aren’t happy then the bottom line will suffer.


Let people create their own plan, improving their ability to understand the choices they do have (perceived freedom) and execute on their ideas then encourage them to improve their mistakes. The problem lies in helping them execute so they have the best chance at success.

As a leader of people you need to remove obstacles and encourage happiness in every facet of your business. I’ve created 10 techniques that will help your company be happy and successful.

  1. Be happy yourself.
  2. Know your people.
  3. Make time for your people.
  4. Create more autonomy.
  5. Help them find meaning in their work.
  6. Stop letting jerks dictate the company culture.
  7. Encourage friendships.
  8. Recognize hard work.
  9. Let people know that they have options.
  10. Find out why people leave.

These are concepts that are easy to understand, but may be hard to apply to your company’s culture. Let’s start with little baby steps.

Once you’ve been able to bring a little more happiness into your own life and career, which isn’t easy, but should be daily exercise. You can move on to making your employees happy.

The best way to do this is the 4-step employee happiness process:

  1. Ask them, on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 being you would rather lose a foot than continue working here and 10 being happier than a baby giggling) how happy are you?
  2. Ask them, how can I make you happier? (What projects are you struggling with and what projects would you like to do more of? Let’s say they say on the scale of happiness they are a 4 then I like you to say how can I help you get to a 5 or 6. Make it feel attainable and meet their expectations.)
  3. Listen to their responses and be honest about where you could probably help them and where it might not be possible at this time.
  4. Ask them if they can create a plan with 2 projects that they would like to work on (no more than 500 words) that would help them feel happier as well as help the company improve. Give them a date of when you would like the plan buy. Make sure they give you a step-by-step of how they would implement the projects (timeframe, resources, and breakdown of tasks) and what they think the results would be after the project is complete.

That’s it.

You will have to review the plan, pick the best project (give them guidelines to create a better project for them and the company), but if they did their due diligence your job is just to review plan, make mutual adjustments, and have them implement their idea.

The best part is it’s a win-win. You have happier employees and you get better results.

What is one great idea you’ve seen from your boss that helped you feel happier at work?

What to Do When You Hate Your Job

Smiling at work

Hating your job isn’t particularly uncommon. In fact, a Gallup study found that around 70% of workers find themselves “disengaged” from their job. Doing the same things day after day, while feeling you’re hardly making a difference in the world, can certainly contribute to a feeling of disengagement in the workplace.

I was once that disengaged employee who hated my job. I dreaded getting up in the morning, and every minute spent at work felt like the clock was ticking by – way too slowly – until I could finally clock out and head home. Sometimes I’d hide in the bathroom for a few minutes, just to get away from my desk.

I was miserable. Lucky for me, I wasn’t trapped. That dreadful job was just for the summer, and I was lucky enough to go back to school at the end of the season.

Unfortunately, many of those who don’t enjoy their job can’t simply get up and leave. Many factors — from a steady paycheck to a feeling of security — make it nonsensical for workers to leave, at least in the present. So what can you do when you hate your job but can’t leave?

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.

There are several options:

1. Pursue Passions on the Side

When I worked that sales job, it was becoming quickly apparent that it wasn’t the job for me. I had no clue what to do at the time, as I needed to pay rent. So I started doing something I enjoyed in my spare time: writing. I had always enjoyed writing and soon realized there were places online that paid for quality work. I began working for a copywriting business in my spare time. Eventually, when the time was right to leave my sales job, I had already built experience and connections within an industry that made me happier and more properly utilized my strengths — thanks to pursuing my passion on the side while working days.

Whether you have an hour or several of free time after work, it’s recommend to keep your passions intact while working at a job you hate. It could be something artistic like writing or graphic design, or maybe it’s an idea — like starting your own PR company or inventing. Regardless, a dull job shouldn’t keep you from pursuing your passions and things you’re good at.

2. Use Your Job to Identify Weaknesses

Your job right now may be boring, but you can still use it to your advantage as a device to identify which things you wouldn’t possibly want to do at your next job. For example, I found the constant phone calls in sales to be annoying, which helped me narrow down my future options and resulted in deciding on something like writing — where phone calls aren’t nearly as non-stop.

While working at your current job, write down a list of things about it you don’t enjoy, along with things you do enjoy — if any. This will help you discover the best industry for you when the time is right to leave. Making a list with two columns — “too much” and “not enough” — should make your next career move a lot clearer when the time is right.

3. Identify Lifelong Goals

It’s natural for humans to live day-by-day. It’s difficult to brainstorm about where you want to be in 20 years when rent is due and you’re worrying about affording groceries. Still, when your job isn’t the right fit, it’s a great idea to keep in mind your lifelong goals so as to better associate yourself with businesses that share similar values.

I may not have worked my sales job for long, but it was long enough to know that I needed more to strive for. Now that I’ve had that experience, I can appreciate my current position all the more. Still, some days are harder to get through. That’s where goals come in. On the days you don’t feel like working, or you feel as though you have nothing to work for, having a goal can be like having a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s your out, your way to a better job, to happiness.

Take learning as a goal, for example. Since millennials are the most educated generation in history, many businesses are beginning to adopt lifelong learning values, such as opportunities for continued education and training. If this is important to you, keep it in mind as you plot your next move. Make it a lifelong goal to work for a company that shares that value.

The second part to that goal is to work towards it in the short run, too. If you lack the experience or training to make the move to a job you want, make it a goal to start learning anything and everything you can to get to where you want to be. I make it a goal to read at least two books a month that can help me grow – both as an individual and as a professional. You’ll develop the skills you need to make the move, and that dream company of yours – the one that values learning – will take this as a sign that you’re a good fit. Now you’re not stuck anymore.

Your current job is also useful in this sense, since you can look at your current employer’s general philosophy and workplace and identify areas you don’t enjoy, such as an over-emphasis on profits over community or a lack of communication from managers. Add these aspects to either the “too much” or “not enough” columns as well.

4. Consider Staying, but With Adjustments

If for whatever reason you absolutely cannot leave your job in the near future, it may be better to hunker down and try to maximize your situation there the best you can. For example, if your job leaves you feeling unstimulated, speak with your employer about handling greater responsibilities. Not only will it make time go by quicker, but the more substantial responsibilities are a good look that can result in a pay raise down the line. Also, ask about your current employer’s educational benefits or volunteer opportunities, as both provide a way to hone your talents while working at a job that does not properly use them.

This is also a good strategy when you love the company, but hate your job. Most bosses want to retain employees and are open to horizontal movements within the company. If you’re feeling unsatisfied but aren’t interesting in leaving behind the company (or the benefits), switching to a new position within the company can sometimes be the answer.

While being at a boring job is less than desirable, these tips can either help you tolerate your current situation or move onto a new one when the time is right. Whatever you do, remember that you’re never stuck.

Sarah Landrum, the author of this post, 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

How to Build Habits that Make You Happier


To often we bully ourselves to get things done or to do things that need to get done.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever created a crazy to do list in the past month and got less than half done.

You are setting yourself up for failure.

You must strive, yes, but not wear yourself out, no. Heavy doses of stress will destroy your health.

You do good work. Your productive and get things done, only to look at your list and wonder why you didn’t get more done.

You can alway get more done.

The thing is that you’ve got to be sensible about habits.

Define your habit, understand why you want to build it, and what would be the best way to go about doing it.

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.

Essential Habit Building

You’ve got to hack your habits, so they are more likely to stick.

Not just picking a habit to add to your life, but a habit that will make you happier and healthier. Or more productive and more focused. Or patient and smarter.

You can’t just pick a habit like eating healthy and just see what sticks.

The smartest people, who have strong self discipline, know that they have to create a habit that meets their needs on multiple levels.

Essential habit building is vital to actually adding habits that help you vs adding habits because it sounds good.

You probably have 5 habits that you would like to improve.

My 5 habits I would like to improve:

  1. Daily meditation.
  2. Stop work earlier to relax at night.
  3. Practice Yoga for longer periods of time.
  4. Be more present when I play with my kids.
  5. Be a better listener.

Focus On One Habit at a Time

If I try to do them all at once I’ll fail. It’s just too hard. So instead I focus on the most important one to me right now and create a 1, 3 or 6 month plan. If I can improve 4 of my habits each year then that’s a great year. Some habits like drinking more water in the morning don’t require 6 months of practice.

It was easy for me to fill up a glass of water first thing in the morning and drink it.

You have to ask yourself:

What is most important to you?

Then decide to turn this into a habit. I suggest scheduling it. You can make a game out of it too. I want to bring more calm and deeper breathing into my life, so I schedule meditation every single day. If I don’t do it in the morning then I do it at night, after the kids go to bed, and before I watch my favorite shows.

I wake up thinking about about meditation. And now it’s become a part of my life that if I don’t do I miss it. When you miss something you know it’s become a habit.

If you can build a habit that will improve your career and your health you will have a strong motivation to make sure it sticks with you. Now go and try it out.

How Being Creative at Home Makes You Happier at Work


Every night on my drive home from work, I make a mental list of things to do. Feed the dogs, make dinner, take a shower, make lunch for tomorrow. Once my work clothes are off and my pajamas on, I shoot through my nightly chores at a lightning pace. The quicker I complete my housework, the more time I have to spend coloring.

Yes, you read that right — coloring.

I, like many others, have jumped with both feet into the adult coloring craze.

When I was a teenager, I would spend hours at my kitchen table with watercolors and paper, working on some new masterpiece. Unfortunately, as I grew older, work got in the way. I found that art isn’t something you can just stop for months and then start up again without missing a beat. The longer I spent away from the drawing board, the further my ability to create from scratch deteriorated.

As I sit here writing this, I am almost certain that I may have lost it forever. Nonetheless, I still find joy in other types of creativity — namely frittering away the hours with my coloring book, filling in the intricate mandalas with bold, bright hues.

I make it a point to tell anyone who will listen to take time out of their busy schedules to do something soothing and creative each day like I do. Why? Because it makes me better at my job.

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.

Creativity Impacts Your Work Life

Recent research from San Francisco State University found that creative activities (knitting, painting, photography, gardening, etc) can have a positive influence on work performance.

“Creative pursuits away from work seem to have a direct effect on factors such as creative problem solving and helping others while on the job,” says Kevin Eschleman, an assistant professor of psychology.

The findings showed that those who spent time on a creative hobby performed between 15 to 30 percent better at work than those who did not. There are a multitude of reasons why this might be the case.

  • Taking time to enjoy a favorite creative pursuit can help a person recharge before heading back to work.
  • Creative activities serve as a means to learn more about individual strengths and weaknesses, knowledge that can be used professionally.
  • Those who engage in a hobby often report greater feelings of mastery and control.
  • Creative hobbies relieve stress — and less stress leads to higher productivity.

Furthermore, creativity often spawns insight. Some of your best business ideas might pop up when you’re in a totally different frame of mind while exercising your creative muscles.

Make More Time to Be Creative

According to a study from Adobe, 75% of Americans value their own creativity in resolving personal and professional problems — but only 25% feel they live up to their creative potential. If you count yourself among the second group, start making changes in your everyday life to fit in more time to be creative.

Start by reserving a space for being creative. Since boundaries are both physical and psychological, under no circumstances should you bring work into this space — that would defeat the stress relieving purposes of creativity entirely.

“If you work at work, and work at home, you may find yourself feeling like you have no personal time, which will increase your stress load and decrease your job satisfaction.” — Paralegaledu.org

By setting aside an actual physical space for creativity, we train ourselves to know when it is time to work and when it isn’t. Having a dedicated space is helpful for shutting out distractions as well. Shut doors, turn off phones, let your friends and family know that you don’t want to be disturbed.

Map out your creative process, by determining what time of day, or in what setting, you are most creative. If you’re inundated with ideas during your morning shower, a good time to set aside time for being creative would be right after it.

Your assignment this week is to schedule a block of time devoted entirely to being creative. Whether it’s writing, drawing, or refinishing furniture — the impact it can have on your work life might surprise you.

Liz Greene hails from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene or delve deeper into her internal musings at InstantLo

Image courtesy of Chris Guillebeau

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


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

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

Your breath is the most important part of your day. 

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

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

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

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

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


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

Focus on:

Your breath.


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

What I like:

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

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

Why Taking Short Breaks More Often Will Make You Smarter


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.