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Category: Happiness

Finding Happiness Within Each Work Day

Filed under: ambition, Attitude, Behavior in the Workplace, Best Advice, Career Advice, Happiness, motivation, Professional Development

One of my mom’s favorite stories to tell us as children was the tale of the traveler and the three bricklayers.

In the story, the traveler meets the bricklayers, who are hard at work, and asks them what they’re doing.

The first man responds, “I’m laying bricks.”

The second man responds, “I’m building a church.”

The third man responds, enthusiastically, “I’m building a cathedral!”

Despite each of the bricklayers having the exact same job, their subjective experience varied significantly.

There’s a great takeaway from this parable. When we can see how what we’re doing fits into the whole—when we’re aware that each metaphorical “brick” we’re laying is contributing to something greater—we feel happiness and fulfillment.

And just like that enthusiastic bricklayer, we too can actively seek to find meaning in our work. The “why” behind what we’re doing isn’t always obvious or inherent, but it’s there, trust me.

A recent survey of over 2,000 American professionals across 26 industries found that employees experience more satisfaction at work when their jobs feel meaningful. The same survey found that raises and promotions are more common among employees who find their work meaningful; these workers also tend to be harder working and more productive.

These findings leave little room for doubt that actively finding purpose in our work every day is the single best thing we can do for our careers. But knowing this and actually applying it are two different things. That’s why we need to learn to exercise a little something I like to call the “meaningfulness habit.”

How to Embrace the Meaningfulness Habit at Work

It works like this: Any time you’re starting a new task, take a moment to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What meaning can I give to this task?”

In High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way, author Brendon Burchard shares a similar practice called “Release Tension, Set Intention.” This involves embracing the transitions we experience throughout the day—going from eating to working, writing to attending a meeting, making a phone call to sending emails—as opportunities to release any tension we may be harboring and set an intention before going into a new task or environment.

Building on this habit, if we take a moment at each transition throughout the day to ask ourselves why we’re doing something before we do it, we can inject more meaning into the task at hand and make ourselves more motivated to complete it. This meaning could be something significant, such as furthering a cause you believe in or helping others in some way, or it could be something small, such as peace of mind or development toward a personal goal.

Not every task needs to be connected to world peace—it just needs to give you some positive feeling, identifiable with perhaps a slight smile, a sense of satisfaction, or a heightened ability to focus.

In some cases, like when you’re working on a particularly dull, repetitive task, the meaning you find may just be to keep your boss happy so you can keep your job and continue to support your partner or kids. And that’s OK!

Here are some other examples:

  • Why am I going to give this presentation? To help get more support for this project I believe in.
  • Why am I going to clean up my inbox? To reduce my stress levels and feel lighter before I go home.
  • Why am I going to fill out this spreadsheet? To keep track of our records so our team functions efficiently.
  • Why am going to attend this meeting? To support the people I work with and offer help where I can.

Even if we’re not tangibly building something—like the bricklayers—there can still be meaning behind it. It may be a stepping stone to something greater; it may be an opportunity to be an example to others; it may be a creative outlet; it may be a way to support our retirement. No reason is a bad one.

(If you’re still struggling, try reading this article on finding meaning in a meaningless job and this one on caring about more than just your title.)

Ultimately, whatever we’re doing, there’s a reason why (otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it). Which is good news because that means there’s always meaning (and happiness) to be found.

For the original article: The Muse.

How to Fall Back in Love with Your Job

Filed under: Attitude, Happiness, Psychology, Self Reflection

With February upon us, staying immune to some variation of the “winter blues” becomes almost as difficult as avoiding the flu. A general sense of restlessness and discontent may try to worm its way into various facets of your life, including your career. Or, perhaps, after the buzz and excitement of the holiday season, your day-to-day feels less satisfying.

You may look back on your current position and wonder when the passion began to fade. This spurs the question, should you stay, or should you go? As a firm believer in second chances, we suggest taking a step back to look at the bigger picture of your experience in this role before kicking it to the curb.

With that said, how do you reignite the spark?

Review the impact you’ve had on the company
Take a moment to look back on your time with this company. Review the role you’ve played in getting your organization or department to where they are now versus when you first started. While doing this, create a list of your achievements and consider if you could continue building upon them. Is this organization a better place in some sense because of the work you’ve done–are you a more skilled professional because of the work that you’ve had the opportunity to do?

Uncover the root of the problem
Sometimes the cause of your dissatisfaction can be easily pinpointed to an exact incident, but more often than not, your current feelings have been built by layers of varied occasions or relationships. In the case of the latter, it may take some self-reflection to reveal when and why you fell out of love. If you’ve had a bad experience with a coworker, fixating on your understanding of that particular incident is an easy route to take, but have you thought about it from their end or looked at the overarching actions that caused the experience to occur? Opening your mind to process a situation from an emphatic approach frequently generates a different perspective and greater respect for the people on the other end.

Look at your relationships
Consider the relationships you’ve formed during your time in this role. How have your colleagues helped you grow, and do they still have knowledge to impart? For many of us, a large portion of our experience is shaped by the relationships we maintain, and a positive or negative team dynamic could make or break your perception. If you’ve been working with the same individuals for a while, maybe you’ve settled into a predictable routine. Try shaking things up by asking your colleagues about their professional background or past experiences. You may be surprised by what you could learn from their past lessons.

Improve your view
Many of us spend a similar amount of time in our workspace as we do in our home. Decorating your house to make it feel like your home is done without question, but often we don’t put thought into personalizing our workspace. Consider the saying that the home is a reflection of the self. Think about that phrase in terms of your work area–a cluttered, impersonal space won’t help you feel connected to the work you’re doing. Of course, you can’t take the same creative liberties in your office as you could in your home. But consider adding some personal touches through photographs of family and friends, interesting desk accessories, plants, a calendar that reflects a personal interest, or books for inspiration. By introducing these elements you create a space that is familiar and comfortable, thereby naturally uplifting your mood.

Broaden your connections
Often in an office-setting, we become unintentionally socially affixed to members of our department or those that we sit near. Lack of exposure to other business areas may be causing you to miss out on great opportunities to broaden your network. Take control of this by asking a coworker from a different department out for lunch or coffee. By engaging with other sections of your company, you may acquire a fresh perspective and understanding of your organization and gain a lasting professional connection along the way.

Communicate what you’re feeling
As in any relationship, maintaining open communication with your teammates is a critical component to success. What feels obvious to you might go unnoticed by others. If appropriate, schedule time to sit down with your boss or teammates and try to talk through your thoughts. Outside perspectives may shed light on the root of your feelings and serve as a reminder of why you fell in love with your job in the first place.

Goal-setting
Now that you’ve done the work, reflecting on your past achievements and company growth, it’s time to look to the future: what could you accomplish in your role this year? Analyze a high-level perspective of your department’s objectives–are there projects in the pipeline that appeal to you? Do you see an opportunity to learn a new skill or strengthen an existing one? If you answered yes to either of those questions, ask yourself if you’d be comfortable with someone else building on the work you started. Begin with the end goals and break them down into phases, then into actionable items, until you have an overarching project plan for success. Has the flame returned yet?

As with most things, we frequently want what we can’t have and overlook the value of what’s in front of us. If you’re willing to put in the work, you may find your “relationship” (aka your job) is stronger than ever before.

How Positivity Makes You Healthy and Successful

Filed under: Attitude, Decision Making, Good Habits, Happiness, Psychology, Success

When faced with setbacks and challenges, we’ve all received the well-meaning advice to “stay positive.” The greater the challenge, the more this glass-half-full wisdom can come across as Pollyannaish and unrealistic. It’s hard to find the motivation to focus on the positive when positivity seems like nothing more than wishful thinking.

The real obstacle to positivity is that our brains are hard-wired to look for and focus on threats. This survival mechanism served humankind well back when we were hunters and gatherers, living each day with the very real threat of being killed by someone or something in our immediate surroundings.

That was eons ago. Today, this mechanism breeds pessimism and negativity through the mind’s tendency to wander until it finds a threat. These “threats” magnify the perceived likelihood that things are going—and/or are going to go—poorly. When the threat is real and lurking in the bushes down the path, this mechanism serves you well. When the threat is imagined and you spend two months convinced the project you’re working on is going to flop, this mechanism leaves you with a soured view of reality that wreaks havoc in your life.

Click here to read the rest on TalentSmart >>

Top 5 Reasons Employees Love Their Boss – and How to Be More Loved

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Good Habits, Happiness, Leadership and Management, teams

According to a study from Gallup, fully half of all employees in the U.S. have left a job because of problems with their manager.

That means that being a great boss — a likeable, even loveable boss — isn’t just about being popular or being “nice.” Rather, it’s a retention issue.

Improving your skills as a manager should be as important a part of your job as helping your employees improve their skills. If you’re ready to become everybody’s favorite boss, try adding these skills to your repertoire:

  1. Consistent and meaningful communication.

The number 1 problem people cite with their bosses and managers is a lack of communication. If you can improve your communication skills and create a culture of open communication with your team, you will go a long way to improving your relationship with your employees. Most important, people want clear expectations and updates when it comes to what’s expected of them.

Click here to read the rest on LinkedIn >>

Time Management: 4 Keys To Avoiding Work-Related Stress

Filed under: Good Habits, Happiness, Productivity, Stress

In some workplaces, stress is considered normal. However, excessive stress may negatively affect your productivity and personal health. The way you deal with stress can make a difference. Many people assume that they don’t have any control over their work environment. Yes, you can’t control everything at your workplace, but it doesn’t mean you’re powerless. Stress management isn’t a big deal if you keep your focus clear and think about the aspects that ARE in your control.

If you are over occupied with work, then it might make your attitude stubborn or irritable. You can lose your confidence and your work will seem less rewarding. If you don’t manage stress at initial stage, then it will ultimately result in bigger problems. Here are some simple time management tips to regain your control over difficult situation and handle stress effectively:

Click here to read the rest on Careerealism >>

3 Ways To Increase Your Job Satisfaction

Filed under: Career Advice, Happiness, Insights, Your Career

Although it’s no secret that many of us feel less than fulfilled in our work life, a Gallup poll recently revealed that a mere 13% of employees worldwide are actually engaged.

Considering that most of us spend the better part of our days at work, this is clearly not ideal. But what is the solution, if any?

Money is often thought to be the biggest predictor of job satisfaction, but a recent survey that ranked nearly 300 jobs from most to least satisfying shows that although money does play a role; it’s not the only motivator.

For instance, Internet technology and telecommunications professionals ranked at number 147 on the list, while farm workers were rated as the 23rd most satisfied workers, despite earning only about half as much as IT people.

Click to read the rest on Careerealism >>

 

4 Simple Steps To A Happier, Heartier Mind at work

Filed under: Best Advice, Happiness, Insights, Your Career

Are you a busy bee but don’t feel you’re flying high? Frantic activity doesn’t always feel good or work great. Here are four simple steps that help me in moving to a calmer, more productive and happier state of mind at work.

1. Know what you’re doing before you worry about how you’ll do it.

We jump to thoughts of implementation so often in our work, and that tendency creates several problems. We may not know exactly what we’re implementing, why we’re implementing it or how much is possible. By skipping ahead to the details, we begin work that may not make sense—and we unnecessarily constrain ourselves. Be mindful about each idea you’re pursuing and determine its larger purpose before running forward with activities. It’s not about what you’re doing but why you’re doing it.

2. Act with the right kind of urgency.

I’m at my best when I think of urgency as fire in the belly for a clear aim. Urgency is not panic. It’s not driven only by crisis. And it’s not rushing. In fact, it might require you to slow down long enough in your day to rest your mind and think straight since clutter and fatigue undermine productive urgency. Which brings me to…

Click to read the rest on LinkedIn >>

Beyond The Paycheck: What We Wish For

Filed under: Career & Money, Dreams, Expectations, Happiness

Plenty of studies show that pay increases only serve as a short-term performance motivator.

Certainly salary is important; every company should strive to compensate its employees fairly – even, if possible, more than “fairly.” Equitable pay is a given.

But it’s also often true that receiving a raise is a lot like buying a new car. Pretty soon we ratchet our expectations upwards and even a new Ferrari is “just” a car (unless it’s a Tesla, which is never “just a car”).

So where long-term performance is concerned, what matters more than pay? What do people wish for from their work? What helps employees feel truly valued and appreciated – and motivates them to do their absolute best?

Click here to read the rest on LinkedIn >> 

Don’t Be A Robot

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Career Advice, Good Habits, Happiness

Have you gone a little too rigid? The formalities of the professional world may leave you stuck in a web of thoughtlessness.

Personalized and thoughtful professional habits seem to have fallen by the wayside since the digital technology takeover. The fast-paced nature of our workplaces requires instantaneous communication that’s starting to leave us stiff.

Drop your robotic ways and save your professional image with these thoughtful tips:

Click here to read the rest on LinkedIn >>

Generosity: The Key to Getting Ahead

Filed under: Best Advice, Efficiency, Good Habits, Happiness

Have you ever worked for a jerk? How about a boss you loved, respected, admired? Who did you perform better for?

We all do better work for someone we trust, admire, respect. And yet, if you took a poll of critical business skills, you’d be hard pressed to come up with a list that didn’t include vision, leadership, drive, ambition, or intellect. You’d be equally hard pressed to find one that included, much less led with, generosity. That generosity is important and valued isn’t news—but the #1 key to success? That’s not where it usually lands.

Generosity is more typically an afterthought, a by-product, a “nice-to-have” quality. If a manager or leader is generous, they’re probably well liked. But it’s more than that: Elegantly simple, yet extremely powerful, generosity can make your career.

Generous people share information readily, share credit often and give of their time and expertise easily. What comes across is a strong work ethic, great communication skills, and a willingness and ability to collaborate. Generous bosses get 10x the productivity from their employees; generous employees’ stars rise in tandem with their bosses…

Click here to read the rest on LinkedIn >>