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There are a ton of things you can do to make life at work easier, but to be really happy takes a bit of self-reflection and work on yourself.
Here, I share 9 ways to be happy at work from my personal experience and years of practice. Some of these tips can be a bit personal but they’ve worked wonders for me…
Work smarter, not harder
Let’s be real: do you spend 12-14 hours at work every day because it looks good? It’s what’s expected? It makes you feel better? Does it make you happy at work?
Spending countless hours at work out of passion and love for the job is admirable. But it’s an exception, not a rule!
I love my job, I love what I do. But I also like to step away from work at times and have a personal life.
So how do you do it? How do you deliver results but manage to reduce your working hours?
You learn, nay, you strive to work SMARTER, not harder!
Easier said than done?
How often have you questioned the way things were done? Or why so and so need these reports on time each month?
From experience, most people like to follow processes, task lists, just getting things done. It fills the work day. It gives you a sense of achievement.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like ticking a checkbox as much as anyone, but being happy at work is not just about going through a to-do list every day.
Start shifting your focus from the WHAT to the WHY.
Why are you doing your job? Can you deliver the same results more efficiently? Faster maybe? Delegating to others? (By the way, delegating is SUPER important, not only for you, but to allow others to learn and progress).
Give it a try. Your employer will thank you for it.
Develop and nurture relationships
I’m an introvert. I recharge my batteries when I’m by myself, and social interactions tend to deplete them.
Still, there is nothing like human interaction to make you feel happy at work (unless you’re stuck with the wrong people!).
I get that some people prefer detaching work from anything remotely social, and that’s fine (hopefully, not you, or you’re reading the wrong blog…).
But really, to be happy at work, you need people.
You need to be able to have a chat, and not just about work. Have colleagues you can feel comfortable with. And above all, you need to feel part of a community.
Sounds good but completely unrealistic in your current job? Look for another one, there’s plenty of fantastic employers out there focusing on people and nurturing their talent pool.
If you haven’t paid enough attention to relationships and developing your network, start now. (More on this soon, don’t forget to subscribe!).
If there’s one thing I have never stopped doing since starting my working life, it’s focusing on my self-development.
Yes, you should read books, watch videos, listen to podcasts etc…
But here’s the secret: development opportunities are all around!
How about asking your boss to deliver the next presentation yourself? Sounds scary? Well I hope so, or you’re not learning anything!
The key here is to find something outside your comfort zone. Something you probably don’t want to do. And just do it!
Believe me, you come out of these situations feeling so good about yourself. And if at first you don’t succeed…
Have a “no blame” mindset
One thing that has always had a HUGE impact on my happiness at work is having a “no blame” culture.
Now, this is a difficult one to get right. But here’s the secret: it starts with you!
We all have a tendency to criticise others. We actually love doing it. So having a real “no blame” culture is not natural, and you should actually expect the opposite in most cases.
So how about instigating it yourself?
You can totally control this by (1) choosing to ignore any blame assigned to you and (2) being extra supportive to others around you when things go south.
People will notice and their behaviour will probably start to change.
If not, do what I did: spell it out, get everyone to agree to it, and call them up on it!
Give and ask for feedback
When was the last time someone told you you did a good job? Or gave you some really useful feedback on how to improve?
If it’s been a while, don’t be passive: go get it!
It’s great to be in an organisation when feedback and recognition is part of the social fabric, but if not, there is nothing wrong with asking for it yourself.
It’s much better than complaining about the lack of it (note, the passive of complaining vs. active behaviour of reaching out).
To be happy at work, I suggest you strive for a positive environment where constructive criticism, recognition and praises are expected. Give them, ask for them. Celebrate the wins, and acknowledge when things can be improved.
Look after yourself
How does looking after yourself relate to being happy at work?
Well, you simply cannot be happy at work long-term if you’re not looking focusing on self-care. You can lie to yourself for a while but trust me, it won’t last.
My favourite hack to always start the day in the best possible form is to have a morning routine. Save an hour in the morning, just for yourself, to do things that will help you take control of the rest of the day.
I like the framework from The Miracle Morning book by Hal Elrod, using the acronym SAVERS (Silence, Affirmation, Visualisation, Exercise, Reading and Scribing).
In any case, no matter the time of the day, try to get some exercise in, eat relatively well and find time for yourself (to read, write, or even watch an episode of your favourite show!).
Planning the next day is actually part of my evening routine. I use a bullet journal to have visibility over my days, weeks and months, as well as deciding each evening what my 3 most valuable things (MVT) will be, the only things I actually need to worry about – anything else is a nice to have.
I tried this when I started losing sleep due to anxiety and overwhelm. Thinking about all the things I had to do at work, with no real structure or direction, made me worry at night for countless hours.
Having that sense of control over your priorities and clearly seeing your MVTs really will help you be happy at work.
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Declutter your workspace
Something a bit more practical, but having a clear workspace goes a long way in making me happy at work.
The opposite is also true – a cluttered desk makes me really anxious. I actually struggle to focus on anything else, and end up clearing it until I can move on!
There’s actually a ton of research backing the fact that clutter affects your brain and your work.
Give it a try, and if you really want to be kind to yourself, tidy your desk in the evening (yes, that includes your coffee mug), so that you can start the next day with a “clean slate”.
If all else fails, look for another job
There are a lot of other things that impact your ability to be happy at work. But let’s be real for a second – nothing beats working for the right company or being in the right job!
Jobs can be like relationships. You know it’s not perfect, but you’ve invested so much time that you think you should stick with it and hope for it to get better.
There’s plenty of jobs out there, and you only have one life. And since a big part of this life is at work, you can’t settle for something that doesn’t make you happy.
And while you’re at it, make sure you really look into your next employer to make sure it’s a perfect fit!
I hope these tips will help you achieve happiness at work.
As I mentioned at the start, they are personal to me but have made such a big difference to my life that I had to share them with you.
The main thing to remember is that being happy at work is often linked to mindset, and working on yourself to shift perspective can have a huge impact on how you feel at work.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these 9 ways to be happy at work: which one really resonated with you? Please comment below.