Happier Work Life

HappyGoing into the New Year we hear a lot of talk about getting in shape, eating healthily and making sure we exercise daily. Certainly that’s all well and good – especially after our indulgences of the holiday season. But maybe even more important is our mental well-being.

We are often defined by our work. Our work gives us structure and purpose. But what happens when you are sick of your job? Should you quit? While there comes a time when a job change is what we need, very often the fact that we are unhappy at work is the result of our own neglect. Perhaps it’s the routine of going to work every day. Or maybe it has to do with your long standing devotion to the work you do. It’s hard sometimes to shake the feeling of inadequate fulfillment at work.

What can we do? While there are all kinds of ways that you can make your job more interesting, or your attitude more positive (see our Tips for Being Happier at Work), our quest this month is to make that happier attitude a constant in your life.

Two things that are discussed frequently when it comes to work life satisfaction, include:

  • Focusing on learning opportunities, and
  • Reaching an intense state of focus.

According to a recent article by Fast Company, to achieve real happiness at work, we should focus on what we are learning in our job and building on that set of skills. There are a lot of ways we can go about building our knowledge base.

Research. Fortunately, we live in the internet era. You can find information online about any subject. Stick to known and reputable sites and you’ll likely find lots of information on the skill you are trying to build. And don’t forget to check out podcasts and videos. It’s amazing how much and how fast we can learn about a particular skill by listening to someone, rather than reading and re-reading articles and white papers.

Colleagues. Chances are, there’s someone in your business or association that has the skills you are interested in. Seek out mentors, colleagues and friends. Ask them to give you feedback and point you in the right direction. Having a few conversations can really help you hone in on the areas of development – and in the process, all that talk makes you more excited to learn.

Resources. There are lots of outside resources where you can take a seminar or workshop on a particular subject. These resources aggregate a lot on information, helping you make greater strides in a shorter amount of time.

The second tip for creating a happier work environment comes from a study done by the University of Chicago. The study examined peak performance and found that when individuals were able to reach an intense state of focus (often called “flow”) that they became completely engrossed in a project and free of external distractions.

The benefits of focus. This intense state of focus leads to a kind of euphoria – a mastery of the subject, if you will. The result is happiness, productivity and a new sense of learning. So how do we reach this intense state of focus?

Organization. The key to focus seems to be organizing your tasks and priorities with clear goals in mind that are reachable. As you meet and exceed these goals, focus increases, along with our confidence level. And as our confidence increases, so does our enjoyment of our work. We’ll even put more stress on ourselves to learn more, so desirable is this state.

Continuous enjoyment. There is evidence that we can continue this state of euphoria and focus by setting clear goals every day. Writing down our tasks, setting priorities and accomplishing these tasks are important to our enjoyment and focus.

If you or your organization needs help in the New Year with Individual Development Plans, give us a call. An IDP is critical and fast becoming mandatory in Federal Government for all employees. An IDP is a road map of mostly career goals (some personal goals)  and contains a step-by step-action plan to achievement.  Give LMJA a call at 301-670-0051, or email me at Leadership@lmja.com. Let’s put some time aside to discuss your needs.