How to Be Happy at Work

I’ve been happy at work for over 30 years now, but I still remember what it felt like to be unhappy at work and what I did to turn that situation around.

In 1983 I was employed as an office manager with an investment company.  I was totally fed up with administrative work and wanted to work with people and write.  I did an aptitude test at work.  The results said: Not good at: writing, leadership, anything creative. Good at: mathematics, administration, and organising. Now anyone who knows me well would say that all the things that I was once described as not being good at, are now my strengths.

There will always be people who tell you what you can’t do, but I believe that if you have a strong enough desire you can develop skills. Always remember this: Desire is more important than talent. Aptitude tests usually tell us what we already know.  Aptitude is like a muscle, if you don’t use it you don’t develop the skill.  To be happy at work you need to discover what excites you, what you enjoy doing, then you can gain the skills required.

What makes you happy at work

To be able to find the right work for you, you need to know what makes you happy at work. I started asking myself questions like: What do I enjoy doing? What am I good at? What do I need from a job? What hours do I want to work? How much money do I want to make? What type of people do I want to work with? Where do I want to work?

The more questions you ask, the more information you gather that eventually becomes your job profile. You need to keep this list with you so that you can add to it whenever something comes to mind.

Keep an open mind

An easy mistake to make when you have a list of what makes you happy at work is try to find a an exact job title that fits, but it’s best if you can keep an open mind. When I went through my career crisis, I didn’t decide exactly what my new career would be, but when a position was offered to me I instantly knew it was right for me because of the extensive research I had undertaken on my needs and wants.  I did the necessary work first and I was ready when the opportunity came.

Once I started in my new career, the learning didn’t stop.  It started, and I am still learning today. Being dissatisfied in your career can be a great opportunity. I could never have plotted the path to get to where I am today. Don’t limit opportunities because you believe you are too old, too young, unqualified, not good enough, don’t have a degree or have failed before.

What it all comes down to is acting as if you believe in yourself and your abilities.  Set up a daily routine that supports you that reminds you to:

  1. Control your thoughts, these will take you down the wrong path at times, so remember to constantly tell yourself you can have what you want.
  2. Don’t talk to others about what you want, many will make you doubt your dreams.
  3. Make a list of things to do that lift your spirits and do them when you feel down.
  4. Add simple activities into your daily life that make you happy, because happy people attract more opportunities.

If you act as if you believe you are a wonderful, intelligent person, then others will see your potential as well and doors will open to you.



Joy is What Comes After a Transition

Joy is What Comes After a Transition

Every 20 years or so I go through a fairly major period of transition which creates turmoil as long as I resist what is. When I am open and willing something new and wonderful opens up.

My first major transition occurred in my thirties and that was scary as it resulted in a total life change. When I was in my late forties I felt directionless and in total despair that this was all my life was ever going to be, but as I searched for a better way to live, a whole new career and lifestyle opened up to me.

Most of the time I’m very  happy with my life, but there are occasions when doubt creeps in, particularly as I get older. At these times it is so very easy to slip back into our stories. Our story is what we tell others, and ourselves, about why our life is the way it is. It is the conversation that we repeatedly have with a friend about something or someone who irritates us. It is the problem that keeps recurring. Our stories are such a familiar part of us that most of the time we cannot see how our stories are running our lives.

Our stories can be about feelings, relationships, health, work, money and lifestyle. It often becomes the conversation we engage in when we feel stressed or challenged.

Our stories include choices and decisions we have made about what we can have, what we are capable of and how supported or loved we feel. And if we are not careful our stories can become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Stress is just another name for fear

Until we live mindfully our stories can easily run our lives. The more mindful we are the easier it becomes to recognise when we are feeling stressed, or when we are indulging in self-defeating patterns of behaviour. Stress is the wake up call we often need to change what we are doing. The easiest thing we can do is to stop talking about our problems and to stop resisting what is.

My go to strategy when my life isn’t flowing is to pause and tune into my emotions. If I find I am feeling angry, frustrated or fearful I forgive myself and the people whose behaviour is bugging me. I focus on appreciation and gratitude. Within hours life starts flowing again.

While most people dislike change life transitions always present us with wonderful opportunities. Practice sitting with your emotions. Accept that the quickest way to change your life is to accept what you don’t like. Stop worrying about what others think. Use this time to focus on joy. Ask yourself what a joyful life looks like? What a joyful day looks like? And start working towards it.

Joy is the gift we give ourselves.