Transform your Work Life with Gratitude

John Kralik didn’t think he had much to be grateful for. He was miserable, broke, overweight and living in a run-down apartment. While hiking one new year’s day he made a resolution to write a thank you note every day for that year, and that simple habit changed his life. Writing the notes gave him a positive focus that made him realise just how much he had in his life to be grateful for, and this habit which extended way beyond a year, led to him writing, A simple Act of Gratitude.

Since 2003 there has been an explosion of research carried out on gratitude and the ability it has to transform lives, and while being grateful is a great habit, the time when we need to practise it the most is when our life is not all that we want it to be.

Prior to starting Hart Life Coaching I felt so demoralised. I had lost money, prestige and confidence when I was reduced to working as a bookkeeper for a pitiful hourly rate. In my former life I had earned thousands for a one hour talk, had a regular spot on TV and my opinion was sought after. Then I was nobody reduced to working for $17 an hour. My fall from grace turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me because it motivated me to shift my focus off what was wrong and onto being kind and grateful for what I had.

Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation. Appreciation, kindness, caring, compassion are all emotions that lift the electromagnetic field that our hearts produce which in turn draws good things to us. I had only been focusing on gratitude and being kind to others for a few weeks when, out of the blue, a stranger rang and asked me to ghost write a book. That one opportunity led to other opportunities and within months I was able to leave bookkeeping behind and do work that I love again.

Research has confirmed that gratitude at work:

Boosts pro-social behaviour
Promotes deeper relationships
Fosters kindness and new friendships
Strengthens existing friendships
Increases productivity

If you aren’t in love with your work, if you want to start your own business but haven’t been able to yet, focus your attention on gratitude. Gratitude is not about you, it’s about other people. Simple acts of kindness and gratitude leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling. When I was stuck in jobs I didn’t really care for I looked for ways to make other people happy. I would pay the bridge toll for the person behind me, I bought flowers for the receptionist, I told people how much I appreciated them. I started giving thanks in advance for the things I wanted as if I already had them.

When we get stressed, we sometimes feel as if we are moving backwards, so by bringing some heart energy into our daily interactions we become refreshed, happier and we feel good about ourselves. And the bonus is that we make other people feel good as well.

Being grateful at work isn’t about adding another thing to your ‘to do’ list. It’s about developing an attitude that looks for the good first, and it’s always a good idea to support the development of gratitude with a habit. Every time I drive past the beautiful bay near my home, I give thanks for the privilege of living here. I have two cats that love to sit on my lap, and I give thanks every time I stroke them for the love they give me. I give thanks before I go to sleep each night. And I give thanks for all the wonderful people who choose to train with my company every time I walk into my office.

David Steindl-Ras,a Catholic Benedictine monk and author said, “If you’re grateful, you’re not fearful, and if you’re not fearful, you’re not violent. If you’re grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people, and you are respectful to everybody, and that changes this power pyramid under which we live.”

 

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.

 

 

When You Discover Your Calling You Never Have to Work Again

A growing trend globally is for people in their late sixties and seventies to be a vital part of the work force. While this is a bonus when you love what you do, imagine having to spend an extra 5 – 20 years doing a job you don’t like just for money.

Most of us have fantasised at some stage about winning the lottery but fantasies are usually a way of escaping from a reality that doesn’t fulfil us. To never work again is a fantasy for many, but it doesn’t have to be.  The key is to do what you love.

I consider myself fortunate to have had many careers that I have enjoyed but it wasn’t until I started life coaching, nearly 20 years ago now, that I found my calling.  A calling is something that you don’t need to retire from because it doesn’t feel like work. Some of us find our calling through our work, while others find it through volunteer or leisure activities. However, I’ve found that the more you go in search of your calling the harder it seems to be to find and that’s often because it’s often something we don’t expect.

We find our calling when we share our gifts. Gifts, in this context, are commonly thought of as skills or attributes, but a more accurate way to discover your gifts is to focus on what you love doing. I love meeting people from all walks of life, helping them to be happy, and working out what motivates them. I also love sharing what I learn. If we were to translate those loves into gifts they are optimism, resourcefulness, curiosity, love of learning, and my willingness to do whatever I need to do to be the best me I can be. The skills, which I have developed over time, evolved from doing what I love.

It’s so easy to waste so much time and energy trying to work out how to do what we want to do, and worrying about whether we are making the right choice, when what serves us best is simply doing things we love.

A woman who trained as a life coach with me loved life coaching but was concerned about how to build a full time business, she also felt a little lost working on her own all the time. I suggested that she continue working with clients and allocate some time to volunteer work. I suggested she choose a cause that she was passionate about. She did this and within a short period of time a paying role arose in that organisation which enabled her to use her life coaching skills and all her gifts.

Sharyna Sharman knew she wanted to help people but as a country girl used to spending her days in paddocks with horses, she didn’t want to do spend all her time in an office, so she combined coaching with equine therapy to assist people to build confidence and leadership skills.

The Universe knows exactly what you want and there is a role that is perfectly suited to the lifestyle you want to live just waiting for you,and you claim it by doing what you love, as much as you are able to, right now.

It is very easy to get caught up in all the reasons why you can’t have what you want and one of the biggest excuses that people make is ‘I don’t have time’. To live a life where you never work again you need to make time because doing what you love energises you, it changes everything in your life, whereas working for a living drains you.

You have unique gifts to share, isn’t it time you found out what those were and started being true to yourself?

Understanding Your Work Values

Do you know what your work values are? Only a small number of people do.

When I had my last child I moved my financial planning business from a professional office to home and I was totally unprepared for how big an adjustment that would be.  The worst part about working from home was the lack of companionship, and trying to fit my working day around a demanding baby and clients was exhausting. With the benefit of hindsight, I now realise that working from home was so stressful for me at first because I didn’t understand what made me happy at work.  It took a financial crisis before I became aware of what my work values are.  That crisis turned out to be a wonderful opportunity that enabled me to start my life coaching and training business which is more suited to my interests and lifestyle.

Whenever you say you want more money, less debt, more financial possessions, a job you love, what you are really saying is that you want a feeling.  So in order to determine your work values you need to determine what feelings are most important to you in the workplace. One, sometimes more than one, of these values is your motivating force.

What some people love about going to work is the companionship they share with others. The camaraderie, friendships and social aspects of the job are more important to them than the actual work they do.  For others their personal values are their highest priority.  Working for an ethical organisation, being able to work in a harmonious environment, or making a difference, has a greater priority than the actual tasks they perform.

My hairdresser’s son, who is in Year Seven at school, wants to be an actor. He is so passionate about performing he clearly values work content. People who value work content often know specifically what they want to do from a young age. Was there something you wanted to do as a child? One of my clients told me that as a child she used to go from door-to-door offering to sing for money. She grew up and became a very successful singer.

For some people where they work is most important, they value the environment they work in, this could mean working outdoors, or in a variety of different environments. I have a lovely young man who assists me with my garden. After finishing school he went to university and obtained a business degree. When he finished his degree he couldn’t face the prospect of working in an office and so he works as a landscaper and gardener. He has two passions, surfing and travel. His work allows him to work intensively, and then take off overseas every few months. He never experiences winter as he always follows the sun. He said, “It’s a wonderful way to live”.

If you don’t know what you want then think about what you don’t want and write it down. Then when your list is complete write down the opposite of what you don’t want.

For instance, if you don’t want to be around negative people you know you want to work and socialise with positive people. If you don’t want to worry about money you know that creating financial security and possibly freedom needs to be a top priority. A lot of the time most people know what they want, they just don’t have a label for it.

ASK FOR GUIDANCE

When I experienced my mid life crisis I started walking each morning, usually at around 5 – 6am when it was quiet. On those walks I’d talk to the Universe and ask for guidance, help and sometimes for answers. At that time I didn’t feel happy and I didn’t know what work I wanted to do. However, over time as I asked questions and received answers I gained clarity as to what made me happy. The answers I received and then acted upon literally changed my life and became a large part of the life coaching process I teach today.

I still continue that habit of asking questions, the only difference being that now I usually ask my questions before going to sleep at night. Answers come to me in many different forms. Sometimes I’ll watch a TV show, read a book or magazine and the answer is right in front of me. At other times someone will tell me about someone, or say something that answers my question. Or, I’ll wake in the middle of the night with a flash of insight, or have a dream.

Knowing and understanding your work values can open up a lot more opportunities that will ensure you will be happy with the choices that you make.

The Seduction of Job Security

At one time I worked as an accountant for a major publishing company and I thought I’d found my dream job. I loved books. I liked the people I worked with. I met some interesting authors and after being self employed for several years it was nice to have the security of a regular income.  But it wasn’t long before I realised that the work I was doing was so boring I started dreading going to work.

Talking to my family one night I said, ‘I think I’m going to resign’. My security conscious dad begged me to reconsider. Dad said, ‘But Anne you’re an accountant!’  My dad had a very valid point as such jobs weren’t always easy to get without formal qualifications. I knew I did the job well, I was valued, my job was secure and there was the potential to move up within the company. But I also knew that I couldn’t do this work long term because it was soul destroying.  I needed a creative outlet and I needed to work with people. So I resigned and it’s a decision I’ve never regretted because within two years I was offered the position of starting and managing The Financial Woman, a financial planning business for women. That role not only suited my essential nature, it launched my writing career and set the foundation for the work I do today. Eight years later my first book was published by the very company I once worked for.

Although I like job security it is nowhere near as important to me as it is to some people.  Recently one of my daughters said to me, ‘I’m worried that if I don’t leave this job soon I am going to get locked into a career and lifestyle I don’t really want.’  My daughter has been very successful, after just a few years of working she was offered the role of setting up and managing a large medical specialist centre.  She enjoys the job and likes the people she works with but her passion is writing.  Like many people my daughter values security but fortunately Laura is more aware than most and knows the pitfalls of settling for security.

A lot of people start their adult life with so many hopes and dreams and within the span of ten years so many settle for less than they really want lured by job security, income or the expectations or needs of others until they become so locked in they feel they have no other choice, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Ignoring the call of your heart can lead to confusion or a midlife crisis.  Driven by the need to find a better way to live some seek the services of a life coach, or look for the answers in books.  If you are willing and open you can rewrite the story of your life.

Look at your life as it is today and ask yourself these questions:
Do you get more enjoyment from gardening or some other leisure activity than you do from your job?
Do you feel as if something is missing no matter how successful you are, or how many friends you have?
Are your weekends the highlight of your week?

If you answered ‘yes; to any of these questions it’s time to let go of the illusion of job security and reassess your life.  I’m not suggesting you throw in your job or do anything reckless, just take the time to reassess, be open to finding a way even where there appears to be no way, ask for help, or hire a life coach.  It’s scary to step out of your comfort zone and follow your heart but the joy that comes from being true to yourself makes the journey so worthwhile.

Looking For a Career Change?

When I worked in the corporate world, I spent months looking for a career change. I responded to ads, sent my resume off directly to companies, did a career change course, registered with recruitment firms, all to no avail. Up until that time I had always gotten most jobs I applied for, but at that time I felt stuck. There were a lot of politics in my work place, one person told outright lies about me and I was afraid that I’d end up being fired, through no fault of mine. I was frustrated, angry and afraid.

One morning as I travelled to work, dreading the day ahead, I became aware of just how much I was focusing on what I did not want. In that moment I decided to relax, give up the job hunt and I said this affirmation, “I have the perfect work in the perfect way and it will be offered to me today”. I keep repeating that affirmation for about 15 minutes as I walked to my office then forgot all about it. I focused on being positive.

A few hours later I received a call from John. I had applied for a job with John a year beforehand and had just missed out. John said, “Are you happy in your job? I might have something that would interest you.” As I talked to John he said, ‘I’ve been trying to call you for the last six months, but you’ve never been available when I’ve called”. As John was a well known personality in the financial sector he didn’t want to create problems for me at work by leaving his name and number.

I think that might have been the first time that I realised that that I had the power to block what I wanted and I also had the power to change my situation by detaching.

I got the job that John rang me about and it changed my life. I went from being an office manager to presenting seminars and talks, writing for the media, commenting on financial matters to the press as well as seeing clients and that work prepared me for the work I do today.

When we really, really, really want something or, even when we are really frustrated our attention shifts away from the object of our desires and on to what we fear. Before long most of our attention is on the fear or worry. That is why being detached from your dreams is so important. Detaching, particularly when you are afraid, is not easy to do, but remember this, it is a learned skill.

The following are some strategies you can put in place whenever you need to detach:

1. Do something to change your state. I listen to uplifting music, go for a walk, read something inspirational, meditate. Make a list of activities that make you feel good and do something to change your state whenever you find yourself getting caught up in worry.

2. Stop talking about your problems and stop looking for a solution. Do what you can, then let go. One of the easiest ways to let go is to focus on what is good about your current job or situation, keep your focus on the good in your life.

3. Choose to think and talk positively about everything in your life.

4. Do something that makes you feel good about you. I often take some time off, this might just be a few hours, or a few days. Pamper yourself.

I’ve used these simple strategies many times with great success. They always work.

To manage a career change you often need to let go. Letting go doesn’t mean giving up your dreams, although it may mean letting go of how and when you will achieve them.