REMEMBERING WHAT HAPPINESS LOOKS LIKE (PART 2)
A few weeks ago I wrote a post called . It was inspired by the realization that sometimes I am so focused on succeeding and pleasing others that I forget that work is actually supposed to be something that I enjoy.
Ideally we should take the time to step away and do some deep reflection but honestly as I navigate all my obligations to work, friends, and family, creating time for a personal offsite falls pretty far down on the list.
Over the years I have come up with some simple ways to remind myself daily that happiness at work is a realistic goal.
Start a Feel Good Folder - I have a hanging file folder where I keep notes from employees and colleague’s, thank you’s from clients, a few performance appraisals and press clippings - basically anything that makes me feel good. Some of it is silly, some of it no one else would understand, but it all makes me happy. Whenever I have those inevitable crummy days, a few minutes flipping through my file puts the bad stuff into the larger perspective.
Keep Photos of Moments that Matter – I always have a few photos in my office that signify the moments that matter to me. Right now I have photos of my family camping, kids I met on a recent trip to Ethiopia and a work photo of a particularly awesome moment with my team. The work photo reminds me of what I love about my job and the other photos remind me of why work is only one piece of who I am.
Take a Strengths Finder Assessment - I really believe in focusing on the things we are good at rather than the areas where we are weak. I remember a former head of sales saying that he had stopped worrying about feedback critical of his analytic skills and was focusing on using his great relationship skills to close deals. He went on to become a highly successful Division President. If you are not sure of your strengths Tom Rath's is a great investment. For the $15.00 price it includes an assessment tool that nailed my primary strengths (Learner, Relator, Achiever, Maximizer). I printed them out on a card, framed it and put it prominently on my desk. It is both a reminder of my best skills as well as a great conversation starter with people in my office.
Commit to the 5 Minute Journal – The benefits of journaling are well documented but lets face it most of us struggle to make the time. So don't make it so difficult. Commit to just a few minutes at the end of the day to jot down something you feel good about or were inspired by or want to try. You can keep it in a digital form in a tool like Evernote or in a beautiful handmade journal. What matters is that you start to make reflection a short, painless habit. Then when you have more time you have a place to turn to for themes and insights about what is and isn’t working for you.
Collect Some Mementos – Artifacts are a really helpful way to stay connected to what we love at work. For one friend it was an amazing collection of badges from all the industry conferences he had been to over the years. For another it was displaying framed stills from ads she had worked on. For me it is the tiny carved walrus given to me by a team I managed years ago in Alaska. It reminds me that what I love is helping people realize their potential.
At its best, work is a calling. A place to use our unique talents in ways that give us joy as well as help us pay our bills. Sometimes we settle for less for good reasons, but keeping clear reminders of when we are at our best, is a good step towards creating the right opportunities.
I would love to hear your ideas for how you keep happiness at work front and center.
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