Several years ago the university where I work redesigned our adult,
working student curriculum. Many of
these part-time students/full-time employees were returning to school after
leaving college decades earlier, others were entering college for the first
time, and still others were coming back for a second degree. No matter what their background these students
shared a similar struggle. These students are not unique. The workplace is littered with disengaged,
They longed to find happiness and fulfillment at work.
There are those
who pass the time by counting the minutes until time to clock out, others wish
for a different job, still others regret decisions made years ago that have created
a feeling of entrapment in a dead end job.
The good news is there is a way out.
Here are some tools design to build a happier work life.
Finding balance means you set priorities and develop boundaries. People with a strong sense of balance place self-care
above boss-pleasing, manage their energy rather than time, and learn to put
“first things first.”
Tool: Keep track of your schedule for one
week. Beside each activity put a ” +” if
the activity adds to your level of energy and a “-“ if it zaps you of energy.
Categorize your activities to determine where you are spending the majority of
your time and energy. Make adjustments
to increase the number and times you engage in energy producing activities.
Our culture places high emphasis on multi-tasking. In fact, it is seen as a badge of honor to be
busy. Research, however, strongly
indicates multitasking and over-commitment decreases our work performance, our
self-esteem, and eventually our happiness.
Slowing down and concentrating on one activity at a time keeps us from
becoming slaves to our frantic schedules, allowing us to master an activity
before moving on to the next.
Tool: Use the STING
technique. Select one task to do at a time.
Time yourself using a clock
for no more than one hour. Ignore everything else during that
time. No breaks or interruptions should be permitted. Give
yourself a reward when the time is up.
Research by the Gallup
organization reveals that when employees are able to do what they do best at
least once a day, they are more fulfilled and engaged on the job. We spend so much time trying to be
well-rounded and fix our weaknesses, we often ignore those things where we are
naturally strong. Ironically, our
greatest opportunity for personal growth lies in our areas of strength.
Buy the book StrengthFinder 2.0 by
Tom Rath. Take the assessment and begin
to develop your strengths.
Any job can have meaning if approached with a positive attitude.
One key for staying motivated
on the job is to connect with your own personal goals. You do not have to love your job to be happy
at work. Some people work to provide for
their family, providing meaning and purpose in the economic stability a job
allows. Others find meaning in
friendships they build at work. Still
others find fulfillment in the realization that by effectively doing they are
serving others and helping others excel.
List the people who would suffer if you did not show up for work, quit
your job, or your position was eliminated.
Practicing mindfulness means
you are living in the moment. When you
practice mindfulness you are able to observe the current situation free from
the guilt of the past or worry about the future. People who regularly practice mindfulness
are happier and more at peace. They
don’t try to control or manipulate events.
They take action when necessary, but focus only on important, controllable
Tool: Draw two intersecting circles. Label one circle “things that are important” and
the other “things within my control.”
Hang this Venn diagram where you can easily see it. Before reacting to situations, analyze them
through this lens asking, “Is the situation important enough for me to respond?
and “Is the outcome of the situation within my control?” If you cannot answer yes to both these
questions, refrain from taking action.
Although there are many paths
to happiness, research strongly indicates the most impactful is showing
gratitude. Living a life believing the
glass is half-full is one of the most powerful things you can do to improve
your lot in life. I have personally
witnessed miserable employees become engaged and fulfilled at work through the
simple act of practicing gratitude on a daily basis.
At an intersection you pass everyday on your way to work, list the
things in your life for which you are grateful.
Think of three new things everyday.
Remember, happiness is a
choice and can be gained through intentionality. The above exercises can go a long way to
improve your happiness at work and in life.
Dr. Bevalee Vitali is an
Associate Professor of Business at Christian Brothers University. When not in
the classroom, she works as a contract trainer in corporations and non-profit
organizations, focusing upon leadership and personal development, employee
development, and well-being.
The Galleon is curated and managed by Christian Brothers University, a Memphis-based university founded in the Lasallian tradition (a sect within the Catholic faith). Part of our founding mission is to uphold respect for all persons-regardless of political, religious, or social beliefs. As an institution, we take no stand on political matters; to do so would undermine our commitment to intellectual inquiry and thoughtful response to events taking place in our World by members of the CBU community.