7 Ways to Take Ownership of Your Own Happiness at Work

By Nonprofit HR
In September 8, 2014

We believe that work is about people. The best part of having people instead of machines getting your work done? People are emotional and empathetic; we have soul.

As people, we also have the capacity to make connections and form meaningful relationships. This makes it possible to provide better service and create better solutions. The flip side of being an emotional workforce is that we get bored, hurt, tired, angry or lured away by more appealing offers and we move on to what we hope will be greener pastures.

Often, we put the responsibility on our supervisors, HR people or organization’s leadership to engage us and make us want to stay in our jobs through benefits, bonuses and other perks. I want to press you to be accountable for your own happiness and think about ways that you can make your work better for yourself.

Here are some ideas for improving your level of satisfaction with your work life that you can do on your own and won’t cost you anything:

Avoid negative conversations.

It’s too easy to get sucked into the black hole of complaining about all the things that are challenging about your work, your office environment, your boss and whatever else bugs you. Once you’re in it, it’s hard to get back out because every time you turn around you’re seeing validation of some complaint that was raised. Try to remove yourself from those conversations when they occur, and catch yourself if you’re the one starting them.

Start a new habit.Tai Chi

Changing something outside of work might improve your time at work. Try getting up earlier or going to bed earlier. Add an exercise regimen to your routine. Take a daily walk. Eat something different.

Drive change.

Take inventory of the aspects of your office, culture and work that you’d like to see changed and that you have influence over. If you have some control over something that is causing negativity, take responsibility for improving it.

Do It Yourself.Laughing

Identify something that makes you and your colleagues happy at work and make it happen. Call a dance break in the middle of the afternoon and crank some music for 5 minutes. Start making handmade cards for colleagues for work well done, just to say hi, to recognize a work anniversary or birthday. Put together a weekly laugh-letter to go out to the staff list including funny cartoons, videos, pictures or jokes (take care to keep content work-appropriate). Organize a pot-luck breakfast or lunch for everyone to bring in a favorite recipe to share and then eat together. Print pictures or quotes for your co-workers to post in their work-spaces to make them smile throughout the day. Organize a competition.

Reorganize.

Sometimes your physical environment is keeping you in a rut. Move things around on your desk to try out a new perspective. Purge old documents that are just cluttering your space. If you can, try a different furniture arrangement.

Reward yourself.

team of successful smiling young business peopleDon’t wait for a bonus or a promotion to feel like you’ve accomplished something. Take control of your own successes. When you finish a challenging project or task, take a short break to do something that makes you happy. When you feel you’ve done a good job, share the news with a colleague. Even small successes are wins and taking a moment to sit with that positivity will improve your overall experience.

Make a list.

Preferably 3 of them. One for the things that you enjoy doing at work that you’d like to do more of, one for the things that you don’t mind doing and the third for things that you currently do but wouldn’t mind having someone else take off your plate. Preferably, you want to spend at least 50% of your time on the first set of activities and less than 25% on the third set. Use these lists as a starting place for a conversation with your supervisor about areas you would like to grow and take on responsibility.

You don’t have to take my advice. It’s your life, but wouldn’t you rather enjoy the 5 days a week you spend at work rather than living for the weekend?

Have you shifted your paradigm at work to get more joy from being there? Tell us your stories in the comments.

2 Comments

  1. A big driver in work place unhappiness is unnecessary comparison. Lot of time I have seen the only goal people have is to be competing with someone else than having own personal goals and celebrating when that personal goal is achieved. For example, if I set a goal that I will increase my earning by 10% this year and achieve 12% earning increase, I should be happy. But people have the tendency where, they aim for 10%, achieve 12% and even then they are unhappy because someone else increased their earning by 15%.
    This kind of comparison goes on in so many aspects of work life and people remain perpetually unhappy.

    1. Som, you make a good point about competition driven models where success is gauged only in reference to others’ success (or lack thereof). In this scenario, exceeding your own goal is reason enough for a celebration, even if that celebration is quiet or personal. This is where personal responsibility is so important. Allowing yourself to become bitter or resentful of leadership or colleagues will lead to premature burnout, but if you celebrate your own success even with yourself or your family and friends, you can keep your focus on the positive.

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