If your goal is to get happy, focus on your work-life. (You spend most of your time there!)
Wondering what you can to do have a better time at work? Our friends at Happify have science-based tips on how focusing on your work-life balance can help you find more passion and purpose in your job.
If your goal is to get happy, focus on your work life. Americans spend about half of their waking hours on the job, and being energized and excited by the work you do can have a big impact on how upbeat you feel.
Not sure where to start? Reinvent your career the same way you would change your health, relationships and other aspects of your life: with small steps and a clear plan. We’ve recruited two career pros to help you succeed at work, whether you’ve just landed a new position or are one of the old-timers around the office.
Here’s how to feel happier + be more successful at work.
1. Practice ‘yoga’ while you work.
Forget poses at your desk: This is all about mindset. It’s time to “get flexible, mindful and stay open,” says Matt Morscheck, a career counselor and the talent development specialist at FamilyCare Health Plans, in Portland, Ore. “Careers today are less about creating detailed long-term plans for achieving goals, and more about strengthening daily habits of flexibility, optimism, learning, partnering and resiliency.”
Does your boss keep talking about creating a presence on social media? Set up an account, search for best practices and get going. Working off-script like this “challenges us to stay active and nimble, frequently recalibrate to meet shifting demands, and always be prepared to take advantage of new opportunities as they present themselves,” Morscheck says.
In our quickly evolving and changing workforce, it’s important to rise to the occasion rather than long for the way things used to be.
2. Identify your internal assets.
How many times have you taken on a project at work, only to learn that another colleague has been tasked with something similar, or has access to a lot of the information you need?
Joining forces can lighten your workload, bring fresh ideas to the table and help all involved shine. “Find out who the stars are in your company and department and find shared opportunities, ways you can both benefit,” says Adam Reiter, founder of Career Kung Fu, a career coaching business.
You might collaborate on a project, create a process to pass leads and information back and forth, or simply invite an internal subject-matter expert to a brainstorming session. People are often a company’s biggest asset, so come up with ways to engage the ones around you so that everyone wins.
3. Turn on the self-promotion.
The humblebrag shouldn’t be relegated to Facebook! The office is an important place to broadcast your wins and let those around you know what you’re capable of. Just keep in mind that there’s a fine balance between softly sharing accolades with the right people and blasting everyone with your successes.
“Detail your wins during regular check-ins with your boss,” Reiter says. “She will see you as a star performer and trusted asset. Plus, it allows you the ability to check your performance so you know where you stand and provides the basis for promotion opportunities and succession planning.”
As in: Allow these check-ins to be a back-and-forth conversation, not just an announcement. We’ve all got room to grow.
4. Find a network of mentors.
Wisdom says you should be working today to prepare yourself for a job opportunity that might open up tomorrow. But what if you’re not exactly sure what you want to do, let alone how to get there? “The most successful careers are built in relationship with others—trusted advisors who can provide support, perspective and honest feedback,” Morscheck says. These mentors and advisors can offer advice and insight on current projects and long-term aspirations.
Consider reaching out to former bosses or teachers, acquaintances you admire or even strangers in the same industry whose career path you hope to follow. You can also hire a career coach or counselor for guidance.
5. Ask for an investment.
“Once you’ve identified an aspiration to change your work situation, to learn something new, to advance to a higher role or to make a significant change in the type of work you’re doing, it’s important that you find ways to let this be known, even if nobody is asking,” Morscheck says.
Your colleagues and superiors can offer guidance, and if your goals and aspirations align with your organization’s goals, the company might offer financial support, too. “Leading organizations understand that supporting employee career development is not only a nice thing to do, it’s also good business—so as individual employees we must do our part to let ourselves be known,” Morscheck says.
He suggests framing your pursuits in terms of what you’re “most excited to learn next,” or “areas of growth that are drawing your attention,” or better yet, how your career aspirations can help your company, department or boss be more successful.
6. Look for consistent + reliable wins.
This may sound counterintuitive, particularly if you’re new to a job or organization, but hitting home runs at work is not a winning strategy. “It’s hard to repeat major accomplishments with good frequency,” Reiter says. “Focus only on knocking out game-changing wins and you’ll strike out a lot. That’s not what you what you want to be known for.”
Instead, he says, try to hit a lot of singles, and often. Does your sales team need to increase its reach? It might be better to start with small changes in your script rather than a costly social media campaign. “You are as good as your last win,” Reiter says. “Win often and you will keep reminding decision makers that you are a consistent and reliable winner.”
7. Build allies around the building.
There’s that old allegory about being nice to the mail boy because someday he may be your boss. It’s never been truer than now, with careers taking unexpected twists and turns and emerging industries making stars out of sometimes unlikely employees. But even if the receptionist stays the receptionist, he can be a good friend to have.
“Take someone at the company to lunch or coffee every week that you believe provides no immediate gain,” Reiter says. By investing in the people around you without an agenda, you will become someone who is universally known and liked.
At first you’ll earn the reputation of a nice person or a team player. But over time, as you’re able to leverage some of these relationships, you’ll be thought of as a well-connected strategist. “Allow people to know you organically and vice-versa,” Reiter says. “Your success depends on this.”
Learn how to fuel Your success at work through science-based activities on Happify.
For more strategies on how to be successful and happy at work, plus personalized activities, games and quizzes that will teach you how to apply these skills in your daily life, sign up for Happify’s Career track. You’ll learn how to fuel your success at work, feel more passionate about your career and improve relationships, while developing your own happiness skills at the same time.
Written for Happify by Jessica Cassity. She writes about health, fitness and happiness for publications including Self, Shape, Health, Women’s Health, and Family Circle. Her first book, Better Each Day: 365 Expert Tips for a Healthier, Happier You, was published in 2011.