Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness by Kerry Hannon

Introduction. Start the day with gusto. Focus all your efforts on a task. Stay fully present when needed. Value yourself and charge accordingly. Be optimistic and look at what went right. Push in fresh directions. Network more. Learn to go places. It is possible to learn lessons even from your dog.

Curing the Workplace Blues. When were you last excited about work? How to reignite the passion/excitement for your job? Most people are not satisfied with their jobs. Job satisfaction is at an all-time low. People are also changing jobs more frequently. Job security might not always be there. Promotional prospects may not always be clear and defined clearly. Quitting isn’t such a good idea unless you have secured something else already. Unemployment can go on for prolonged periods of time. Sometimes, one needs to take a hard look at themselves. Even if you find small rewards, it is possible to keep going. You need patience to keep going. Try to follow your heart when looking for a job you like. However, quitting and entering a new career might not be feasible for some. Money is a big issue as well. Learn to fall in love with your work again. It is important to make work your source of joy, not just for a pay-check. Some people suffer from job fatigue and burn-out. Be wary of the symptoms of job burnout. Be careful as you might unknowingly turn to substance abuse. Complaining without doing anything won’t change the situation. ‘Speak now or forever hold your peace’. Speak up if things are not right. You have to take ownership of your work and ask how you can improve at your work/job. For instance, you could try learning someone else’s work. Get a kick out of learning something new. Look hard at your habits, routines which you can change. Take control of your workplace happiness. It is really possible to learn to love your job. Some form of exertion/challenge is important for you to like it. We all dread the Sisyphean condition. Adopt the HOVER (Hope, Optimism, Value, Enthusiasm, and Resilience) mind-set. Always keep an open mind and be open to possibilities. Mid-career workers tend to avoid challenges as they feel they don’t have the right skills to cope. Learn to keep at least 3 to 5 year goals. To love your job, one also needs to take care of your body. Autonomy and empowerment are the key to success. Never ever lose sight of the goal. Do it for yourself. If your immediate boss sucks, you might need to take immediate action.

Creating the Blueprint for Your Dream Job. Do some soul-searching. Write down the aspects of the job that give you meaning. Putting it down helps you gain clarity. Write down exactly what you do outside work. Identify the specific aspects of work which you dislike. To me, my job is a passion and mission. The joy of the finished product is important for me. Document what are the skills necessary for you to thrive at work. Write down your dream job title. Our jobs are an integral part of our persona. It gives us a sense of pride. Ask yourself what are your main priorities in life? Is it to attain a high income? All of us want to make a difference in our workplace. If your job scope keeps changing, treat it as a challenge. You don’t have to be the 70% who doesn’t feel engaged at their work. Document what are the aspects which make your job alive. There will always be magic moment in your work. People who can see meaning in their work are less likely to job-hop. People with supportive supervisors are also less likely to quit. Remember that you are the architect of your career. You may lose interest in your job if you lose the human touch of not connecting with colleagues etc. Learn to have more face-to-face conversations. Are you present in your workplace? Try and communicate your passion with others at your workplace. Master your current role and find ways to expand it. Spend more time with people whom you hardly talk to in your company. Put energy into the things you like. Establish your work goals. Try to get involved in a special project etc. A career is not a ladder, it is a jungle gym. For instance, you can obtain lateral moves to another department. Listen to your internal compass. You may not simply be after a job title or high pay. Consider hiring a career coach if you can afford it. However, please perform your due diligence on them first. You have to trust the person enough for you to reveal information etc.

Do an MRI on your Work and your life. Complaining about your job gets you nowhere. Change comes from within. Unearth the ingredients that cause your unhappiness. Be willing to make compromises. In your 50s, changing job is almost impossible. Sometimes, it is appreciation that you are after. Write down the key areas of your life that matter to you. Find out whether you work better in a team etc. Are you a self-starter? Do you like your co-workers etc? Create a job budget and weigh the pros and cons. Review it every few months ‘What does your work really mean to you?’ You must understand what your motivations for work are and what needs your work are meeting. There are some people who just work for the love of it, not for the money. Why do people work? 1) identity; 2) meaning; 3) community; 4) engagement; 5) money; 6) benefits like life insurance; 7) validation Ask yourself what are you getting out of work? Jot down the moments when you feel stressed or disinterested. Training can make a big difference and keep you interested in your work. If you are working long hours, find out which aspects of work you can delegate or be more efficient in. Is your desk too messy that it is affecting your productivity? Learn to unclutter. You might not be able to change a bad boss, but you can view him or her differently. Start small and move the ball forward slowly. Check and monitor your progress using a to-do list etc. Keep a journal for self-musing. Consider taking a self-assessment test. One test to consider is the Myer-Briggs personality indicator test. Ultimately, you have to choose happiness. Find ways to make a positive contribution at work.

Refresh Your Attitude – The Keystone to Your Love Your Job Action Plan. It’s not realistic for everyone to say ‘Love your job and you’ll never work another day in your life’. Sometimes, we all feel challenged at work. The job is what you make of it. Refresh your inner mentality. Ask for new projects and hone new skills. If you feel bored, chances are that you will hate your job. Take a breather and relax. Develop a strategy to change things. Try not to waste time over the petty stuff at home. Seek a change in your work culture. Challenge yourself to find ways to improve your work processes and efficiency. The small things can make a huge difference. A positive thought a day can change things. You can create purpose at work by changing your tasks or building relationships at work. Having the human touch at work matters. Write down all the negative thoughts you experience. Use affirmations to guide you. A positive image in the morning and help you through your day. Hope is vital. Optimism involves you to take an upbeat view of your work. Keep a journal and be grateful for the little things that have happened. You can use hand-written emails. Value is critical. To increase your sense of value, it is important to keep learning new things on the job. This will turn your mind on. It is important to get your mind engaged. When you are enthusiastic, people want to be around you. Be eager to take on new assignments. Resilient people do not get bogged down with the past and look forward. Get your HOVER on. It isn’t normal for one to stay on in the same job for life. Resilience involves anticipating risk and change. Get connected to your colleagues and network. Learn to choose optimism. Learn something new. Think like an entrepreneur and find ways to add to your own branding. Look at the big picture and write down your vision statement. Get in shape and manage your energy levels. Be thankful for the fact that you are employed and earning a decent wage. Focus on the people around you. Surround yourself with positive people and learn to slow down. What if you are bullied at work? Size up the situation. Document the episodes of bullying so that you will have evidence against the person. Talk to the bully and be polite about it. Take your complaint to a higher power. There is no need to inform others that you are looking for a job. Re-connect with your old friends as you never know where those connections might take you. Money woes at home will affect your ability to concentrate at work. Ensure that you have sufficient savings for retirement. You can take up free courses in investing to earn passive income which you desire. Create a budget for your account. You need to be in decent physical shape to perform your best in your workplace. Keep walking. Regular sleeping patterns can provide the boost of energy you need. Meditation can help you calm down and relax.

So if you can just do one thing to make a change right now, learn something new. If you can’t make it work related, do it in the context of your life. – Kerry Hannon

Beyond the Job Description. Do things on the edges of your job. No one will redesign the job for you. You will need to do it yourself. Give back to the industry that you are in. You need to enjoy your work now, and not someday in the future. IBM has a corporate service corps that helps people build their skills and hone their leadership potential. You must ask what you want to get out of life. Volunteering, sponsoring and mentoring are some of the ways to get your energy back. Volunteer in an NGO. Check with your HR whether there are such programmes available. Large corporations usually have a big CSR event. Try to mentor someone else in your office. Sponsoring means helping the other person to grow in their career. Aggressively seek to promote their careers. Also, look for mentorship opportunities outside your firm. Career mentoring is very important nowadays. It is also possible to find mentees in University settings etc. If you have a sponsor, chances are that you will be more motivated at your workplace. To motivate yourself at work, get up to speed with your industry. Read the trade publications to understand the latest trends. Do some sleuthing to find out new opportunities in the department. Ask for new duties. Believe that you can handle these new duties. Say yes to new responsibilities. Adjust the way you connect with your co-workers. Step away from complaining about work. Instead, support your co-workers when they are down. Lunch with your new colleagues and forge bondings with them. Make eye-contact with your co-workers. Laugh more. Even if you hate your boss, don’t let this affect your work output. Your work is your reputation. Start building that trust with your boss and ensure that you can deliver the projects on time as you promised. Keep a paper trail of your difficult interactions with your boss. Take a poker face and do not flare up or whine excessively when you are unhappy. Get to know your boss better. Here are 10 ways for you to manage a younger boss. 1) Manage your attitude; 2) Talk about the elephant in the room; 3) Concentrate on what you have to offer; 4) Find the silver lining; 5) Get hip to texting; 6) Prepare for less face time; 7) Note your latest achievements; 8) Steer clear from age-centric comments; 9) Keep your skills current; 10) Don’t act old. Keep track of which activities give away your personal satisfaction. Cut back on the interruptions. Work smart so that you feel in the zone and feel engaged in your work. Learn to delegate simple tasks. Stop procrastinating on work assignments. Get involved in extra-curricular activities. Pick up hobbies outside work.

Everyone must keep growing and developing, gaining intellectual stimulation as a way of guarding against the inevitable disappointments that come with any job. – Paul Drucker

No matter how difficult your boss is, keep your side of the street clean. If your unhappiness with him impacts your work output in any way, and you let it affect your productivity, or start withdrawing or calling in sick, that will come to bite you, not him. Your work is your reputation. – Kerry Hannon

Seriously, procrastination is a losing proposition for you and for those who are depending on you to deliver the goods. Learn to recognize its signs. It might be that you click onto a news story to read online, and that leads to another link and then another. The trick is to find a way to reward yourself for tackling an assignment that you’re trying to avoid. – Kerry Hannon

How to Build Flexibility into Your Job. Flexible hours will tend to motivate one to work harder. You can also partake in the activities that you like. Working from home gives you autonomy and control over your time. Flexibility matters as you get older. People are motivated by different things. Not that many people are motivated by pay. The accounting sector is known for allowing employees work flexibility. Remember that it is important to keep your skills sharp. It is great if you have control over when you work. Is telework for you? Can you make it work? However, working from home also has its risks. It might inhibit career growth. Your manager may not know how well you are performing. If you let your job morph into your life, that spells trouble. Firstly, your workday might have no limits. Therefore, it is important for you to establish that. It is important for telecommuters to remain connected to the office. It is important to maintain face-time with your colleagues/employer. You might miss out on workplace connections if you tele-work. Try your best to meet your colleagues for lunch face-to-face etc. Check in with your supervisor once in a while. Network with those people in your industry. Put enough money into your 401(k) to ensure you have enough for retirement.

How to Upgrade Your Game. If there is something you want to learn, you should be proactive about it. Learning doesn’t have to be job related or job specific. Learning shifts your brain. When you stop learning, your brain will de-generate. Learning is lifelong in nature. Your mood improves when you learn. Seek out openings. Be accountable for your job. It is important to have faith in your abilities. Do not harbour negative stereotypes about older workers. Learn to think like an entrepreneur. Workers need to stay relevant in their jobs. Transform your life on an on-going basis. Besides learning, you need to be a doer as well. You can learn when you travel and experience a new culture. For courses, try to get your company to support if possible. Track down related programmes so that you can learn. There are many online courses like Coursera which you can sign up for. You might try certification programmes. If your firm is good, consider taking a sabbatical. A short sabbatical of up to 2 months would be sufficient. You must also think how the sabbatical benefit the company can. Ultimately, you are the architect of your career.

What gives your job meaning and the occasional flashes of magic is getting smarter in the process, adding value not only to your own bag of tricks but as a way to help your company achieve as well. – W. Timothy Gallwey

How to have the ‘What’s Next?’ talk with your boss. It is unlikely that you will get what you want without asking for it. Persuade your boss that you would like a change. The time is now. Firms are thinking of ways of how to retain employees. Understand that if you are good, the boss will need you. You must be sure of what you are asking for. Are you passionate about what you want? How quickly do you want something to happen? You need to go through the following 6 steps: 1) What’s in It for them?; 2) Play your cards close to your chest; 3) Talk to colleagues who have made similar changes; 4) tweak your elevator speech; 5) Make a formal presentation; 6) Make Some Noise. It is important to negotiate pay when you first join and along the course of your career too. If you want a higher pay, you need to show what additional work you have done. A 5% increment is normal. A 10% increment is more suitable for a promotion. Do not give an ultimatum or you might lose your job. Consider taking on special projects in the company. Do your current job to the best of your ability. Practise and memorize your pitch. If you want to quit, make sure you have an exit strategy. You have, to some extent, a power to change your attitude at work.

What do you have to lose? Your supervisor can always say no, and you’re right where you are now. But if you say nothing, management will never know that you’re ready to take on different duties or learn something new, or even that you’re unhappy where you are. – Kerry Hannon

Ideas for Further Reading. The inner game of work: Focus, Learning, Pleasure and mobility in your workplace by W. Timothy Gallwey. Leading the life you want: skills for integrating work and life by Stewart D. Friedman.

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