Massively sobering New Year thought: in your one and only life, you will spend close to one hundred thousand hours at work. Slightly depressing thought: you spend more time with your colleagues than your own family (obviously that’s only depressing if you like your family!). And even if you live for your job, the days of bragging about sleepless nights spent at your desk or working all weekend are long gone: everybody knows now that the hospital won’t give you a badge of honour when you have a heart attack at 30, and stress will literally kill you. So, one thing is clear: you need to get your happy on at work.
That doesn’t necessarily mean being playing netball for England (which would make me incredibly happy fyi!). On a basic level it means enjoying your workplace the right amount, feeling you are able to communicate your feelings in a supportive environment, agreeing with the expectations placed on your output and time, and having some work/life balance. So, stop what you are doing and ask yourself an important question: are you happy at work?
If the answer is ‘no’, it’s likely that there are two main reasons:
1. You just hate your job. You kill kittens for a living, or you’re the Prime Minister of the UK. There is actually an easy answer to this, if you are ready to hear it: you need to find a new job, and perceived wisdom is that you should look for another job while you have one. Take some of those fancy online assessments that tell you who you are at work, and what you’ll enjoy. If you can afford it, invest in an hour or two with a career coach, who will often offer reduced rates for individuals rather than companies. Executive Coach Andrew Wood says ‘The career decisions we make are deeply personal, complex and important. Working with a good coach can help you get curious about what you REALLY want, open up new options and directions to explore, and make a plan that you can commit to.’
So that’s one reason you might hate Mondays. A second reason is more complicated:
2. You actually love your job, but something is bursting your happy balloon.
So, let’s say you are an event professional. You love the thrill of organising beautiful, brilliant events but there is something toxic about your office. Maybe it’s unrealistic deadlines or expectations, or confusing systems. It could be an unsupportive manager, or colleagues who think they are in Game of Thrones (the political backstabbing, not the dragons). Maybe it’s ridiculously long hours, and you haven’t even seen the outside of the gym for a month: you are literally doing butt clenches at your desk to stay in shape. Work Misery is a THING and you need to deal with it because work occupies too much of your life not to! So (drum roll….) here are E&TC top tips for getting Work Happy in 2019:
Read the right books. Amazon is packed full of inspiring reads that will show you how other people chased their dreams or managed their days better to achieve success, or just found what they loved doing. Put Instagram down and invest some solid library time in yourself. We like Life Is Not a Game of Perfect, by Bob Rotella. It looks like it’s about golf, but it’s really not. But there are loads of others, so find something that speaks to you.
BELIEVE WHAT YOU BELIEVE
Take some time to understand your values: it’s been proved that extreme work unhappiness can arise when you have a very different set of values to your boss, as Laura Kean from KEAN L&D says, ‘Our values are our core, fundamental beliefs, the things that are really important to us. They inform our actions, our decisions, and how we treat others. If we’re working with someone whose values are the complete opposite of ours that’s going to make for some uncomfortable interactions. Understanding your own values can help to identify the roles and organisations that will motivate you and make you happy and more productive at work.’ So, take the time to try to understand each other, and whether you are a good fit. (Obviously If they are just plain bad people – harassment of any kind is unacceptable- then document it and report it PRONTO and get their nasty ass out of there).
ASK FOR HELP
This one is absolutely fundamental: nobody needs you to be a martyr. Honestly and unemotionally communicate to your boss what you can achieve and by when, and what will take a little longer. Find and reach out to companies or resources that will help you, who have already run a shortlist of those venues you are looking for, or the merchandise that will impress in your next set of giveaways. You can use the online resources at E&TC, or if you have some budget you can talk to one of our experts and get them to do a little or a lot of it for you. Remember: asking for help isn’t weakness, it’s strength. And it’s effective project management. It’s doing your job properly and taking responsibility for your own deadlines and mental health. It’s what you should be doing.
DON’T WORK FOR BAD PEOPLE OR BAD SYSTEMS
If the problem is your boss, and you have tried and failed to resolve it with them, then speak to HR. If you have no HR, find a friend or someone in your network who can give you some advice, or ways of coping, but be prepared: they may tell you to just cut your losses and look for something else. Sometimes it’s just a personality clash. If it’s the systems that don’t work don’t just moan or backbite. Suggest how you can make them better. Adapt things to make them work for you. Remember: you can’t just throw tantrums at work and expect respect. Be a part of finding the solutions.
GOOD ENOUGH IS GREAT
Perfection will haunt you like a house on Netflix so repeat after me: perfection doesn’t exist. Your bar needs to change sometimes, so move it yourself. Take ownership of your output.
GET REALLY ORGANISED
Use the organisations tools at your disposal such as generalist project management tools like Calendly for meetings, or Harvest for time-tracking. Or use a tool created specifically for your sector, like the EventBuddy platform for event professionals on the E&TC website.
Planning is key to happiness so focus your to-do list on your week and split that out in to what you can realistically achieve each day. Then, when you have ticked everything off for Monday you will feel like you’ve won gold, and you can close your laptop and get happy in the gym, or the bar, or at bingo (delete as appropriate).
So that’s it. Put your own happiness at the top of your to-do list, and watch everything feel better.
Two more links we like on this:
Mentalhealth.org.uk – work-life balance
23 ways to be happy