How to be Happier at Work

When even the thought of going to work fills you with a sense of dread, there’s definitely something wrong. Not everyone is going to love what they do all the time, or even every day, but overall, your work should be fulfilling, give you a sense of purpose or a feeling of satisfaction. If you’re having serious trouble putting on a happy face at work, here are some tips to try. 

Set goals

According to psychologist Steven Kramer and Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile, your work life is much richer when you’re making progress on meaningful work. How to know that you’re making progress? By setting goals. Ideally, you’ll have a set of short, medium and long-term goals to work toward. For a short-term goal, you might endeavor finish a project by the end of the week. Long-term, you might work toward learning a new skill or finishing a higher degree. 

To get good at goal setting, use the SMART acronym, standing for “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.” The goal should be specific, such as “complete X project,” and measurable, meaning it’s clear when you’ve achieved it, and possible to attain given your skill set and time constraints. It should also be relevant to your career, and you should name a time by which you’ll have it done. 

Recognize others

Call it an “attitude of gratitude” or whatever else you want -- but another way to gain meaning out of work is to add meaning for others. Spend a few moments of each day recognizing the efforts of others, and thanking them for what you appreciate in their work. That’s going to create a better overall mood in the workplace, as well as increasing the odds that you’ll be on the receiving end of the gratitude chain more often. 

Avoid the gossip mongers

Spending time gossiping with others does have one benefit: You’ll be on the pulse of what’s happening in the office, and might be better able to anticipate when people are moving or things are changing. Still, it’s also going to peg you as someone who gossips -- and someone who others might also gossip about. Surround yourself instead with positive people who focus on bettering themselves, and not on the foibles of other people. 

Do less

You have a lot on your plate, and that can lead you to feeling like you need to go non-stop to get everything done. Counter intuitively, it’s the time you spend not working that can help you get the most done. Brain breaks throughout the day help you regain focus. They can include talking a short walk, sipping your coffee uninterrupted, or simply taking time out to clear your head and think. 

For most people, work is work, and something you do to put food on the table and to pay your bills. Still, you don’t have to dread every minute of it. By taking care of your own needs and appreciating the work of others, you could be on the path toward a more pleasant work experience. 

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