We spend the majority of our day at work. So feeling fulfilled at a place you spend so much time, effort and energy is important.
Unfortunately, according to author and consultant Jim Donovan, in his book Happy At Work, most of the studies on fulfillment and happiness in the workplace report dismal results.
“A 2012 Gallup poll reported employee disengagement in U.S. companies to be as high as 70 percent, costing businesses more than $550 billion a year in lost productivity.”
Fortunately, you can adopt certain habits and perspectives to help you become more engaged and feel fulfilled.
In Happy At Work Donovan shares 60 simple strategies. Below are five suggestions from his book.
1. Get curious.
Getting curious about your job will make it more interesting, give you a sense of pride, help you feel more connected to it and enhance your value to the company, Donovan writes.
He suggests readers learn as much as they can about their company, its history, products and top management. Interestingly, he’s met plenty of people who don’t even know the name of their chief executive.
Again, learning about your company’s humble beginnings can help you feel more connected to it. For instance, you might not know that KFC founder Colonel Sanders was bankrupt when he began the franchise — at age 65. Or that, in its early days, FedEx almost went out of business several times.
2. Keep your to-do list short.
If you’d like to do more but feel less stressed, every day, focus on doing three to five of your most important tasks, according to Donovan. Make sure these tasks are tied to your goals and help you accomplish them.
3. Ask good questions.
As Albert Einstein famously said, “If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I’d spend 55 minutes determining the right question to ask. Once I got the right question, I could easily answer it in five minutes.”
Good questions are important.
Unfortunately, Donovan writes, too many people ask disempowering questions, such as “Why do I get all the lousy assignments?”; “Why don’t I ever get a break?”; “Why do I have to get out of bed so early?”; and “Why do I have to go to work today?”
Instead, ask yourself positive, engaging, empowering questions. Donovan includes these examples: “What am I looking forward to today?”; “What am I grateful for today?”; “How could I do this better and more effectively?”
Also, consider asking bigger questions. For instance, if your monthly sales goal is to get three new customers, ask yourself, “What could I do this month that would result in adding twelve more customers?” Bigger questions lead to bigger results.
4. Create empowering beliefs.
The beliefs you have about your abilities and performance naturally affect how you actually work. So it’s key to understand the perspectives you hold and to identify any limiting beliefs.
According to Donovan, whatever you say after the word “because” is typically a limiting belief. He gives this example: “I can’t make more sales because …”
When you know your limiting beliefs, replace them with empowering, affirmative ones. Donovan suggests a tip from Michael Losier, author of Law of Attraction: Start your new statement with the words “I’m in the process of …”
Donovan shares this example: “if you wish to become a better salesperson you might say, ‘I’m in the process of becoming the top salesperson in the company.”
He suggests listing three or four beliefs that prevent you from becoming the person you’d like to be. Then create an affirmation that contradicts each one “and is more in alignment with who you want to be.”
5. Shift your perspective.
If you feel like you’re going through the motions at work, Donovan suggests completing this exercise:
- “What I really enjoy about my work/business is that I _______.” (This might be anything from helping others to traveling to exotic locales.)
- “The real benefit to my customers from my work is _________.”
Just a small shift in how you view your role at work can be helpful.
“I know a building contractor whose attitude toward his work changed when he stopped thinking of himself as simply a contractor and started realizing how he helped people turn their dreams into reality. This shift had a major impact on his self-esteem, and, as a result, his income,” according to Donovan.