Finding Career Happiness

Harvard Business Review recently published a series of articles about happiness in the workplace. In this blog, I summarize conclusions from the article “Creating Sustainable Performance” written by Gretchen Spreitzer and Christine Porath.

They identify a happy employee as thriving, which they define as being “satisfied and productive… and engaged in creating the future – the company’s and their own”.  I think a key point is that you have a vested interest in the success of your company; you want to make a contribution and are not merely driven by your own self interests.

They identify two components of thriving: vitality – “sense of being alive, passionate, and exited”; learning – “the growth that comes from gaining new knowledge and skills”.

They discuss five suggestions to become a thriving employee.

“Take a break. “I remember having a heavy workload while working towards a MBA. To cut through the stress, a group of five of my classmates and I would go play squash for a couple of hours. Our heart rate became elevated, endorphins kicked in, and of course there was great camaraderie. Afterwards, we got back to work with a clear, refreshed mind. Similar to refreshing the palette before tasting something new, the idea is to refresh and revive the mind with a break.

“Craft your own work to be more meaningful.”  Information is at our fingertips. For a while, I wrote blogs that were purely text. I decided to include a graphic in a blog and afterwards realized two things: I am capable of creating good graphics; and I have better feedback from my target audience. Many of the blogs became more meaningful and made more of an impact with a graphic. With advancements in technology, there are so many resources available to us to make big contributions.

“Look for opportunities to innovate and learn.” I think the best way to take an idea to something truly innovative is by listening and learning from those challenging your idea. With my concept of a professional website, I can think of many times where someone challenged my vision and not surprisingly, my first reaction is discouragement. However, after that initial hit to the gut, you figure out ways to respond to the challenge (partly because you have to). Ironically, I think every challenge I have faced has become a focal point in a blog or article. Innovation is spurred by being challenged by others.

“Invest in relationships that energize you.” This seems like common sense, you should build relationships with people who stimulate you.  We all have a handful of people who are like sparkplugs to us; they ignite us. They are people who truly listen to us, have their own insightful ideas, or know how to conceptualize the big picture. Whatever the case, you should increase your face-time with these people.

“Recognize that thriving can spill over outside the office.” The beauty in finding happiness at work is that it transcends to other areas of your life, instead of going home with complaints you have insights.  You are reinvigorated.  Instead of your happiness waxing and waning based on when you are at work, your happiness is constant.

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