This week I have put happiness at work right in centre stage, and concentrate on what we can each do for ourselves to be happier at work, no matter what our current circumstances. And thus, this means also looking at some of the skills we need to expand and strengthen our self-mastery.
It is interesting and exciting to us that the science of happiness at work really does seem to growing, both as a field of legitimate study and as a beacon of interest for professionals wanting to increase their own success and the success of their teams and organisations.
We know from our work making learning programmes with a variety of different professionals and organisations, that ‘happiness’ can seem, at best, like a luxurious extra, only to be contemplated when the harder agenda of results, efficiencies, increased performance and productive relationships have been achieved, and, at worst, like an irrelevant piece of frippery that has no place whatsoever in the serious business of business.
But we know, too, from the growing research findings, case studies, intelligence garnered from psychology, neurology, biology and economics, as well as our own experience with what works best, that happiness at work is a baseline essential for all of the other outcomes we aim to accomplish: high quality results, customer service and staff relationships, peak performance and productivity, high motivation and engagement, successful learning, creativity and resilience and high levels of employee loyalty, commitment and retention.
And we now know conclusively, too, that ‘happiness’ is the engine that drives and sustains all of these outcomes, not the other way around.
by Alexander Kjerulf
(This article is adapted from Happy Hour is 9 to 5: How to Love Your Job, Love Your Life and Kick Butt at Work.)
…if raises, bonuses, perks and promotions aren’t the key to a happy work life, what is?
This has been the subject of extensive research over the last few decades, and it seems it comes down to two things: results and relationships.
One Key to Work Happiness: Results
Results is about making a difference at work, knowing that your job is important, getting appreciation and doing work that you can be proud of.
Results comes from having all the resources, skills, training and time to do a really good job. But it also comes from your own attitude. Do you actually care about the quality of your work or are you just putting in the hours?
Three great ways to get that feeling of results:
Offer and receive praise and recognition Great workplaces have a culture of recognition, where people who do good work are acknowledged and praised.
Celebrate success In many companies, a project that goes well is never mentioned again and a lot of time is spent finding and fixing mistakes. I say: We should turn that around and be sure to celebrate the results we achieve.
Help others One hallmark of a toxic workplace is that everyone is in it for themselves. In great workplaces, people freely help each other whenever they can, boosting everyone’s performance.
Another Key to Work Happiness: Relationships
Relationships are about liking the people you work with, having a good manager and feeling like you belong.
In short, we are happy at work when we do great work together with great people. Three great ways to create good workplace relationships:
Say “good morning” It seems banal (and honestly it is), but actually saying a friendly cheerful “good morning” to your co-workers helps create better relationships.
Take breaks together More and more people feel so busy at work that they skip coffee breaks and eat lunch alone at their desk. That’s a shame.
Make sure to take breaks with your co-workers and use them as a chance to connect.
Offer random acts of workplace kindness Do little things to surprise and delight co-workers, like bringing someone a cup of coffee out of the blue.
Happiness in the workplace is something of a double-edged sword. Yes, having happy employees is critical to the success of any company, but there are plenty of ways that bending over backwards to put a smile on your workers’ faces can backfire. As with everything else, balance is key.
Myth #1: Employees should be kept happy 24/7
Let’s start simple. As a boss, you’re neither able nor expected to be in charge of your employees’ happiness every second of every workday.
The thing about employee culture is that participation should never be compulsory. Yes, you should encourage employees to get together outside of regular business hours, but don’t force it. That kind of “extracurricular” contact could go a long way toward helping your team work more effectively together while they’re on the clock; encourage it, but don’t try to mandate it.
What any boss needs to understand is that the people he or she oversees have lives of their own, with individual hopes, desires, worries, sources of stress and, yes, plans for what they want to do after work. We are not our job descriptions, after all.
Employees have plenty of their own reasons for being less than enthusiastic on any given day. If their discontent has something to do with working conditions, then you have your work cut out for you. But if it’s something to do with their personal lives? Well, then, that’s really not your concern unless it starts to interfere with their work.
Onno Hamburer, the author of the Happiness at Work e-book, understands that negative feelings are a part of daily life: “…Even when things are going well, we sometimes need negative feelings, as they serve as a warning when there is a chance that things may go wrong. Negative emotions also help bring about change.”
Trying to create happiness is putting the cart before the horse. If you focus first and most intently on creating a welcoming environment with a high hiring bar, your happiness “problem” will probably take care of itself.
Myth #2: The ‘good guy boss’ is the best kind of boss
Being a boss obviously brings with it a host of challenges, and chief among them is the whole identity crisis thing.
What I mean is that there are a number of management styles available to you, and while you’ll probably find that some combination of them will get you the best results, there are still stereotypes that you’ll want to avoid.
One of these is the “good guy boss.” This is the boss who wants to be everybody’s best friend – who feels honour-bound to wear a smile, say yes all the time, and generally sacrifices objectivity for artifice.
I understand the appeal; everybody wants to be liked. And, yes, to a certain extent, being a likeable boss is pretty essential to morale. Just keep in mind that being likedand being effective are not always the same thing.
So what does the good guy boss look like? He’s the one who’s always smiling, even though it looks a little bit more pained than it used to. He’s the one who never says noto his employees, even when it will hurt the company.
Here’s the thing – being a good guy boss every second of the day could actually hurt you. Here’s how:
- Your employees won’t bring serious issues to your attention. You probably have people in your life who can’t handle criticism; we all run into them from time to time. If you’re the kind of boss who’s unrealistically positive every day, you’re going to give the impression that you don’t want to hear bad news or receive constructive criticism, however badly they may be needed.
- You’ll be putting unnecessary pressure on your employees. Employee expectations are essential, but you don’t usually see “relentlessly sunny disposition” on the list of prerequisites. Being a good guy boss puts quite a lot of pressure on your employees to match the intensity of your smile and optimism, when the truth is that contentment is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.
- Your customers may not respect you. Customers are always going to be interested in how their business partners treat their employees. This is particularly true in the retail scene, but it holds up in just about every industry. They want to know that you have the respect and trust of your employees, but if you try too hard to be the good guy boss, your customers will think you’re a pushover.
I’m not saying it’s impossible or inappropriate to be a positive, well-liked, and optimistic boss; the only danger comes from replacing things like objectivity and honesty with artifice. Your focus needs to be on creating an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, rather than on being liked no matter what.
Myth #3: Happiness is not the same thing as engagement
Despite what Gallup might tell you, happiness is not the same thing as engagement, no matter how often we use them interchangeably.
I’m going to make a slightly ridiculous comparison, so bear with me. If you’ve ever owned a cat, you probably know that they go crazy for string. You can drag it around and they’ll run and jump to catch up with it. After a while, though, they’ll tire of the stimulation, lie down, and only halfheartedly reach for the string while they repose lazily on the carpet. The pursuit of the reward is no longer worth their time.
In this example, the cat is your workforce and the string is, well, whatever you want it to be. Taco Tuesdays? Free shots of Yukon Jack at 3PM every day? You might be temporarily improving their happiness with relentless boondoggles, but too much of a good thing and they’ll stop putting in the effort to catch the proverbial string. Simply put, they’ll be happy and probably complacent, but they won’t be engaged. And they certainly won’t do their best work.
For the record: the occasional Taco Tuesday is wonderful for morale. Just don’t overdo it.
If I can put my WebpageFX hat back on for a moment, I’ll point out that we’ve seen really wonderful results from providing unique experiences for our employees – usually once a month or so (September’s was a sushi-making class). They’re not a direct reward for good performance – not exactly. The difference is that employees understand that we’re looking out for their happiness, and they very naturally look for ways to feel that they’ve earned it.
Zappos is one of the poster organisations for happiness at work. Amazon reportedly bought the company for its superb customer relations, and these are achieved by an explicit an active commitment to employee happiness. Here are some top tips about how to achieve this from one its founders, and now CEO of Delivering Happiness, Jenn Lim…
When former Zappos culture consultant Jenn Lim climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with Tony Hsieh, it was one of the most meaningful experiences of her life.
When we’re young, we often idealise work, as if our ascent to success will be as clear and rewarding as a climb up Mount Kilimanjaro. But as we get into the working world, the reality sets in: there is boredom, apathy, and resentment. We’re not so sure we’re heading in the right direction, and we have no idea if we’ll ever make it.
As CEO of Delivering Happiness, Lim’s goal is to provide resources and information on how to find more happiness and meaning in the workplace and beyond. Beginning as a book by Hsieh, Delivering Happiness has flourished into a movement that brings together like-minded individuals online and offline, provides coaching for businesses, and works with schools to teach happiness to students.
Delivering Happiness promotes the idea, backed by positive psychology research, that happier people are more productive. Research has shown that happiness can boost our intelligence, creativity, and energy. It can increase our job security, job retention, resilience, productivity (by 31%), and sales skills (by 37%). Happiness reduces rates of burnout and turnover.
We caught up with Lim to hear some of the lessons they’ve learned about how to make work happier and more meaningful. Here they are:
Psychology studies suggest that 40-90% of our happiness is a choice, Lim says. In other words, whatever our genetics or life circumstances, a substantial portion of our well-being comes down to attitudes and behaviors. If we want to be happy, we have to truly decide to be happy.
That also means that we can’t completely blame our bosses or our work environment for bringing us down. Just because our company isn’t on board with the happiness movement doesn’t mean we are powerless. “If you change your individual world, then together we can actually change the world,” says Lim.
Define your values
One of the reasons why it’s so key for a company to articulate its values is because employees need to figure out if their values align with the company’s. When we feel bored or down, it might be because the tasks we’re doing aren’t in line with our values. For example, if being social and helping others is important to us but we spend all day in our cubicle typing up reports, it makes sense to feel disconnected.
At Delivering Happiness, their first value is “be true to your weird self.” Among their “motley crew” of 25 people – who sometimes refer to themselves as the “Bad News Bears” – individuality is respected and encouraged.
If we’re not sure of our values, one exercise Lim recommends is to identify the highs and lows in our life and look at which values were present or absent during those times. She actually found her purpose in life amidst one of the lows: losing her father to colon cancer. During that time, she took on the role of information disseminator, researching online and communicating with her father and his doctors. She realized that that was her purpose – to be a conduit of information – and today she’s fulfilling it by disseminating know-how about happiness. Her values shifted from a focus on money, title, and status to a focus on people.
As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi recounts in his book Flow, that feeling of full engagement and immersion happens when we’re operating at a high skill level to achieve a big challenge. If there’s a mismatch between our skills and the challenge, we’ll either feel bored or frustrated. To be happier at work, Lim says, we should aim to achieve flow once a day – which might mean seeking out bigger challenges.
The research is clear on this point: happier people have better relationships, and relationships make us happier. People in the top 10% of happiness have the most active social lives, and social support predicts happiness much better than GPA, income, SAT scores, age, gender, or race.
To make more connections at work, Lim suggests sharing our passions and hobbies with our coworkers. We’re bound to find someone with a similar interest, and that commonality can be the spark that leads to a relationship.
At the same time, says Lim, part of finding meaning and happiness is figuring out what we don’t like. We live in an age where we can explore, make mistakes, and learn from them. The way to find happiness, she says, is to be open to new opportunities – sometimes the thing that makes us happy is something we could never have predicted or imagined.
Positive psychology is a relatively new field that’s churning out insights on how normal people can be stronger and happier every year. Here are a few recent ones.
Happiness may be as old as the human race. The idea of rigorously studying happiness, however, is far newer.
For most of its history, psychology was exclusively concerned with helping those who were struggling. It was a discipline whose main occupation was “spot the loony,” as Martin Seligman, the father of “positive psychology” joked in his TED talk.
Then just a decade or so ago something shifted. Psychology started to look not just at those who were sick, but also those were well, investigating not just how to fix the broken, but also how to help the normal flourish. Studying happiness, in other words, became a thing. Today the investigation continues with important findings rolling out of labs and research institutes regularly.
PsyBlog recently rounded up ten of the most fascinating recent studies. Here are a few to get you started.
1. Happiness activates your body from head to toe.
We tend to think of happiness as a state of mind. Sure, it gives you a warm glow, but that’s mostly metaphorical, right?
Actually no. When Finnish researchers induced various emotions in 700 study subjects and then asked them to colour in a detailed body map, they discovered that feeling good isn’t just metaphorically or mentally energizing, it actually energizes the whole body.
“Happiness is the one emotion that fills the whole body with activity, including the legs, perhaps indicating that happy people feel ready to spring into action, or maybe do a jig,” says PsyBlog.
2. Being nice to others increases happiness.
Maybe this isn’t the most shocking finding on the individual level – most of us have experienced the joy of making someone else’s life a little easier – but scientists recently found the same principle applies to whole communities as well. The research team looked at how 255 American metropolitan areas reacted to the disruptions and challenges caused by the recent financial crisis and found “that communities that pull together – essentially doing nice little things for each other like volunteering and helping a neighbour out – are happier.”
“Social capital has a protective effect: people are happier when they do the right thing,” concludes PsyBlog.
3. School can’t teach you to be happy.
Getting that PhD may help you come up with an important scientific breakthrough, score a world-class job, or understand the intricacies of Renaissance poetry, but chances are it won’t make bring you any closer to happiness. Friends and family, it seems, are the best way to do that.
“Relationships have stronger associations with happiness than academic achievement, according to a recent study,” PsyBlog reports. “Whilst strong social relationships in childhood and adolescence were associated with happier adults, the associations with academic achievement were much lower.”
Looking for more evidence that happiness isn’t down to fancy degrees. The lead researcher behind one of the longest-running studies of human flourishing ever (the Grant Study that tracked 268 Harvard grads for more than 75 years), boiled down decades upon decades of data to this conclusion: “Happiness is love. Full stop.“
If there is one challenge above all others that we find comes to the top of our skills training workshops it has to be the fine and imprecise art of achieving balance. Striving to get work-life balance has become harder and harder as the increasing demands of our work have combined with the technology that makes being always switched on not only possible but our default state. And as more and more of us find a real sense of vocation and purpose in our work, setting and keeping boundaries that give us space outside and away from our work become harder to realise.
Help with this comes from another headliner in the emergent happiness at work field is mindfulness expert and author of Real Happiness At Work, Sharon Salzburg, and her teaching that gives us ways to combine the discipline of self-mastery into the realities of our working lives.
by Rene Lynch
“I think we can all understand happiness as something much deeper than just having a good time. It speaks to a type of resiliency, an ability to recover from mistakes or setbacks.”
Consider for a moment what you hate about your job. (Everybody hates something about their job, right?) Maybe your boss is a screamer. Your co-workers are conniving backstabbers. And you feel like you’re on a dead-end career path.
Now, what if you reframed those work problems as opportunities for personal growth and self-examination?
Sharon Salzberg, author of “Real Happiness at Work,” says many Americans who feel increasingly frustrated, overworked and underappreciated have more control over their work lives than they may realize.
The title of the book is eye-catching. It’s been sitting on my desk, and people walk by and point to it and say something along the lines of “Yeah, right. No such thing.”
I hear that all the time. People say, “Hey, we don’t call it ‘play'; we call it ‘work.’ We’re not supposed to have a good time doing it.” But I think we can all understand happiness as something much deeper than just having a good time. It speaks to a type of resiliency, an ability to recover from mistakes or setbacks. I think everyone actually wants to be happier at work.
So happiness isn’t as much about having a blast at work but finding something meaningful in whatever it is you are doing?
Yes. By happiness, we are talking about the challenges of taking our deepest values and bringing them to work. … We can really have the intention to do whatever we are doing very well, where we’re not halfhearted, where we try to make every encounter something where we truly listen and care about the other person and see what comes out of that different sort of awareness.
The trick seems to be how to get to that place. The tools you suggest in your book revolve around mindfulness and meditation.
I’ve heard this phrase … “email apnea,” where we stop breathing or breathe in a shallow fashion when we are checking our email. That has a profound physiological effect. I think it’s powerful to take notice of the moments in the day when we are starting to feel that anger, that anxiety, that irritation, or when we are starting to feel like we are not breathing. I would suggest you begin by trying to establish even a very short period of [a meditation or mindfulness] practice at home, where you even take five minutes to push out all the distractions and focus on the breath.
How does that transfer to the office setting?
When tempers are starting to flare, tensions are starting to rise, we can recognize it and come back to ourselves. It’s taking a step back. Mindfulness is about changing our relationship to our thoughts, to our feelings, so we have more balance and clarity. Then you begin to realize when you are starting to get angry. Not when you’ve written the email and pressed send. One of the great benefits to mindfulness in the workplace is that it releases us from tunnel vision.
So many of the challenges we face at work revolve around communication. We seem to ping back and forth between a fear of asking for what we want or need, or exploding in anger and irritation. Why is it so hard to strike the right balance?
A lot of it is knowing your motivation. What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want to be seen as right? Do you want revenge? Do you want to get back at someone? Even if we need to say something that is difficult, we can still be kind.
Somebody I spoke to who had a great difficulty saying “no.” [Using mindfulness and meditation training], she recognized the feelings, the sense of panic that she’d feel when she was asked to do more and more. She trained herself to recognize the pattern and to draw clearer boundaries. But in a nice way. She was able to grow in herself.
”Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?”
“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best — ” and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
Winnie the Pooh is a kind bear. He cares greatly about his friends.
And he has always seemed like a pretty happy bear to me.
He’s also a favourite of mine so today I’d like to simply share 5 of my favourite happiness tips from that honey loving bear.
1. Don’t get bogged down in details.
“You can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right; but spelling isn’t everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn’t count.”
Getting bogged down in details, focusing on the small problems can have advantages. But it can also make you miss the big picture. What’s really important in your life.
Don’t make the classic mistakes of spending too much time nitpicking or making mountains out of molehills. Relax instead. Focus on the positive things you have and want in your life.
Keep your attention on that. Work towards that. The days may seem long but the years are often pretty short. So live them instead constantly inspecting, criticizing or overthinking them.
2. Be proactive. Take the lead.
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
It’s easy to get locked into a reactive mindset. You just follow along with whatever is happening. You do what the people around you do. You react to whatever is going on.
And so you get lost in your circumstances. This way of thinking doesn’t feel too good. You tend to feel powerless and like you are just drifting along in life.
Another way of going about things to be proactive. To be the one who takes action first and to take the lead. It’s not always easy though. You have to get out of your comfort zone and it can feel scary.
So to not get lost in procrastination take it one small step at time. Just be proactive instead of reactive about one little thing in your life today. Start with that action and then build your proactiveness muscle step by small step.
3. Keep conversations simple and positive.
“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?”
What do people want in a conversations and relationships?
Long-winded negative babbling?
Or positive, focused talks where it is interesting to listen, communicate and exchange ideas?
Although the answer probably varies but I’d rather spend most of my time with doing the latter.
Three tips that help me to keep the conversation positive and focused are:
- Live a positive life. If you focus on the positive in your daily life then it’s usually no problem to keep focusing on it and talking about it in conversations. More on that in the last tip in this article.
- Be aware and alert. If you know that you have a problem with excessive ramblings then simply being aware of this can help you to stop yourself more and more often before you go off into babbling.
- Use words that helps you to get through. No need to try to impress people with big and complicated words when it’s not needed. Focus on getting through to others and communicating by using simple words that anyone can understand.
4. Do nothing once in a while.
“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
Although it feels good to work towards your dreams and doing the things you love I find that things tend to go better and I feel better if there is a balance.
If I take some time each week to do pretty much nothing. If I just spend time with myself on a walk in the woods or by the ocean for example.
By doing so I unload my mind. I relax fully and so life becomes less heavy and burdensome and I tend to have less stress and worries during the rest of my week.
5. Appreciate the little things.
“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.”
Daily happiness is to a large part about appreciating the small things.
If you just allow yourself to be happy when accomplishing a big goal or when you have some great luck then you are making life harder than it needs to be.
Instead, focus on appreciating things that you may take for granted.
Take 2 minutes and find things in your life you can appreciate right now.
The funny thing is that if you just start appreciating something you can very quickly start jumping around with your attention and appreciate just about anything around you.
You may start with the food you are eating right now. Then move your attention to the phone and appreciate that you can contact anyone – and be contacted by anyone – you’d like.
You might then move your attention outside, through the window and see the wonderful sunshine, then kids having fun with a football and then the tree by the road turning into wonderful autumn colours. And so on.
It might not sound like much. But this simple 2 minute exercise can help you to uncover a lot of the happiness that is already in your daily life.
Whether you are feeling really good or really bad, emotions are felt more intensely when the ambient lighting is brighter, according to recent research (Xu et al., 2013).
Since many decisions are made under strong lighting conditions, turning down the lights may help you make less emotional decisions.
The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, also has implications for those experiencing depression, as Alison Jing Xu, the study’s lead author explained:
“…evidence shows that on sunny days people are more optimistic about the stock market, report higher wellbeing and are more helpful, while extended exposure to dark, gloomy days can result in seasonal affective disorder.
Contrary to these results, we found that on sunny days depression-prone people actually become more depressed.”
Across six experiments the researchers gave participants various tests in both brightly and dimly lit rooms.
They found that:
- Bright lights increase our perception of heat: people feel warmer when they are in a brighter area.
- People order spicier food when the lights are brighter: we want to be thrilled in the light.
- Aggressive people are judged to be even more aggressive when the judges are sitting under bright lights.
- People find others more attractive when in bright rooms.
- People react more strongly to both positive and negative words under bright lights.
What these experiments are telling us, the authors explain, is:
“Bright light usually correlates with heat, and heat is linked to emotional intensity.
This psychological experience of heat turns on the hot emotional system, intensifying a person’s emotional reactions to any stimulus.
Thus, in bright light, good feels better and bad feels worse.” (Xu et al., 2013).
So, to turn down your emotions, try turning down the lights.
And to turn them up, flick the switch on!
There are a number of studies that have shown the importance of the routines and habits we use to start our day with to how happy that day will then be.
In this new research, this idea is looked at specifically in relation to how we start our work day, and provides some good food for thought about why it might be worth our time and effort to get as right as possible, both for ourselves and for anyone we manage…
Most managers don’t give much thought to the experiences their employees are having right before they get to work. Maybe one employee sat in hellacious traffic and another quarreled with her teenage daughter. Someone else dropped a buttered bagel on his new shirt. Others spent time getting elderly parents ready for their daytime routine. Managers would do well to pay more attention to their staffers’ morning moods.
My research with Steffanie Wilk, an associate professor at the Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University, shows that start-of-day mood can last longer than one might think—and have a significant effect on job performance.
In our study, “Waking Up On The Right Or Wrong Side Of The Bed: Start-Of-Workday Mood, Work Events, Employee Affect, And Performance,”i we examined how start-of-workday mood serves as an “affective prime.” An affective prime—similar to the proverbial rose-colored glasses–is something in an environment or situation that orients you to see and respond to events in a certain way. Our work builds on research on affect (emotion) in organizations, a growing focus in recent years. In our study, we asked the question of whether start of day mood or “waking up on the right or wrong side of the desk” could follow employees throughout the day and influence their work performance.
Both vicious and virtuous cycles emerged, linked to how employees felt at the beginning of the day. People who started out happy or calm usually stayed that way all day, and interacting with customers tended to further enhance their mood. For the most part, people who were already in a terrible mood didn’t really climb out of it, and felt even worse after interacting with positive customers.
Self-mastery is one of the themes I return to again and again, because happiness, as much as our learning, begins and works from ourselves: knowing ourselves and what ‘playing to our strengths’ means for us, and then increasing our capacity to think helpfully about the situations we face and creatively about the possible responses we might bring to progress them and move things forward. And this is quite likely to mean changing what we are doing in fundamental and long-lasting ways and starting and maintaining a new habit is not easy. Here is a helpful approach to get our best resolutions off the ground and making them ongoing…
by James Clear
A lot of people want to build an exercise habit that sticks. (A 2012 survey analysed the top ten habits of thousands of people and found that exercise was number one by a long shot. )
Of course, wanting to make exercise a habit and actually doing it are two different things. Changing your behavior is difficult. Living a new type of lifestyle is hard. This is especially true when you throw in very personal feelings about body image and self-worth.
But there are some strategies that can make it easier to stick with an exercise habit.
Here are 3 simple ways to make exercise a habit.
1. Develop a ritual to make starting easier.
…if you can find a way to make getting started easier, then you can find a way to make building a habit easier. This is why rituals and routines are so important. If you can develop a ritual that makes starting your workout mindless and automatic, then it will be much easier to follow through…
“During the next week I will exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at [PLACE].”
One research study showed that people who filled out this sentence above were 2 to 3 times more likely to exercise over the long run. This is a psychology concept called implementation intentions and there are hundreds of studies to back it up.
2. Start with an exercise that is ridiculously small.
The best way to make exercise a habit is to start with an exercise that is so easy that you can do it even when you are running low on willpower and motivation. In the words of Leo Babauta, start with something that is so easy you can’t say no…
Here’s one strategy that you can use in the beginning: The 2-Minute Rule.
It’s very simple: focus on finding a way to get started in just 2 minutes rather than worrying about your entire workout…
3. Focus on the habit first and the results later.
What matters most in the beginning is establishing a new normal and building a new routine that you will stick to; not the results that you get. In other words, in the first 6 months it is more important to not miss workouts than it is to make progress. Once you become the type of person who doesn’t miss workouts, then you can worry about making progress and improving…
Much of what we know about how to be happier at work, and how to make it easier and more likely for others to be happier at work too, is wisdom that we already have in what we tend to call common sense, hardwired into us from our centuries of being successful human beings. Strange then that so much of this intelligence can leave us when we are at work, whether because we just forget it in our keenness to adopt the cultural protocols of the prevailing environment we find ourselves in, or because we come to believe that everyday niceties of kindness, politeness, respect and generosity have no legitimacy in the fast-paced results-driven world of work. Wrong, as this article that pulls out a few choice quotes from people about their managers points up…
As a result, there is a wealth of white papers, scientific studies, and entire organizations devoted to figuring out what makes managers effective at motivating and leading others. But there’s one study by Quantum Workplace, The 50 Best and Worst Recognition Comments of 2013, that goes to the horse’s mouth to find out what employees are really saying.
Quantum Workplace compiles some of the most compelling recognition-related comments found in Best Places to Work and TeamPulse surveys for the annual publication, and it’s a great snapshot of the ground-floor recognition needs of today’s employees.
On the subject of poor management, these were choice comments:
- “As time has passed, I’ve become more and more convinced that I am invisible. My manager does not care about my growth and development at all. I am very much looking forward to finding a job with a different company.”
- “Recognition is given to those who put in the most hours, not those who do the best work.”
- “Would a ‘thank you’ be so hard?”
- “We just go through the motions so we don’t get yelled at and can get home by 5.”
How workers view good managers
Here’s what people had to say about good managers:
- “Management gives constructive criticism when it’s needed and praise when it’s due.”
- “I appreciate the small incentives, general kindness, and ‘thank-you’s’ for a job well-done”
- “Senior management talks with us to find out what motivates us to strive for company goals. They use those means of motivation to show that they really care about their employees.”
- “I have a great supervisor who listens and considers my thoughts and ideas.”
The Three Keys
When you hear it straight from employees it all seems pretty simple, and that’s because it is! The keys are:
- Give – your time, your interest, your attention, yourself.
- Listen; and
- Recognise and appreciate what people do.
NB I have amended these three keys from the original article (Ed.)
One of the greatest destroyers of happiness at work is any perception of unfairness or inequality. Study after study has shown that people are prepared to be happy to put up with all sorts of hardships, provided they believe that the pain is being equally shared, but the y will feel unhappy and even militant the moment they feel that someone is being given preferential treatment of any kind. The same is true when we look at studies of societies and nations, which is one of the reasons that Denmark consistently achieves the highest rankings in global happiness rankings.
This report on the work eBay is doing to overcome gender equality stands out for its relevance and pertinence for all of us, while also underscoring the difficulty of the challenges still be successfully conquered…
In 2010, eBay embarked on a journey to bring more women into its top ranks. It found that commitment, measurement, and culture outweigh a business case and HR policies.
by Michelle Angier and Beth Axelrod
Changing the culture—for everyone
Since WIN began, eBay has more than doubled the number of women in leadership roles. At the same time, we have increased the proportion of women in leadership by improving the promotion rates and (notably) our retention of female leaders. We’ve made progress across all businesses, functions, geographic regions, and key workforce segments, including technology. Yet the numbers can also tell a different story. At the most senior level, we are still almost exclusively male, and our board diversity remains a work in progress. Despite the impressive increase in numbers at the director-and-above level, we are far from declaring victory and are in fact humbled by our experience thus far.
We know that shifting the culture to improve the day-to-day experience of women at eBay has only just begun. Yet cultural change is essential because culture trumps all: even the best policies fail if employees think it isn’t really acceptable to avail themselves of them without hurting their careers. Furthermore, women must have faith that our people processes are fair to feel confident that they can build lasting careers at eBay.
The perception of fairness in people processes matters to everyone, not just women. Many of the concerns they expressed in our survey—for example, about promotions, hiring, challenging assignments, mentorship, or the visibility of job opportunities—worried men too. By improving our execution and the perceived fairness of our people processes, we can make eBay a better place for women and men to build their careers.
This is no small undertaking—nearly 6,000 people managers around the globe must raise their game—but it is also a tremendous opportunity. We intend to spur cultural change through multiple efforts, including our people-manager-effectiveness initiative already under way. We have just embarked on this journey.
As we reflect on what drove the early progress of our gender-diversity initiative, it is clear that a few things mattered most: senior leadership commitment and conviction, a focus on a few people processes, and the measurement of our data. Our continued progress will require shifting mind-sets and changing our culture so each employee gains a greater awareness and understanding of these issues and becomes better equipped to embrace our differences and support our successes.
This isn’t just a journey for women. Academic research shows that everyone has gender biases and expectations. Women and men acquire these attitudes, many of them unconscious, early in life. Starting with the children we raise, we must rewrite the norms that limit both genders, and this will take time. “Meeting everybody where they’re at in the journey” is hard while establishing trust and sustaining momentum for change, but it’s a worthy effort. In the future, winning companies will be those that learn to deploy the entire workforce productively and inclusively. We hope eBay will be one of them.