Given advances in everything today, you can basically be whatever you want. But Gallup tells us only 13 percent of people are very happy in their work. Why is it so hard for so many people to feel inspired every day?
Years ago, I found myself frustrated with my job, trying to build a great career but not knowing the best path. I wanted to influence leaders in big companies one day. But as I worked in a struggling publisher, I felt stuck with a boss who enjoyed threatening to fire people in creative ways. And I needed a big change.
I decided to track down dream mentors to learn directly from them. I didn't want watered down advice from books. I wanted raw ideas from their biggest successes and failures, and their best mentoring. And I've pulled it together into eight ways to create the happiest career (and life) on earth. Here they are:
1. Stick With the Dream. The common denominator for all successful people who've found career happiness is determination. Tim Ferriss had his original book proposal turned down by publishers 25 times before it was finally accepted, before it became one of the bestselling books of the decade. Stick with your dream despite everything you face
2. Make Plenty of Friends. Happiness in any career is all about relationships, relationships, relationships. An extensive study of well-being among 1,600 Harvard undergraduates showed social support is the greatest predictor of happiness. One dream mentor said she has a goal to create or strengthen at least one friendship every day, and by doing that she's built a vast network she's relied on to build a stellar career and a powerful business. Build friendships by showing interest in others, asking great questions, and listening a lot.
3. Exercise Daily. Don't think you have enough time for exercise? Think again. Explore the 7-minute workout noted in the New York Times. Supremely happy people find time to exercise whether it's jogging in the morning or evening, playing sports, or doing yoga.
4. Put Inspiration Above Pay. Super successful people put passion for what they do above pursuing a bigger bank account. But the reality is that they're all extremely wealthy. Caterina Fake chased her dreams to invent things, and created a community to bring people and photos together -- Flickr, which then made her fabulously wealthy, to the tune of $30 million.
5. Pursue Crazy Ideas. Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia, put himself out there and believed in a business model that everybody told him was crazy -- a place where people he didn't pay would willingly create unlimited, relevant content and keep it updated to educate billions. And it's worked, with over 470 million unique visitors per month who would agree.
6. Help Others. Boost your happiness by helping others. There's a reason why success comes after service in the dictionary. Research tells us that at least 100 hours a year (or two hours per week) of service is optimal. And super successful people do it. Adam Grant, top-rated professor at the Wharton Business school suggests that the best way to succeed is by serving others. And he walks the talk, as he regularly responds to countless emails for help -- including some of my own requests for assistance on personal projects.
7. Practice Smiling. Improve your focus and achieve more by smiling. According to PsyBlog, smiling can reduce your stress and "make you feel good which also increases your attentional flexibility and your ability to think holistically." Barbara Corcoran, multi-millionaire real-estate guru and star of ABC's Shark Tank, says the key to success in her company is the rule that everyone has to "have fun." Smile more and reap the benefits of reduced pain, improved mood, and better thinking.
8. Sleep More. Beyond helping your body recover and repair itself, better sleep helps you be more productive and happier. Research shows that how employees feel when they start work in the morning affects their entire work day. In this TED talk, Arianna Huffington credits her newfound focus with activating the power of sleep in her life.
I've applied this advice and it inspired me to get my MBA and join the corporate environment, where I've been able to influence leaders in some of the most inspiring companies in the world. No matter where you're at, in whatever job you're in today, you can create the happiest career (and life) on earth.
How do you feel about this list? What would you add to it? Which areas do you feel you can most improve? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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Cross-posted on Linkedin