“My life is awful.” It's a phrase many of us use when talking about our everyday routines, our work and our prospects in life. There are many reasons for this logic. As a species, it's part of our progressive force. If we were always happy, we'd have no ambition.
The problem is, a lot of people do nothing about it. It’s easier to blame our mean bosses, the government and everyone else for our dissatisfaction. Yet -- if you will entertain the possibility -- all of us can improve our thinking and change our habits to become more engaged, more productive and more satisfied.
It’s very easy to say your work sucks because your boss is mean and doesn’t care. But let’s be honest -- if you think that, you don’t care either. If you did, you’d do something to feel better.
This might seem like a problem for leadership or management -- for whom employee disengagement converts into loss of revenue and higher turnover rates -- but it is also your problem because you’re the one who is unhappy.
To help you, I’ve summarized three different ways you can become more engaged at work and at life.
1. Why do you wake up in the morning?
Even the most dull working environment can be made fun and interesting by focusing on what's important to you -- whether it's paying rent or changing the world. If you remember your personal goal, how it aligns with your employer's objectives and why you got the job in the first place, you'll become more engaged and a lot happier.
We all have days when we want to throw our alarm clocks out of the window, but having clear long term goals helps you have less days like that. Every night before going to sleep, I think about the next day and what it will give me. That way, it's easier to get out of bed in the morning and seize the day.
2. What exactly is important?
For a lot of people, days are filled with meaningless tasks and pointless meetings that keep us from doing things that matter. A lot of those tasks are neither necessary nor vital. Their only goal seems to be to offer distractions from doing meaningful work.
Not always, but on many occasions, we have a chance to choose what we are doing, so it helps to think about which tasks best move you towards your goals. Remember, 80 percent of results are achieved with 20 percent of work. So eliminating all the “fake work” you can saves time and allows you to focus on things that matter.
If possible, take on tasks that challenge your best skills. Not only are they more interesting for you, but it will help you develop even further.
When you wake up each day, take some time to plan and think about how the day will help you meet your goals. This will give you motivation to go out and act. You can use the 20/20/20 formula to improve yourself with exercises to both your mind and body.
Personally, I take the first 60 minutes -- I wake up early for this -- to go over my schedule and decide what I must do and what I shouldn’t do. That way, I’m sure all my activities are important.
To increase your overall work satisfaction, it's important to reflect on how your work impacts others. Understand how the tasks you do are connected to the work of others on your team, and measure the positive impact you have. Knowing your importance increases your engagement levels greatly and makes you better at your work.
If your employer is not using some sort of project management or status reporting tool, you can choose one for yourself. For me, the most effective way to measure and discipline myself is using PPP (plans, progress, problems) methodology.
In the end, we are the ones who decide if we're engaged or not -- happy or not. Do we enjoy our workdays or do we just sit in the office eight hours and think about the success we'll never have? Success comes to those who work hard, stay engaged and get results.