As one year ends and a new year starts, it's a good idea to reflect on what's working and not working so well in your life. One of the things most people want to think about is their work life, the place they're currently at with their careers and whether they're on track to accomplish their goals.
Annie McKee, a happiness expert and leadership advisor for Fortune 500 companies and governments across the world, says that it's normal for people to have mixed feelings about where they are in their career. Feeling unhappy at your job, however, isn't normal.
"As we think about our work lives, it's important for us to reflect on whether we feel fulfilled by our work, whether we feel we're making a difference or having an impact on others and how that all impacts us," McKee tells CNBC Make It.
If you're at a place in your career where you feel like you just need to "motor through," you're likely feeling dissatisfied, she explains.
"As you look back and think about what 2017 has been like, maybe work hasn't been as fulfilling as you have wanted it to be and you've been unhappy part or most of the year," McKee says. "Maybe you're not reaching your potential or moving towards those goals that you hoped you would. If that's the case, maybe 2018 is really the time to take happiness at work seriously."
If you look at what you're doing now at your job and think it's time to make better decisions to help you feel fulfilled and gratified by the work you're doing, here are three simple steps McKee says you can follow to be happier at work in 2018:
Ask yourself, "what is your mindset at work?"
If your mindset is "work is grueling, just be happy you have a job and you're getting a paycheck, feeling bored at work is okay," and you're not happy, McKee encourages you to reject it.
McKee notes that we often blame others for our unhappiness. However, what we really need to do is take control of our lives.
"It's really tempting to blame others: that manager that you don't get along with, that co-worker who is kind of nasty and doesn't seem to have the team's best interest at heart or even the organizational culture," McKee says.
There's no doubt bad managers exist in the workplace, organizational cultures that get in the way of our happiness and co-workers that we would rather not have to spend time with, McKee notes. But our happiness has as much more to do with our own mindset and our decisions as much as it has to do with what others are doing to us.
"Everyone deserves to be happy at work because if we're not happy at work, we're not happy in life," McKee says. "We spend about one-third of our adult lives working and if we're miserable or frustrated or just generally bored and uneasy in the workplace then we're not going to be happy in our lives and will bring it home."
Instead, you have to banish the mindset that you can't or shouldn't seek happiness.
"We all deserve to be happy, you deserve to go for it," McKee says.
In her latest book, "How to Be Happy at Work: The Power of Purpose, Hope, and Friendship," McKee explains that "happiness traps" like overworking can cripple your happiness.
"A lot of us work really hard and we kind of like that about ourselves," McKee says. "But if we work all the time and we don't find a way to renew ourselves by doing other things that we love to do, we can find ourselves burning up and burning out really quickly — even if we actually do like our jobs even if we do actually like our companies and the people that we work with."
Overwork happens for a couple of reasons, according to McKee: mainly due to pressures in the workplace and, secondly, having phones that keep you tied to emails, texts, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn.
The reality is we love our technology and we're obviously not going to just get rid of it in our lives, McKee says. But there's a certain point in the day where we have to say, "no more email, no more texts, no more tending to work."
Plus, "very few of us have jobs where we have to be on the other end of our cell phones all the time because of life-and-death matters," McKee adds.
If you do have to be at work for extended periods of time, you should seek fulfillment from work by increasing the opportunities you have to make a difference and a positive impact as well as look for ways to feel hopeful and optimistic.
While some may say it's unwise to be friends with co-workers because it can cloud your judgment, impede your objectivity and prevent you from having hard conversations, McKee says that's a myth.
"If you like the people you work with and they like you, if you respect them and the respect is returned, if you feel there's trust in the relationship," McKee says, "then you probably like getting up every day and going to work, if for no other reason than being with people who you enjoy being with people who share your goals and share your mindset."
McKee points out that having friends at work is not only enjoyable, but it also contributes to our effectiveness.
"Nobody can be successful all by themselves in today's workplace. No matter how smart you are, we need others to support us and we need to do that in return," she says. "Collaboration is everything in today's workplace, no matter what job you have."
The best way to make sure that the collaboration works well is to build sound, warm, trusting relationships, McKee says.
"Good, warm friendly relationships at work are based on finding that common thread of humanity that keeps us linked to one another as we pursue goals that we care about together," she adds.
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