If you haven’t tried it, one way to be happier at work is to be an entrepreneur, according to a classic study by the Wharton School of Business a while back. In a survey of 11,000 MBA graduates over many years, those running their own businesses ranked themselves happier than all other professions, regardless of how much money they made.
But whether you choose the entrepreneurial route, or any other approach, I suggest you try the following top ten recommendations from experts around the world on how to stay happier at work:
- Do what you love and love what you do. The right reason to start a business is not the money, challenge, or the prestige, but the chance to follow your dream. If you are sick of the corporate grind, take your favorite idea or hobby, and join other happy entrepreneurs.
- Stay rooted in the present. While entrepreneurs often have to make pivots and react to unforeseen challenges, constantly thinking about the worst case scenario will place undue stress on your body and drain your mind of resources that are better used in more productive ways.
- Keep expectations realistic. It's a lot easier to reset your expectations than reality. Keep your expectations reasonable. So if reality matches expectations you will feel neutral about it. If you succeed, then it is an unexpected pleasure and you are happy.
- Spend more time with the family. As a professional, keeping a sense of balance between work and family is always a challenge. The happiest people are the ones who can split their focus between work and family, and get value and satisfaction from both.
- Keep track of your wins. Happiness doesn't come from getting something you don't have, but recognizing and appreciating what you do have. Write down five things you're grateful for each day before you start work, or before you leave the office at the end of the day, to retrain your brain to focus on the positive.
- Stay fit and rested. You will have more energy and think more effectively if you are in shape and rested. In addition, you’re a role model for partners and employees. Real job performance is more a function of productivity than hours worked anyway.
- Find a stress reliever. For some people, it’s quiet meditation, and for others it’s a vigorous workout at the gym. Find something that doesn’t have anything to do with your profession for a change of pace. These will also help you unleash the creative side.
- Put trust in your employees. Build a supportive and constructive relationship with your staff. If you empower key employees to make important decisions then every small decision will not have to go through you. It starts with trust and ends with peace of mind. Hire people who have skills you don’t have, but share your values.
- Exercise the other side of your brain. If your job is analytical, take some time regularly to explore the creative side of your personality, or vice versa. The happiest people are whole-brained, rather than just left brain or right brain.
- Play the optimist role. Optimism is a learned skill. First, straighten out your emotions by keeping a straight body posture. Second, change your tone of voice so that it is cheerful and full of energy. Third, use upbeat or happier words, such as "challenge" rather than "problem," or think of "opportunities" rather than "losses."