How to Be Happy At Work. Short tutorial.


Then God said to Adam, “You listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree. Cursed is the ground because of you. Through hard work you will get your food, every day of your life.”

This Adam curse continues and now – we have to work hard every day to earn our food. It is inevitable fact – most of us spend at work more than half of conscious adult life. How well do you spend this half of our life? Are you unhappy, stressed or bored on your job?

Why people are unhappy at work?

  1. Conflicts with other people and especially your boss. We all humans and, surprisingly not only you, but everybody has own agenda, interests and needs. Conflicts often happen, because we forget about this. Care about people around you and you’ll enjoy their company much more.
  2. Burnout – too much pressure, too much stress, too little time to think about yourself. Stress comes from inside – we are creators of own stress. There are hundreds ways to relieve – better organization, delegation of responsibility, better communication with co-workers. External factors are most important: enjoyment from family, home, physical activity and leisure, fulfilling personal life and achievements. At the end, we work to live, not living to work.
  3. Lack of variety and challenge. And first step to have interesting and enjoyable job is to design your job.

Designing your job

Don’t allow to treat yourself as a pluggable work unit. You should have

  1. Control over your task assignments and execution.
  2. Environment and time to focus on your tasks.
  3. Clear goals and immediate feedback.

Enjoyment from work comes at very specific point: when our tasks and challenges match our capabilities (Mihaly Csikszentmihal, Flow). Work should be not overwhelmingly complex and not too simple. With these conditions you will enjoy your work and grow quickly.

If you cannot change your job, change your job. Find another. (Strategy advise from Martin Fowler).

Me, Inc. or Hire yourself.

Don’t allow other people to decide what you do, your career and your future – not your manager, company or even trends in your profession. Take charge yourself and consider yourself as a mini enterprise.

Follow 5 step process (Pollan and Levine, Fire Your Boss).

  1. Write your own job description– One sentence with focus on active verbs.
    • Example: “I build enterprise software”.
  2. Give yourself a performance review. Look beyond your company or industry – become expert in job market. What skills and achievements are valued? What experience is required? How much people earn?
    • Example: “Companies become interested in Ruby-on-Rails, Flex, Silverlight. Agile development enters mainstream.”
  3. Define alternative paths– from 2 previous steps you’ll discover alternative courses open to you today and in a future. Brainstorm all possible fields and occupations that would fit this general description. Add imagination.
    • Example: “I can receive certification, move to another company, freelance, become consulting coach or teach programming.”
  4. Find gaps– what are you missing to move to alternative path or improve your current job position.
    • Example: “I should improve communication skills. I should learn new software platforms and try Agile.”
  5. Put your work plan in action – abandon narrow path predetermined by your boss, company or profession. Focus on achievements and skills you need to advance on your current and future job in the same time. Use a good time/goals management system as GTD. Come up with Next Actions.

Most jobs are not created to make us happy. They are created to make money for someone else. If we allow them – they will suck our lives. Instead, we should take charge, design our jobs and hire ourselves.

Sigmund Freud gave simple receipt for happiness: “Work and Love”. And I hope you can break “curse of Adam” and love your work.

Original: How to Be Happy At Work. Short tutorial