There is no denying that workplace happiness is critical to your career success. Even if you don’t love your job, are not fond of your office environment, or don’t have co-worker friends — you can still find ways to empower yourself to be happy at work where you spend the majority of your waking hours. Being happy at work doesn’t mean you have to adore every task you work on throughout the day – it means you allow yourself to be healthy and take breaks throughout the day so you can be an energetic, alert and focused employee.
You do have wide variety of responsibilities to cover throughout each day of the week, and how you spend your time directly affects the company’s bottom line, but powering through your workload without any breaks or focus on your health and well being will only hurt yourself and your company in the long run. Yes, there is a lot of pressure to carry a heavy workload, but there is also a direct correlation between happy employees who can produce brilliant work and unhappy employees that eventually end up slowing everyone else down because they are burnt out.
Many people think that to be successful, you have to be desk locked 9AM - 6PM+ focusing solely on the task at hand. In many industries — especially with work email and apps with us on our phones at all times, where fire drills can pop up at any hour of the night – mutual respect and flexibility has become more critical than ever to keeping yourself happy, healthy and productive. When was the last time you took the recommended hourly computer breaks to save your back and your eyes? Skipping the gym, skimping on sleep, or missing doctor appointments will only hurt you in the long run. Keep your life balance in check — if you must work overtime and answer client emails at midnight, why shouldn’t you get that same flexibility back and be able to go to a doctor appointment or run an errand during lunch?
A lot of the time, we trap ourselves with our own strict rules and give up our power to others when we don’t really need to. Maybe you feel self conscious about taking an hour to do lunch with a friend, or guilty for taking off a little early to get that manicure you need to feel put together… but do you think your boss gives it a second thought when you are staying hours late multiple nights a week to get work done? That’s where the mutual respect and flexibility comes in — sometimes you work late, or sign in on Sunday to get shit done – and then sometimes you get to go shopping during lunch or take an extra hour sleep in when you have a slower morning.
Balance is flying out the window in the name of work – life integration. It’s critical for your happiness and career success to make a conscious effort to take time for your personal life where you can get it. Yes, your boss wants to you to super productive and work your ass off, but she also doesn’t want you be burnt out, upset with clients, or dreading coming into the office — that’s when mistakes are made and clients get pissed off. If this is an ongoing issue, you should go to your boss and negotiate – for example, say you consistently have to work later hours due to a client time zone difference, you could ask about going to the gym during the work day so you’re able to keep a healthy routine even with late nights needed at the office.
Know that giving yourself a break and time to be happy doesn’t make you a bad employee or reflect poorly on your career — but actually allows you to be more successful in the long run. Not everyone or every industry has the flexibility for certain things, however I do encourage you to take a step back and truly examine the rules you’ve set for yourself and see who is really enforcing them; perhaps you are putting more pressure on yourself than anyone else is.