How I Finally Found Happiness In My Job
I was sure I’d finally made it. I was the global brand director of one of the world’s largest firms, a job that came complete with more money than I’d ever imagined making, a guaranteed platinum frequent flyer card and a glittering glass office that looked out over the city of Manhattan.
So you can imagine my shock when just six months into my hard-won promotion, I was finding it harder and harder each day to show up. I wish I could tell you that there was something wrong with me. An unexplained illness, difficulties at home or an unreasonable boss. But there wasn’t.
Like so many of the seventy percent of people who describe themselves as “just functioning” each day, I just wasn’t that engaged with my job any more.
At a fundamental level, we all need something to do, and ideally something to look forward to, when we wake up every day. What we spend our time doing each day has been found to shape our identity and has a direct impact on our wellbeing and our sense of satisfaction with life.
As the family breadwinner I couldn’t afford to simply quit and yet I lacked the energy to make any significant changes. So in desperation I decided to see if I could start using my strengths – the things I was good at and actually enjoyed doing – for just 11 minutes each day.
Why Might an 11-minute Daily Strengths Habit work?
Well more than a decade of positive psychology research has discovered that developing your strengths can help you to feel more confident, energized and happy in your job. So after figuring out what my strengths were by taking the free, ten minute VIA Survey it was clear that I was completely underplaying my strength of curiosity at work.
With neither the time nor energy to fit in one more thing, in desperation I decided to try and create a tiny daily strengths habit by using the neurological loop scientists have discovered of: cue, routine and reward. My cue was turning on my computer. My routine was to use my strength of curiosity to read one new positive psychology discovery and see if I could apply this to my team. And my reward was to email my boss each Friday with what I had learnt.
All in just 11 minutes each day, so I could fit it in no matter how busy work got.
This tiny habit felt so good, that I did it the following week and each week after that.
Until nine months – and 36 emails – later, my boss called me into his office and said: “Clearly we’re not tapping in to your potential. Would you like to teach these positive psychology techniques across our business?” And just like that my dream job was created.
You see, I discovered that when you choose to do what you do best each day – even for just 11 minutes – not only does it make you feel happier, but others have the chance to see the potential that radiates from within you. And you just never know where this will lead.
Gladly my experience is not unique. Last year more than 2,000 people in 65 countries joined me for the first global Strengths Challenge to create their own daily 11-minute strengths habits and we found that not only did it help them name their strengths and use them more at work, but in just one week more than a third of participants reported feeling more engaged, energized and flourishing at work.
If you had 11 minutes a day to put your strengths to work where would you start?