Create Your Happiness Map

Choose happiness

It could happen like this.

One day you walk into work and you get that feeling in your gut. You know you have to quit. Just like that you are on a new path.

Now you might not quit right then, but you know you have to find something better.

You start to look at other options, but aren't sure what your next step is. I suggest you start by working on your skills first (on the side and at work) then find work that you are more passionate about. It starts with planning your next project, something you are excited about and taking action on it. You have to improve your skills now so you can do work you love in the future.

Last week I brought on a new high profile coaching client and sold 7 copies of Unlock Your Career Happiness and shared my news with my family. They enjoyed hearing about my success and it spurred a conversation with my son and his clay tiger in art class.

If I would have chosen to complain about a difficult client, I would have started the conversation down a different path. A path that would never have led to my son talking about how proud he was of his clay tiger.

By choosing what we focus on we are choosing how happy we are.

Choose Passion

That’s why I would like you to create your own happiness map.

I’m not talking about a map that brings you to a secret island that serves lobster sandwiches, gives away gold coins, and has endless amounts of your favorite beer.

I’m talking about actions that you can do today to bring yourself more happiness. An internal map that allows you to connect to what makes you happy.

Because at the end of the day, what makes you happy is rooted in your passions, focus, and strengths. If you can use all three in your life then you'll have a sense of purpose.

Purpose is the foundation to happiness.

The reason for choosing to spend time with your family over playing video games is because of purpose. Now you might not know your career purpose yet, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You are not here for just accomplish a few small things. You are here to do great things.

"Happiness is the joy that we feel on the way to living our potential." - Shawn Achor

Good thing for you that purpose comes in many forms. From your family to caring about the work, to spending time with good friends, to religious beliefs - it all matters.

The actions you take to live your purpose is where the true lobster sandwiches lie. It’s these actions that make up 99% of your happiness, not the treasure when you hit your destination.

If you feel excited by your work because of the people you get to help then your purpose is clear. That's why teachers stick through the tough times. They love their students.

Happiness is Tricky

This is why happiness is tricky. People don’t focus on the positive feelings as much as they should because it can feel elusive. When you try to go after happiness you become unhappy. Your expectations get out of whack and you end up depressed.

Now when you are surprised by a co-worker buying you lunch happiness comes easy

It feels elusive because your feelings change. A student calls you an asshole and storms out of class, it's hard to be happy. Instead of focusing back on the other 20 kids you focus on the one difficult one. You focus on the "not so good" results, which sometimes can feel empty. The tedious work that seems pointless.

You have to bring your actions back in line with what makes you happy. Focus on what you can control. You do that by having clear actions that you can take when one part of your career/life isn't going as well as you hoped.

You can fly by the seat of your pants, which can work for a lot of people. It doesn't work well for me. I get off track.

I use my Happiness Map to get myself back on track.

Here is my current Happiness Map:

Career Happiness Map

As you can see from my 5th grader handwriting and child like drawings that I'm not an artist. The idea is not to make this perfect, but to just make it.

I've done many of these actions in each box, but not all of them. I've never done a keynote at a conference. I would like to, but it hasn't happened yet. It's not about doing every single one, it's about looking at your life as a whole and seeing how much good work you have done. It’s about focusing on work that you enjoy and continuing to do more of it in the future.

Create Your Own Happiness Map

  1. Make a list of top 5 feelings you want to feel while you work. Write them down the left side of the paper.
  2. Across the top number from 1 - 4. You can do more, but the idea is to keep your focus on the most important work.
  3. Make a grid so you have a little box below the numbers and across from these feelings.
  4. Write actions that bring these feelings into your work day.

The idea is to help put your actions into focus. If you notice that my second box next to the feeling joyful is writing. I truly love to write. That’s what I’m doing right now and I feel very lucky to be doing it.

Sometimes I get away from writing and my Happiness Map reminds me to get back on track. Put my focus back on what makes happy.

I started this Happiness Map because of Danielle Laporte. She is the inspiration that helped me figure out how to put this all onto one piece of paper. Thank you, Danielle!

The next most important part is putting your Happiness Map in a place so that you’ll see it every single day. It could go in your bedroom, cubicle, office, bathroom, etc. The idea is to keep your focus on what is important to you.

Where will you put your Happiness Map?

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