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Can’t be the new normal

Because of COVID, every day we hear about how we are now working in the “new normal” and must adjust our daily routines.  The articles and conversations are as if this is a given and we simply need to adjust.  However, I believe there are many impacts to people, society and business performance that we can’t simply accept as the new normal.

The aspect of the new normal that I am referencing here is that Work from Home (WFH) will now be the new standard.  I understand many people have been doing this for much of their careers and don’t understand why people consider the concept of WFH being a challenge.  My perspective is that there are certain positions or even people’s personalities that can operate in this model; however, it isn’t for everyone, every position, or every stage in one’s career.

My initial premise is that humans are social beings and need interaction with others.  During these prolonged periods of remoteness, people are being deprived of this basic human need.  We look to technology to help in times of this pandemic, but it should be used as a tool to bridge us to the non-pandemic future versus calling it the new normal.

Here are a few examples of why I believe this extended new WFH “normal” is negative:

Collaboration and Innovation – There is a lot of new technology that is being leveraged today in an attempt to personalize meetings; however, Zoom meetings and attempts to leverage online whiteboarding capabilities, don’t take the place of collecting in a room and having a collaboration/innovation session.  Personal interactions, stealing the marker from someone to enhance their ideas, and the energy generated can’t be replaced online.  In face to face meetings, people feel more compelled to be engaged.  When working in an online environment, people tend to multitask, address emails or other urgent issues during the time set aside for the dedicated meeting.  This occurs in face to face meetings as well, but the tendency has picked up during this period of isolation.

Casual Interactions – Impromptu casual interaction is nearly eliminated in WFH settings.  Random office chats that provide the much-needed break from the daily work are now replaced with the potential to engage with the family.  Though this family engagement is a positive aspect to WFH, it doesn’t provide the same level of psychological escape and can actually cause additional stress.  While these casual chats in the hallway may be distractions, the separation from sitting/standing at our desk, is important to close out issues that may not be considered critical enough to set up an Outlook meeting.   Spontaneous chats and random interactions provide reasons for periodic breaks.  These breaks are needed to keep your mind focused.  Separation from the computer provides a break from a particular work item and provides additional time for more creative encounters

Networking – I have always been a strong proponent of networking, especially for people who are early in their careers or new to their companies.  While I am much later in my career than others, it’s more difficult in today’s world for people to network and expand their visibility within the company.  For example, previously, you were able to take advantage of the casual interaction mentioned above to introduce yourself to someone that you believe can help with your success.  These impromptu encounters are very unlikely to happen in the WFH environment because the probability of getting 10 minutes on someone’s calendar for this type of engagement is unlikely.

Companies need to take every precaution to keep their employees safe; however, part of the balance needs to be on understanding the psychological impact and well-being of their organization.  Organizations need to encourage new ways of working in this current environment to address the underlying challenges; however, we can’t accept this as the new normal.  While this pandemic has impacted the way we will do business forever, we can’t allow ourselves to operate as if the pandemic is forever.  As I write this, there is encouraging information that vaccinations with start within the coming days, and life may get back to normal in the next 6 months.

School for Start-ups Radio Interview

Click Here to Listen

 

Why Entrepreneurs are Less Happy – at 5 minutes 55 seconds

 

Why I Teach Happiness and Success – at 10 minutes 25 seconds

 

Defining Happiness – at 12 minutes

 

Why Happiness Leads to Success rather than Success Leading to Happiness – at 14 minutes 35 seconds

 

 

The Secrets to Happiness and Success – at 20 minutes 40 seconds

 

 

 

Check the Boxes

Through everyone’s life and career, there will be opportunities to make changes.  Some of those opportunities will not be specifically in our plan (driven by forces outside of our control) and some will be part of the evolution of our life plans.  During decision making in either example, it’s best to have a well calculated evaluation process that is fact based to help you cut though all of the obstacles.

I call that process – Check the Boxes.

In a Check the Boxes process, as you begin considering the opportunities, identify the key items that are most important to you and that you want to ensure you either maintain or acquire with the upcoming change.  As you outline these factors give each a rating of 1 to 5.  By using this simple system, you will be able to eliminate options from your processes and focus only on those that provide a favorable rating in your system.

By way of example, let’s say that you have the opportunity to look for a new job.  This may be because you want to continue to expand your career or that your current company is making some changes and you happen to be caught up in a force reduction.  Either way, look at it as a positive opportunity to make some changes and align closer with your ideal role and goals.  I use this process often with the university students that I mentor and colleagues I work with.

Start the process by identifying all of the potential factors in looking for a new role, whether they are immediately important or not.  Factors like: company, type of industry, location, work environment, commute times, salary & benefits, travel requirements, opportunities to advance, stability of company.  While the list could go on and on, each of the factors are relevant in a position.

Once you have the broad field of factors identified, begin to narrow it down to the key items that are critical to you and give them a weight of importance.  For instance, if type of industry is one of the most critical factors, give it a high rating and as you begin to evaluate opportunities, only include ones that align with this value.  This is what I call Checking the Box.

At the end of this initial process, you should have 4 – 5 key factors that you will want to consider in your decision making process.  As you go through the process, chose to move forward with those options that have the most boxes checked.

Again, the Check the Box process is one that can be used in most decision making situations, at a personal level or professional level.  Buying a car or entering a new market.  Taking a new job or hiring a new employee.

One of the key parts to the process is being true to yourself and basing your decision on fact based logic.  Obviously emotions will always play into a decision, but by using this Check the Box process you can begin to minimize the impact of pure emotion on your decision.

As you have learned from my previous posts, I like to keep it simple.  I hope that this is another simple process for you to use in your personal or professional life.

Have a great day!

 

Happiness Hack #61 – Relationships are as Important as Food and Water

Although it takes longer to see the effects, depriving yourself of social connections can take a physical toll just like not eating. Your brain responds both positively and negatively to the presence and quality of relationships in your life. Scientists are beginning to find that the loss or lack of social relationships creates actual physical pain and not just the emotional pain we are familiar with.

More importantly, positive social relationships activate pleasure centers in the brain that make us feel content and fulfilled much like having enough food makes us feel. Those pleasure centers are activated when we create charitable relationships like giving money to people in need rather than spending it on ourselves or when we nurture close personal relationships like helping someone close to us who is in distress. When scientists tested trade-offs of money for happiness, they found working with charities, visiting with friends, and maintaining a close relationship with your significant other were worth tens of thousands of dollars in annual income. All three levels of relationships; charitable, friendly, and close personal relationships, contribute more to your happiness than significant amounts of money.

To be happier, focus on maintaining strong social connections. Work with charities, spend time with friends, and nurture your close personal relationships. They are as important as eating and will have a positive physical impact on your well-being.

 

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MyHappiness App

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #60 – Create a Bed Time Routine

I know that sounds really boring, but how exciting can you really be if you are not happy, not focused, can’t remember things, and suffer from anxiety? Those are all symptoms of not getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Since most of us have morning deadlines related to school, work, or exercise, we have to go to bed earlier to make sure we get 7 hours of sleep.

So create a bed time routine. Start by determining what time will give you 7 hours of rest and add an extra 30 minutes for transition time. You need your downtime, so start your TV watching or Internet surfing a little earlier. Be sure and turn off all electronic devices 30 minutes before you go to bed. The light from your computer, phone, and television screens send signals to your brain telling you it is day time and you should be awake. Reading a book or just spending some time thinking will help you fall asleep faster. For the first 30 days, until you have truly established a routine, you will often lay awake feeling unproductive and having hundreds of thoughts racing through your mind. But over time, as the routine sets in, you will fall asleep quickly and wake up feeling refreshed, focused, and less anxious.

Create a bed time routine, so that you get at least 7 hours of sleep every night and you will feel smarter and happier.

 

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MyHappiness App

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #59 – Choose 3 Small Things

In a chaotic world it often feels like we don’t have control and that life is just rushing at us with a constant stream of challenges and things to do. To be happier, practice your autonomy. Research shows that we feel happier when we have autonomy and can make decisions about what will happen in our lives rather than being victims of the constant chaos of life.

So to be happier, take control of a small part of your life by finding 3 small things you can accomplish today. This is your list and can include things you want to do for others or small actions that will make your day a little better. The most important aspect is that you choose them. Then, make sure those three things get done. Try to get them done earlier in the day if possible, so there is less chance of being interrupted by the chaos of life. Each day pick 3 more things that you can control and you can accomplish.

Feeling like you can gain a little more control over the chaos of life will help you feel a lot happier.

 

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MyHappiness App

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Creating a 10 Year Plan

 

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to have it all and achieve all of their goals?  Maybe you even feel that some people are lucky and have things handed to them on a silver platter?

In my experience, I have found that if you dig a little deeper you find that they weren’t just lucky, they had a plan. They have taken specific steps along the way to ensure they achieve their goals.

However, from business executives to athletes and music stars, if you peel back their story, you usually find a vision and a plan to achieve success.

So what is your plan?  Where should you start?

While it is a bit of a standard question, you need to start with what you want.  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?  This is a great place to start.

Relax and visualize where you see your life being in 10 years.  What does that look like?  Look at it from a number of different perspectives.  Take your time and don’t rush yourself – really think about all of the options and opportunities…

  • where will you be working (if at all)
  • what will your family life be… spending time with kids, wife, others
  • what other interests will you be involved with – charity, community, mentorship, hobbies
  • what will your health be like

Now step back and begin looking at what it will take for your to achieve your “visualized” you in 10 years.  Separate each of the items you have in your list and begin to consider the milestones that will allow you to achieve the goal.  For instance, if you see yourself running your own company in 10 years, what do you need to start now that will allow you to succeed?  Start with understanding the expectations of the role and how you gain knowledge and experience supporting the position.

If you look at it from each of the different perspectives, you will end up with a number of paths to achieve each of your separate goals.

Write the goals down – physically write them down.  Having your goals written is important to your ability to have visibility to the goal and allow you to track them as well.  However, physically writing them down causes a deeper commitment and connection.  (The act of writing it down activates commitment centers in your brain. They help you work toward your goals even when you are not thinking about them.)

With those plans in place, begin tracking your progress.  It’s not going to help if you simply put your goals down on a piece of paper and file them in a drawer.  If you do that, in 10 years you will be cleaning out your drawers, find this list and wonder why you never achieved your targets.

In addition to holding yourself accountable to doing the things you have committed to in order to achieve your plan, have someone else help as your accountability partner.  This should be someone that you trust and will be honest with you as you work through your plan.  Your accountability partner should be strong enough to keep you on track if you begin to slip in taking actions.  While this doesn’t have to be your significant other, I would recommend that you include your significant other in the planning process because you want to make sure that you have compatible plans.  They don’t have to be identical, for instance, my wife isn’t interested in running marathons, but they should be supportive and not conflict.

Lastly, know that goals can change and evolve.  Don’t delay your goal process waiting for perfection – start today with the process to ensure a level of progress.

Start taking a level of control of your life.  Build a goal of where you see yourself in 10 years and begin taking active steps to achieving your goals… Good luck.

 

Happiness Hack #58 – Add Bright Colors to Your Life

Research has shown that adding bright colors into your life can make you happier. Specifically both men and women were happier when they were exposed to bright blues and greens. The theory is that we evolved to appreciate bright blue skies which signify great weather and beautiful days. Research also showed that being exposed to bright colors can improve your memory and reaction time and well as increase your confidence.

Culture and fashion trends have brought more blacks and grays into our lives as we try to be more serious and professional. But these dull colors combined with dreary winter months can lead to feelings of sadness and depression without us realizing why.

So add bright colors, specifically bright blue into your life. Paint a wall with bright colors or wear brightly colored shirts or socks. Put a bright blue picture in your office and spend 2 to 3 minutes looking at it each day.

Expose yourself to bright colors and you will be happier.

 

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MyHappiness App

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #56 – Create Happiness Habits

Happiness is not a pinnacle we reach or a destination. It is a daily habit. It is created by choosing positive actions every day that will help us feel contented and fulfilled, that will help us feel like we matter and can make a difference, and that will help us feel hopeful and excited to get up every morning.

 

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence (Happiness), then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

Doing something over and over again creates pathways in our brain. Those pathways make it easier and easier to do something so eventually we don’t have to think about it. We can create pathways that lead to happiness or pathways that don’t.

So create habits of happiness. Spend 30 days focusing on one happiness activity until it becomes a habit and then move to another. Some happiness habits you can create might include; smiling at everyone you see, giving hugs, exercising regularly, sending positive text messages to your friends and family, or thinking positive thoughts.

“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” John Dryden

Help yourself be happier, by making happiness a habit.

 

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MyHappiness App

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #55 – Schedule Opportunities for Happiness

It is a common belief that happiness should be spontaneous. It is something that should just happen. But we often get so busy with the chaos of life we eliminate opportunities for happiness. We are so focused on what has to be done; we don’t leave time for spontaneity to occur. It is natural for responsibilities and obligations to force themselves to the front of your conscience and as a result conquer you entire calendar. Happiness is less aggressive and waits for an opening. If you want to be happy, you have to create room on your schedule for happiness.

So schedule opportunities for happiness. Put time your calendar to spend with friends, call a family member, exercise, work with a charity, or just do something fun. Schedule happiness opportunities daily or at a minimum weekly. To be happy, we have to take an active role in our happiness. We can’t just assume happiness will exist; we have to create opportunities for happiness.

 

Schedule opportunities for happiness and you will be happier. The people in your life might even appreciate it as well.

 

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

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MyHappiness App

Try the MyHappiness App

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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