3 Keys to Being Happy at Work

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Have you ever felt trapped in your current job or career? I know I have felt that way in the past.

I met David at one of my resume writing workshops a few years ago. David had just turned 40, and was recently laid off from work. David was an engineer who had built his career working in technology companies. David didn’t like his job. But he had invested so much of his life into his career that he felt obligated to stay. He thought it would be too risky to even contemplate a change. So he had resigned himself to the idea that he was stuck there. He was never going to be the person who loved his job. It broke my heart to hear the disappointment and resignation as David talked.

There was a time when I, too, believed that it was too late to change my mind, and change direction. I now know that it is never too late for anyone to make changes to find happiness at work. The average person spends more waking hours at work than any place else, including time with family and friends. At the same time, the average person spends very little time thinking about how to love their job.

If you’re going to spend so much of your life and time at work, wouldn’t you prefer to enjoy that time? What if you could get up in the morning and look forward to going to work?

Here are 3 Key Elements to Being Happy at Work.

1. Daily Activities

What do you do at work? What are your main tasks and activities in an average week? Are you using your strengths? Are you using the strengths you love to use? Many of us fall into a job or career path, and find out as we do it that we don’t really like what we do. It takes far more effort to get out of bed and go to a job where you don’t enjoy the things you do every day.

David began his career as an engineer, and then because of his experience, he moved into project management. David loved the hands on problem solving work he did as an engineer. But he hated managing projects and people. He felt removed from the work.

If you are no longer doing work you enjoy, then it’s time to re-evaluate your career and look for work where you get to do the things you are great at, that you enjoy doing.

2. Core Values

This is one of the most overlooked or ignored elements to job happiness. What are your values at work and in life? What are the values of the company you work for? Your values don’t need to match, but they DO need to be compatible. If your values are in conflict with those of the organization you work for, you will never be happy there. You will always feel conflicted in some way. And you cannot change an organization’s values, nor should your try to change your own just to fit in.

In David’s case, he valued risk-taking and trying new things. He worked for a company that did not like to take risks on any project. They only wanted to follow the tried and true, proven methods. Neither value is inherently “wrong” – but they are in conflict. David wanted to try new approaches and solutions on his projects, and he was not able to do so. This left him feeling extremely frustrated about his work.

If your values are in conflict with those of the company you work for, then it is time to move on. And in order to increase your happiness at your next job, be sure to research the company values before you accept an offer.

3. Roles You Play

Are you part of a team? Are you the expert in something? Are you a manager or team leader? What roles do you play? And what roles do you want to play?

David loved being the expert on a team. He loved being part of collaborative team. In his last job, he was the project manager on the team, but he wasn’t involved in the project. He felt like he wasn’t contributing because he wasn’t in the role he loved most. He felt separated from the team, rather than part of it. In order for David to be happy at work, he needed to be a contributing part of the team, not managing it, but doing part of the work. That is the role in which he thrived.

If you find yourself in a role you do not like, that is something you can change by speaking with your boss. Let her know what you want, and ask her how you can move into a position where you serve in that role. If she says nothing can be done, consider transferring to another department.


As David began to use theses 3 keys to finding happiness at work, he was able to transform his career into one that he enjoyed. He is now employed at a company that he likes in a job he loves doing. Once you start asking the right questions, you too will discover what you can do to improve your own work experience.

Which key unlocks the mystery to being happy at work for you? I’d love to hear them on my blog.

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Client Stories

What did you need at the time you hired Lori?

I wanted to work in my industry and didn't know how to progress any further than I was. I knew I had much experience that could be put in the industry of my choice but not how to parlay that experience. I needed guidance.

What did you and Lori do together?

Many, many things. Overall, to get clear in my mind what I offered and really what I wanted in a work environment. Every week was another epiphany after another. One of my favorites was the "knowing your core values". Having had some experience on this subject I was all ready to dive-in. Core Values is key. Knowing your core values. 

Lori makes it so easy to pinpoint. One time we were speaking about something else and we both realized...OMG...that is a core value for me. I hadn't written it down before, but discovered later that if ever a core value fit me...it was the one I mentioned at that time.  Knowing that piece of information also answered a long standing question in my head.  One of the "why's" as to my constant upset with other places I had worked.

What were the results from working with Lori?

Many things. One is a great looking resume. I thought, wow, I look good and it was all from work I had already done elsewhere but didn't know how to say it or present it. Another is the clarity of knowing where I will feel good when I do work. What I really want and with the kind of people I really want to work with on a daily basis. This entire process is so valuable. The best money I ever spent and I am not kidding or exaggerating. I was only hoping it would be valuable and it really was valuable.< I know stuff and it has value and is marketable. Lori showed me those things and it gives me confidence.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Lori delivers above and beyond. The highest quality of exchange, 'more than you expected.' I told my friends this over and over: 'I wish I had her 10-20-even 30 years ago.' Every one, and I mean EVERYONE, needs a Lori. Her understanding,patience, how she problem solves, putting things in simple terms, was mind blowing. I wish I could that well. I present a problem and she could turn it around and yes...another epiphany.

Lori, is worth every penny. It isn't about a title. It is about enjoying everyday doing work you love with people you like and are like minded. You'll know what you are looking for when you interview.  I never say this, but I will say it here. Lori is a major key into the rest of my life doing what I always wanted to do. That is: Being happy doing what I do, everyday. Something I have been saying for years. Allowing Sherlock...to be Sherlock.  Finding my people. They are out there and now I know what I am looking for in that respect.


Sherlock Ganz, Los Angeles, CA