How to be happy at work in 2009

Now that 2008 is nearly over, it makes a lot of sense to reflect on the year that passed. Unfortunately, most people do this by looking back and making a tally of everything that went wrong. The things they should have done. The goals they should have reached. The progress that didn’t come.

I think you will learn much more if you turn this approach upside-down, so here’s my suggestion for a new-year’s exercise in happiness at work.

Simply because the best way to be happy at work in 2009 is to find out what worked for you in 2008 and get yourself more of that.

So think back on your working life in 2008 and answer the following 10 questions. It’s important that you write down your answers – it helps you to reflect more deeply about the questions.

  1. What went really well for you at work in 2008?
  2. What did you do that you’re proud of?
  3. Who have you helped out?
  4. How have you grown and developed professionally?
  5. How have you grown and developed personally at work?
  6. Who has really appreciated your work?
  7. Who has helped you out and been there for you?
  8. Who have you admired at work in 2008?
  9. What have been some fun moments at work in 2008?
  10. Which 5 things from 2008 would you like to have more of in 2009?

If you like you can share your answers in a comment here.

Have fun – and have a happy 2009 at work!

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13 thoughts on “How to be happy at work in 2009”

  1. Wasn’t there a study recently that showed that people who wrote letters of gratitude were less likely to be depressed? I feel like these moments of perspective and taking stock are sooooo important — just like you’ve outlined here. :)

  2. I’ve admired your work. I know how hard it is to get a blog off the ground, staying on top of all the latest news, ideas, and trends is not easy. That doesn’t include presentations, new articles, and traveling.

    My goal is to give presentations on work happiness by February of 2009. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth while is ever easy.

  3. Great questions. I’ve copied them out and will answer them later. They definitely help with measuring 2008 and planning for 2009.

    It’s always great to find tools out there so that I don’t need to “recreate the wheel.”



  4. homework is so stupid that is makes me stressed. I have music lesson every night and also a consert. i don’t have a that much time to do all 10 things of homework. I hate homework soooooooooooooo much.

  5. Hello Alex,

    Thanks for this great post on a more positive approach to career development. I’ve included it in a roundup titled Seven Reasons to Stay Up in a Down Economy.

    The idea of focusing on what you did right over the past year reinforces the idea of focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses.

    The Gallup organization has done significant research on this and found that people tend to focus on changing their weaknesses, rather than amplifying their strengths.

    It’s an approach that doesn’t work. Here’s a link for more information:

    Happy New Year!


  6. what went really well for me in 2008 at work,,,coping with changes to the new academic year structure
    what did you do that you are proud of,,,, meeting deadlines and getting results to students within a short time scale,, meant working lots of overtime!
    Who have you helped out? …………Tutors who needed information at the drop of a hat and listened to distressed students
    Grown and developed professionally? more accepting of my limitations
    Grown and developed personally? accepted responsibility for how I feel and what I do
    who has been appreciated of what you do? students and tutors
    who has helped you out and been there for you? One colleague was good at noticing when I was snowed under and stayed late to help out.
    who have you admired at work? one of the managers who just gets on with the work, quietly and brilliantly and has it all under control.
    Fun at work? occasional office banter
    5 things I would like more of in 2009:
    challenges with IT
    more fun, collaborative working
    more chances to teach /lead /manage people
    more opportunity to talk to students
    more opportunity to work directly supporting others
    None of which I am likely to get in my current role
    So,, I took a chance,, and opted for a new role ( again) . Its a real leap in the dark but hopefully there will be more opportunities to make a difference! I have stuck at this job for 2 1/2 years despite realising its limitations shortly after joining. I could stay and would make a good job of it, but something has come up with shorter hours so maybe I can then do all that I want to do in the evenings!

    this exercise was very useful,, as always.Thanks Alexander

  7. Many years ago I developed some “Rules about Work”.

    They’ve stood the test of time:

    * Have a vision and inspire those around you with that vision.
    * Work with inspiring people.
    * Create work that is at the edge of what has been done before.
    * Make a lot of money.
    * Have fun every day.

    What are other people’s

  8. I question this subject all the time, My place of employment is all about the HUSH WORD. we don’t need to know story. have you ever heard of someone saying, Gee you’ll get fired for asking, or better yet the cold shoulder treatment.
    I have yet to figure out how these managers get these positions, and yet they have no work history of there experience. sort of like a bully! actually this topic is more and more of an eye opener especially in this movement of job losses.

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