On the 3rd November 2020, expert coach Natasha Chatur took Yellow Evers through four exercises to increase daily work happiness.
The session relates to work and career mostly, but is applicable to all areas of your life, giving your clear questions to answer and subsequent actions to take to make sure you’re as excited and enthusiastic as you can be every single day.
Firstly Natasha Chatur introduces us to Work Happiness as a concept; what it is and why it is so important. She then explains how she became a coach in this area and lastly takes us the four amazing exercises. You will need a pen and paper to make the most of this session and if you missed anything the transcript is below too.
The purpose of this training session, with discussion and insight from attendees also, is to discover your enthusiasm, your excitement and your general mojo for your work and for your career, and how to really maximise your happiness.[Natasha refers to an open question we did in the chat live where we asked people to answer two questions. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the happiest you can be, how happy are you right now? And, second question, where would you like to be on that scale?]
Natasha is offering 1:1 Work Happiness coaching sessions to members for free for a limited time only. There is a limited amount of spots so be sure to book in quick!
The recorded session
Lauren: Okay, so without further ado, I’m going to pass over to Natasha, who is our work happiness coach, and she has a corporate background. And what I love most about Natasha is that she believes that in every situation where you’re feeling unhappy and dissatisfied there is always an opportunity. So today, obviously, we’re going to help you find what that is, identify some actions that you can take to help you feel happier in your day to day basis. And personally, I don’t think that this could come at a better time with second lockdown and winter and all of that sort of stuff! So, I’m going to pass over to Natasha. Now she’s going to talk through more about work happiness, what it is more about her and her background.
Natasha: Thank you, Lauren. And Thanks all for joining us on this Tuesday afternoon. And it’s really great to see you. And thank you for showing in the chat.
[Natasha is referring to an open question we did in the chat live, where we asked people to answer two questions. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the happiest you can be, how happy are you right now? And, second question, where would you like to be on that scale?]
Quite high numbers, which is great. So, lots of satisfaction kind of stepping up. But the important thing is there’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be – from a seven, eight or nine to 10. And so, this is about kind of shifting the needle a little bit to help you feel kind of more fulfilment and enjoyment from work – whatever that means to you.
Because kind of suddenly feeling like work and kind of sometimes also your career direction, is not looking as appealing as it once was, can be really destabilizing and, and it can catch you off guard when you suddenly get that feeling. Because you’re not really sure what’s off. But you can sense that something isn’t feeling quite right. And you end up in this like really foggy space off. But everything looks really good on paper. I’m used to, you know, enjoying work and being motivated and being engaged. But I’m feeling a real dissonance with my current work and my current career direction, or the project I’m working on. And, you know, if you’re anything like me, and I kind of work with these types of people who are they’re quite, they’re high achievers, they’re go getters, they kind of like really doing, they like work, they enjoy work, and it’s a big part of their lives. And so when you suddenly feel like you’re not as engaged as you’d like to be anymore, it can really affect you.
And it can even start to affect how you might feel outside of work. And you can start thinking about right, hang on, if something isn’t quite right here, but I’m not sure what to change. And then you can end up feeling quite stuck and quite lost because you don’t know where to start. And you might feel like you don’t have any influence over the situation, you might feel like you don’t have enough control to make the changes that you want to make. You might feel like ‘Oh, well I do have the control. But I’m not sure what changes to make.’
So, you’re still stuck, but in a in a different way. And so, it’s kind of really difficult not having that clarity about what you need to do. And in my experience, I like to call it a glitch. And it for me, it’s kind of a bit of an internal glitch when something inside of us changed and doesn’t quite work with what’s going on outside of you.
And it’s a conflict because maybe you’ve changed or maybe something else has changed. But there’s just a real sense of like, it’s just not it’s not seamless anymore, it’s not enjoyable. And if it’s a deeper glitch, and not just the tactical one, if this is something a bit deeper seated, and it’s it doesn’t really warrant a very tactical, practical, quick solution.
It’s not doesn’t tend to be an easy fix from what I see with the with the kind of the people that I work with. And so what I find quite helpful is like reframing this sense of feeling stuck and this sense of being feeling like it’s a real challenge. And reframing that to something needs to change and I need to work out what it kind of buys you some time it gives you some permission to do some more exploration because you don’t really have the answer straight away. And so when we think about work happiness, and you’re probably thinking ‘so what is work happiness?’
I’m going to read you a definition here. So, this is from expert faculty at UC Berkeley’s greater good Science Centre. They do some really good stuff out there around positive psychology and kind of the neuroscience behind it all anyway. They define happiness at work as feeling an overall sense of enjoyment at work, being able to gracefully handle setbacks, connecting amicably with colleagues, clients and customers and knowing that your work matters to yourself, to your organisation and beyond.
So it’s a really kind of detailed explanation of what work happiness is. This isn’t some fluffy, idealistic, you know, first world state that we should be trying to achieve. That’s a luxury. There’s a lot in that that is quite deep. And it’s about just having a sense of fulfilment, whatever you’re doing, it’s doing something with pride and doing something that you feel good out or doing something you enjoy, not really about the thing, it’s the feeling that you get from it.
Also, earlier this year, and Indeed.com recruiters worked with experts on happiness from the UN and the UN, of course, do the World Happiness survey. And I think it’s Denmark or someone that always comes first and the happiest countries in the world. And so they did some work with the UN, they worked with Oxford University and the University of California. And they’ve launched the ‘Indeed work happiness score,’ which I think is brilliant.
And it’s basically designed to make it easier for job seekers to understand the work environments they would be happy in, but also to give employers insights into what the key drivers of happiness are. And there’s 12 key drivers they uncovered. And by the way, if you’d like any more information in the stuff that I’m kind of throwing at you then feel free to get in touch – you can also find my article on Yellow Eve, which talks in a lot more detail about the 12 drivers of work. So, it is a thing.
But what it actually means to us individually will be very different. Because it will depend on our own kind of professional interests, it will depend on our personal values, it will just depend on our circumstances, on our goals. But the broader point is, that work happiness has common elements to it for all of us, and that with some time and attention, we can start to understand more about what that means to us as individuals to be happy at work. And it’s from that understanding and from that awareness comes the clarity to know what changes or adjustments you might want to or need to make.
So, it’s that quite huge step before being able to find a solution, which is about raising your level of awareness. And why is it important? I think if any of you’ve heard of Esther Perel, Esther Perel is fantastic. She’s a relationship, psychotherapist. But she also talks about our relationship with work. And she did this excellent keynote speech last year. And she reflects on this relationship revolution. And she was drawing a lot of parallels between our relationships with people in our relationships at work, which I find so interesting, and how she articulates things that we might all be feeling but can’t articulate. She’s excellent at that. And she talks about one of these big, big key changes in this relationship revolution is our rising expectations for what we want from work. And so she reflects, and these are her words, I’ll just read these out:
Never before have we expected so much from our work. We want work flexibility; we want our work to be attentive to us. And we want our jobs to help us find a sense of purpose and meaning and what we do. And we used to go to work as a means to an end. Now we can go to work for personal fulfilment, for purpose and identity development.
And like, these are huge needs and expectations that we put on to work and our relationship with work on something that wasn’t traditionally designed to give us these things. And kind of, I know from my experience, that if I’m not feeling these things in some shape, or form for work, I get really quite kind of frustrated, I get quite demotivated, it comes out in my attitude, and how engaged I am with the work I do. And it’s not really how I want to be or enjoy being. But it’s hard when you feel that level of dissonance to kind of, you know, bring that motivation and engagement to work. And I became the coach I am today based on my experience and feeling dissonance with work at various different stages of my career. And eventually feeling really unhappy with my career direction.
And I made it I made a new form agency side to client side, I moved from a global corporate to kind of scale up, I’ve moved from employee to self-employed, from working with teams to working on my own from being a senior marketing leader to a business owner. And these are all kind of shifts that I’ve made in response to not feeling good at work for whatever reason. And some of these changes were quite simple. And some of them were actually very challenging and took a lot of time. And some of them really challenging to work out. But that was the change that I needed to make or the adjustment I needed to make. But that in itself like taking the time to work out what the right change was or the right adjustment was to make me feel happier at work. And that was a journey in itself. I learned a lot about myself. And it was really critical, actually, it’s my personal development to how I am today. So, all these changes were really significant in my journey.
And I guess the point to take away from that is if you’re feeling like, something needs to change, something needs to adjust. The point is, it doesn’t have to be something big, all that you need to do is understand what’s driving that need for change. And then whether you make a small or a big adjustment, you’re still taking that step forward, you’re still moving the needle, from, you know, seven to 10, or eight to 10, or whatever numbers you put in that chart at the beginning of this.
Lauren: Yeah, I think that’s really great, Natasha, because I actually put a LinkedIn post, maybe I think Emma also commented on it. It was relating to my work experience and how I felt unhappy in most of my job roles as well. And actually, from doing a lot of inner work, I’ve realised why that is. And I know some people came to the values training session that we did last month, and it is recordedon Yellow Eve too so you can watch it at any time.
And I think it’s just then now reflecting back and thinking, there was no way that I was ever going to be happy there. Because I don’t enjoy those aspects of what that brand was doing. I didn’t agree with that. I didn’t think that was how it was run. And sometimes maybe it can feel like you don’t have much control, because you’re in that environment, or you have to go to work to pay the bills. And that’s where it can feel even more demotivating. So, I’m going to hand back to Natasha now and just talk through where you can actually start. So, Natasha has got some really good exercises and some questions that are going to make you think about how you can take accountability with your own happiness without feeling demotivated that it’s kind of the system that has got you down or external factors. So, I’m going to hand over to you again.
Natasha: And that’s such an important point actually is taking responsibility yourself. And having that sense of personal agency, because I think it can sometimes be quite easy or kind of automatic to kind of say, ‘Well, it’s because well, my managers really crap, or the job just isn’t good, or the commute is really annoying,’ or, you know, you can you can blame all these things. And you know, that might well be true. I think the point is that having a sense of kind of agency and taking responsibility and saying, ‘Well, it’s up to me, what I do about this is really important.’ And it’s actually one of one of the big drivers in kind of, of what positive psychology and work happiness is, is kind of autonomy, that sense of autonomy, in taking it upon yourself. And so, let’s see, we can get into these questions now. So, if everyone’s got a pen and paper, or if you take notes on your phone or on your laptop, just do what you need to do, and to grab something that will be helpful. And we’ll wait till everyone gets back.
A really good place to start is a bit like what Lauren said is, is actually to turn the perspective from external to internal, to raise your level of awareness of what is driving your happiness, what’s important to you. So, we’re going to work through four questions. And they are designed for that reason to help you explore your own drivers. And really, I would really invite you to kind of write down any thoughts that come up any questions or thoughts, they trigger, and write the questions down as well. Because you might want to take some time after the session to spend some more time thinking about the answers.
So, the first question is exactly what Lauren said, it’s values, and lots of people talk about values. And there’s a reason for that. And if you have watched the training – great – if you haven’t, don’t worry, it’s there to go back on. If you haven’t done your values, your values are basically your core drivers. And it’s funny because like any of us who would have been in school in our teens, like no career counsellor would have said, you know, what’s really important to you what drives you? You never get asked that question. And if they had asked that, then it would be useless now because values change. But the important thing is, is that values are like your internal GPS.
If you’ve ever been in a situation when you feel really instinctively drawn to something, but you can’t quite explain why. Or if you’ve ever really felt really in conflict with something, something’s really bothered you, but you can’t really articulate exactly why, you know, when someone goes, well, what’s bothering you, like, I’m not really sure but just don’t agree with it.
It’s often that your values are in conflict or they’re being aligned to when you get that really instinctive kind of push or pull to it. That’s what’s going on. It’s really kind of going against your core. So it’s really important to know what your values are because then not only can you understand why you might be drawn to or drawn away from things, it makes decision- making much easier because you have kind of a reference point, if you like to work against.
If, for example, work might say to you, ‘we’ve got this opportunity to work on this extra project. And we’d like you to, you know, to give you this opportunity’, and you’re thinking, ‘this sounds really good on paper, but for some reason, this isn’t really there’s something that doesn’t really feel right’. You know, you can buy yourself some time, that gives me 24 hours, I’ll come back to you, you can use your values as a reference point by what’s going on, is this working? Is it aligned with my values? Where is it not working with my values? And therefore, what do I need to do to come along to that project? What do I need to go back to them and say, ‘This is really interesting, but I need x, for me to say yes.’
So, it really gives you a better understanding of yourself, and it gives you some leverage, it gives you something somewhere to start when you don’t know where to start. And so I want you to the answer the question, how is your work aligned or not aligned to your values, take a second to write down what’s coming up. And I want you to write down an action on to make it more aligned.
Lauren: I thought I’d just draw on an example of something that I’ve done. And what I was talking about on LinkedIn was my personal values, which I only discovered this year, because it is a little bit of kind of introspection, and it can be a little bit challenging to do that. So, one of mine, for example, is contribution. Another one is growth. And another one is compassion. So hopefully, you can already see how those three things link to Yellow Eve. I’m very passionate about helping other people grow. And I’m very, very passionate about being compassionate. I suppose there’s a lot of passionate words in there, about supporting and about creating a community. And all of these things make me happy during this training session today, it makes me incredibly happy, introducing people to one another who can then go and support each other, like that makes me happy, because that’s all about growth, contribution and compassion. So I just thought I’d give an example of my values and how my work is values aligned.
Natasha: That’s great. Thank you, Lauren. It kind of just goes to show one feeds the other. So, knowing your values allows you to make the decisions and design Yellow Eve in a way that reflects your values and keeps you happy. But it also helps you make decisions on other things. And is there anyone that would like to share? Maybe an instance where knowing your values or how you’ve been able to reflect your values in your work or realise when they’re not reflected in work?
Yellow Eve member shares experience
Natasha: And so that’s a great kind of example of how, you know, making decisions and checking into your values. And actually using that as a kind of a reference point or a driver of the decisions you might be making as you continue to think about your future of work and your future career can increase the chances quite significantly of you being happy, sustainably happy with those choices.
So, the second question is, how is your work maximising your strengths? How is your work maximising your strengths and focusing on strength, and what you’re really good at? Does it do great things for your confidence, for resilience? Because there’s a lot of positivity that comes out of working on something that you are really good at. And these might be, you know, skills that you’ve gained, or it might be your natural talents, whatever they are, whatever, you are strong, and you get feedback from other people on what you’re really good at.
Think about how you can use your strengths more. And there’s also a sense of agency in this, you know, taking some control over this. How could you either develop them further? How could you create more value from them? How could you create more value for yourself or for your team, or for your project or for your organisation by using your strengths?
And think outside of the job description here. And whether this is about job crafting and adjusting your job or just going in and saying, ‘I’d really like to contribute to this, which is not in my job description. But I’m really good at this. And I’d like to do that.’ Think about how you can expand the use of your strengths. How can you extend the reach of your strengths?
If you’re not sure what your strengths are, it’s a great chance to ask other people. I, normally when I work with my coaching on this, I will suggest five, you know, five people and go and ask them, and have a mix of people that you work with or have worked with and a friend and a family member to get kind of all parts of your life. But you know, just ask some simple questions like, what am I really good at? What do you come to me for before you go to other people? That was a question that was really interesting for me.
So, when I asked people what they came to me for before other people, and they told me, this was one of my steps on my process to you know, leaving the corporate world and being coached. They all said the same thing. They said they come to me with really kind of big personal things because they know I’m non-judgmental, and I’m a really good listener. Now, I haven’t really known that about myself. I mean, I had to a certain extent, but what I hadn’t recognised was the value that other people were placing on that. It was only when I asked that question that people kind of said like ‘No, I can’t talk to anyone else about how I’m this is happening in my life without being judged. Like the way that you do it is really different.’ So, asking people those questions without any agenda, don’t be attached to the outcome. It can give you real insights as to how other people see you, which is again all about perspective – that can be really important. So, if you know your strengths, great, if you don’t, you’ve got some questions to ask people – send them an email. But once you know that, think about how you can maximise your strengths at work. That will help you find more positivity, more resilience, more confidence, and generally make you feel happier. And so again, I want you to take an action there and write down one thing you can do to take a small step forward on that. And to write it down. Don’t overthink about whether you can do it or not, or whether you will do it or not, or whether you’ve got the time or not just write it down. Because again, there’s another like big psychological thing about once you write things down, there’s more chance to happening, we’re not going to just write the actions.
Lauren: And would anyone like to share like maybe in the chat, like what they’re good at and get some positivity flowing in the chat if anyone wants to talk as well?
Yellow Eve member: I was just thinking, it reminded me of an exercise. And I really liked the title of it, it sounds exactly the same, Natasha, it’s called ‘The glimpse of brilliance.’ So whatever it is that you happen to be brilliant at, you might only use it in one really small area of your job. And actually, to increase your happiness and your effectiveness is this idea of decluttering. So, you work out what your glimpse of brilliance is, you declutter the things that you’re not so good at, and probably somebody else should be doing, because that’s their glimpse of brilliance, and you just do it more in different directions. So, you can have more impact. I just thought ‘glimpse of brilliance’ is such a nice concept.
In terms of strengths, I think it’s really interesting as an entrepreneur, because I feel like I’m really very good at my job. And it’s taken me decades to say that I’m so very good at my job. But what is interesting as an entrepreneur, solopreneur, or small business is actually you don’t just do your job, you do so many other things. And that can be really challenging. So, for me, it’s around digital marketing and social media, not something I’m very good at. So, it can make me feel unhappy in my job. I think that’s why I put seven out of 10, I think because actually, I love what I do. But the process of running a business is more complicated when you’re a solopreneur. So, how can I? How can I get rid of that clutter? How can I outsource that, perhaps, so that I can do more of what I’m really, really good at? And I think I’m going to go out and I’m going to ask people what they think I could do for them to help them more. Because I’m not quite sure. I mean, I think I know what I know what I’m good at, but I’m not sure how other people need me to help them. So that’s what I’m going to do.
Natasha: Brilliant. Thank you, Emma, that the glimpse of brilliance. And that’s interesting what you said there about. And it’s not just about identifying your strengths and maximising them, but also decluttering you know, how can you outsource or find another way of doing the things that really make you unhappy, and kind of having a nicer movement then of increasing one and decreasing the other. So that’s, that’s great. And that’s this is where virtual assistants come in really, really well, because they’ll come and do a lot of the stuff they don’t want to do as a business. And it really does make it make a change. Because normally what they can do in two hours, it takes me you know, like half a day. It’s much better for everyone.
Okay, so I hope everyone has an action for how they’re going to maximise their strengths. And, or, do a bit of decluttering of the stuff that they know brings them down.
Question number three, is the first few questions were a bit more about exploring kind of internally, and the questions were inside or outside of work. How can you explore what you’re naturally curious about? And learn more about something you’re interested in? So inside or outside of work, how can you explore what you’re naturally curious about and learn more about something you’re interested in. And when we get into escaping the rat race, you know, we can close out… we get into this very kind of blinkered, blinded kind of space where we’re just kind of following a nose and doing what’s right in front of us and we can forget about those things that we love.
We forget about that instrument that we used to play or that sport that we used to do, or that, you know, the extracurricular hobby or interest that we loved that when we did it, nothing else mattered. And we were in total flow, and we’ve forgotten about all of that. So, I just want you to, like, take some time and remind yourself – and this might even be a conversation that you have with someone. And sometimes the conversation with a parent is helpful here. Like what are the things that I used to love when I was small, but anyway, just think about anything.
Again, don’t overthink it, don’t overanalyze it, just think about what comes up for you. Because when you focus on things that genuinely really instinctively interest you, and that you can do, you know, you don’t need a lot of motivation to do it but get so much back from it, there’s something there.
So, an example I’ll give you is, I was working in financial services. And you know, it’s very kind of standard. And I was feeling really, really unfulfilled, I was kind of like, gosh, I just, I’m not, I’m not doing anything of any value. I’m not doing anything purposeful. Now, I wasn’t going to change my job or anything that. That wasn’t the space I was in. I was kind of happy in my job for other reasons. But I was feeling really like I wasn’t doing purposeful work. I thought I wanted to do some voluntary work, but I want to give my time and do something that helps other people. And so, I started researching it. And I just started talking to friends and seeing what they did. And I ended up going to an information evening for the Samaritans. And it was just, you know, I think it was like an evening, or was it a day, I can’t remember it was a few hours, I turned up and I kind of did this information evening.
Again, I had no agenda, didn’t know where it would lead, it was just something I was really interested in. And that had led me on such a journey. Because the kind of the domino effect of doing that then signing up, and then meeting all these new people. And then using a skill set that I didn’t use the tool really, and suddenly realising I was quite good at it. And long story short, suddenly, like two years down the line, I’ve got my own coaching business. So, it’s not about you know, don’t overthink what it can do for you, just do it, just try some something. But think about when you’re most joyful when you’re most happy. And this doesn’t mean you have a career change and go and suddenly become a dance instructor because you love salsa. This is just about having, again, that balance and that and that positivity and happiness because that will translate and kind of filter into other parts of your life.
And you also never know where it might lead. Because you’ll meet people who like the same things as you and are doing different things. That’s what I loved about Samaritans, lots of like-minded people, but doing really, really different things with their jobs and careers that really opened my mind outside of the corporate nine to five. So, write down an action here on how you’re going to take one small step forward on this. How are you going to explore what you’re naturally curious about and learn more about something you’re interested in?
It might even be posting on Facebook, or ‘Hey, I used to do this and I really loved it. Does anyone know how I can get into it again?’ That might be your action. Remember, the action is not about having the answer. It’s just about taking one small step in the exploration. So, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to try and figure it all out. Anyone got any ideas of what they’re going to do?
Yellow Eve member shares experience.
Natasha: Thank you, Jade. Yeah, so true. You never know where it’s going to lead. But that’s almost the excitement of it, isn’t it? There’s always opportunity.
Okay, so question number four. Who in your network and your network’s network, inspires you? Someone that you admire, someone that intrigues you for the work that they do, or the career that they have? I want you to think about who’s coming to mind, right down a handful of names. Anyone that’s coming to mind, anyone who you admire and who intrigues you, someone you’re curious about, and for the work that they do, or the career that they have?
You know, there’s always that someone that you know, you’re your partner’s friends, husbands, wife, someone and you’re like, gosh, I love what she does, or she’s so interesting. I’m not sure why I find it so interesting, or the someone on LinkedIn, who’s always doing writing stuff. So just think about, and this is, again, the autonomy of getting a bit more actively engaged.
So, don’t just passively let these people be part of your life without having a conversation with them. Because you never know what can come from that. Again, don’t be attached to the outcome, don’t wonder what they’re going to say and what you’re going to say. So, the action here is write down the names. Write down a brief kind of pitch, I say pitch, but what I mean is like, how are you going to position the opening of the conversation, I’d really like to talk to you because… to give them something, and then I want you to write down an action to contact them.
And just have an idea of some questions – prep a bit before that call. I’m really curious about how you got to what you’re doing. What do you really enjoy? What one piece of advice would you give me when I’m feeling like this stage in my career?
But talking to other people is really good for broadening your perspective, and for kind of opening your mind creatively to what other possibilities might be there. You get used to kind of seeing what’s going on for you. But you also get access to someone else’s experience and Intel, and their network. All it takes for someone to go, oh, gosh, I don’t think I can help you. But I know this person x is doing that, would you like me to put you in touch? So just think about it and again, don’t overthink things, doesn’t have to be the people with the fancy job title or you know, the people that you really kind of spark your curiosity. And you really want to know more about what they do, how they did it, why they do it.
And so that’s it. So, I mean, this is just the tip of the iceberg here. But hopefully, you’ve got a handful of actions there. And I would really encourage you to after this session, plan those actions in however you plan your week or your month or whatever, put them in some way, put them in your calendar, put them in your reminders, actually do them. Because that is where change happens. That is where you shift the needle is my taking action, however small just take the action.