How to Be Happy in Your Work

Are you happy in life? Are you happy in your job? Do you even know the things that should make you happy? As a renewal of motivation in our school, I met with all of my school teams recently to discuss this very thing. To be effective with students, I have come to realize that teachers and administrators need to be happy at school! Not giddy, but truly happy in our work. If we want our students to be happy and want to be in school, then we must make sure we are doing things that make ourselves happy and want to be in school as well!

I was recently motivated by my man, Tony Robbins, and his always impressive words of wisdom. I took this message to all of my teachers over the last month in team meetings.

I posted two questions on my board and asked our teachers:
(1) What makes us happy?
(2) What are three steps for making improvements in our lives?

We watched about the first 10 minutes of this video to find these answers and discuss them. Take some time to do this now. Not only will you have answers to these questions, but it may help you look at your own motivations and goals in a new light!


Don’t cheat – watch the video for the answers!

In our team meetings, we reviewed the questions above and made connections for ourselves and our students. If we want ourselves and our students to be happy, what do we have to do? Tony makes a strong argument that it will mean having a compelling vision, strong reasons, and reviewing it every day. It will mean finding a way to make progress and feel that progress in our lives.

Each time that we had this conversation with our teams, it took a different spin and each person had their own takeaways based on what they are going through in their own professional and personal lives. I’ve watched the first half of this video about a dozen times now and each time I take something different away for myself as well.

Happiness in Your Job

I really think Tony is on to something with this one. Happiness comes from an inward journey of progress. We can’t put this expectation on others that they should be doing something to make us feel happy. Only we can control how we feel. If you are struggling with this in your classroom or school and are constantly wishing that things were different, consider looking inward and changing yourself instead of wishing someone or something else should change. Get rid of those “if only’s” in your professional life. If only that one student was more respectful in my classroom, then I would be happy. If only that administrator treated me better, then I would be happy. If only that parent was more appreciative of my hard work, then I would be happy. 

How to Be Happy

Are you happy in your job? What can you do to help yourself in this area? Start with finding your ‘why’ in what you do. Having a clear and compelling vision and reasons for changing and growing are the very first step. Find reasons that pull you into your work every day with a sense of mission, purpose, and excitement. Rethink your obligations instead as opportunities and your world will take a different, more positive, hue. You will realize that you have much more control in your life and your own feelings that you would have thought before. Don’t be a victim of your own insecurities and if only’s. Take charge and make sure you have your ‘why’ and your ‘musts’ at the forefront of your daily agenda.

Change is inevitable. Be in control of the direction that these changes take you.

As a takeaway, I asked each teacher to write down their one word that was driving them right now and then share it with their team and then later with their students in their classrooms. Many of them had read my #OneWord2017 blog post describing my one word and what it meant to me. Listening to their reasons for their one word, a couple of things were interesting.
(1) It was really powerful to realize how personal these were to them. It made sense once I thought about it. Effective educators can’t separate their own passions from their professional lives. The two end up merging as one when teachers become so invested in their students.
(2) Their one words were not weaknesses or areas of growth like the teachers sometimes described. In fact, most of the time, I would have considered their one word one of their strongest assets!



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One Word In Action

It took me a few weeks, but I was able to reach all of our school teams with this lesson. I hope that it helped them reframe their own journeys. Not long ago, I had one teacher, Mr. Bodmer, show me his one word posted on his board in his classroom above his desk. He was excited to share and connect it to how he wanted his students to feel about their own learning journeys. His passion and drive for his one word of “relentless” had a direct impact on his students. He was so proud (as he should be) to share that out of his three classes that he teaches for math, 84 of 86 students passed their recent fraction unit test, and this is one of the more difficult tests each year for this grade level! Mr. Bodmer showed a mixture of ‘happiness’ for their successes swirled in with a tint of ‘not there yet’ frustration because as successful as he was, he didn’t get every student to pass. His passion and drive were contagious. What he didn’t realize was that he was also motivating me, not just his students!

Reasons come first, answers come second. -Tony Robbins

Stop worrying about the details. Know your ‘why’ and stay focused on that. Simon Sinek and his Golden Circle is a great reminder how important our ‘why’ is in convincing ourselves and others to accomplish goals. His Ted Talk titled Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action has been one of the more influential aha moments in my career and has completely changed my view of how to work with others.

Whatever we monitor and focus on gets done.

If you think you have this goal or this thing that you want to accomplish, but you don’t review it and feel it every single day, then you really don’t care enough about it. Most likely you won’t accomplish it either. Remember your reasons, make progress every day, and you will find the happiness you are looking for in your job.

What is your one word? How are you focusing on your professional journey and being happy in your work?