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10 Habits That Will Make Us Happier

10 Habits That Will Make Us Happier

Happiness is something that we all seek. Every goal we set, every achievement we pursue, every relationship we engage in, and every journey we embark on is really just an attempt to feel happiness.

All of us seek happiness, and it comes in various forms. However, our habits have a major impact on whether or not we experience happiness. This article will list 10 “Happiness Habits” that, if consistently practiced, will create a measurable difference in our lives.

1. Align Our Goals With What We Really Value

Quickly ask yourself these questions: Are my goals authentic? Why do I want to achieve [insert goal]? Do I truly value what I am pursuing?

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If our core values are not properly aligned with our goals and daily actions, there will be inner conflict.  It is difficult to sustain happiness with a perpetual sense of inner conflict.  Our goals and actions need to be aligned with what we uniquely value as individuals.  So if they aren’t aligned, we need to make a change today.  Either set a new goal that is aligned with something we uniquely value, or stop pursuing something that has little intrinsic meaning.

2. Visualize The Absolute Best Case Scenario

It is natural for us to envision “what could possibly go wrong” in a given situation.  In many cases this actually isn’t a bad thing.  It allows us to make peace with the “worst case scenario” and plan appropriately.  However, it doesn’t get us excited.  So if we feel so inclined to prepare for the worst, we should also have the habit of “seeing the best” as well.  When we see the best, it gets us excited, and it provides us with a sense of hope, confidence and creativity.

3. Give Our Very Best In Everything We Do

Inner conflicts are often at the heart of unhappiness. A great way to create an inner conflict is to give a half-hearted effort in what we are pursuing. We can’t always control our immediate circumstances. Things happen to us that are outside of our control, but we can control how we react to situations. We can control our actions, and we can control our attitude‒no matter what happens to us. When we live each moment of our life with a sense that we are always giving our best, we will feel at peace. We won’t have regrets, and no matter what happens to us we will hold our heads up high knowing that we did our best. This makes us happy.

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4. Move Towards What Scares Us

Fear stops us from fulfillment. It also inhibits happiness. When we move towards what scares us, we achieve a powerful personal victory. It is the victory of the self over the self. When we achieve this victory we feel fulfilled, and we feel happy. Moving towards our fear also increases our complexity as individuals, and causes us to learn. Both of these are results that make us feel good. A habit of moving towards fear should be done in small, measurable steps.  Are you afraid of public speaking? Don’t sign up for a TED talk quite yet (perhaps that will come later). Start first with a small venue. Expand your comfort zone a small step at a time. Over time (as this becomes a habit) you will be amazed at your growth, and one day when you stand on that TED stage, it will seem surreal, but you only get there one step at a time. One victory over fear at a time.

5. Be Present. Live For Today

Living in the past can sometimes be nostalgic (and memorable), but it can also be painful and depressing. It is so easy to recall past mistakes and missteps. It is so easy to dwell on failures and the things that we “should have done.”  Living for the future can sometimes be exciting (if we are proficient at visualizing a compelling future), but it can also make us anxious (and scared) when we start to think about all the things we must do to make that future a reality.  The solution to the dangers of past and future living is to live completely in the present.  The present is all that we have anyway.  When we live in the present, we experience flow.  We do better work.  We eliminate anxiety and we thwart fear.

6. Learn Something New

If we believe that learning leads to happiness, then we have an unlimited opportunity for an exciting and fulfilling life.  There are literally limitless opportunities to learn.  You can learn a new skill or a new language.  You can learn strategies and tools that will help you to cultivate your existing talents and abilities.  You can expand your knowledge of the world, and other cultures.  You can live your entire life, immersed in learning related activities, and still never know it all. The reality is that learning does make us happy. It gives us confidence. You don’t need to go back to school to learn (although that can be fulfilling as well), just go to your preferred search engine, type some keywords of things that you’d like to learn and start reading.  Build on what you know every day.

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7. Exercise and Eat Healthy Foods

The better we eat, the better we’ll feel. The more we move, the better we’ll feel. This habit is also one that will create immediate results.  Sometimes, when we are in a bad mood, or perhaps we’ve had a bad day at work, the solution is a simple one: get to the gym, go for a walk or run, get on the bike, or go for a swim. Whatever our preferred method is, the results are the same.  We feel better after we exercise.

8. Detach From The Opinions of Others

Relationships bring meaning, purpose and richness to our lives.  They also can be a significant source of pain and frustration if we become fixated on the opinions of others.  The reality is that not everyone is going to like us.  Sometimes, just by being ourselves, we unintentionally push people away, and if we try to change this (by being someone who we aren’t) we unintentionally push others away (who like our authentic version better).  There is only one of us, and that is the person who we need to be 100% of the time‒the real, authentic self‒and if it means that not everyone likes us, so be it.  We will be much happier over time if we live as who we really are, and detach from the opinions of others.

9. Detach From Results. Focus Only On Actions

This is a difficult one, but if we master it, it will change our lives.  We pursue goals because we want a result, and there is nothing wrong with this.  All of us do it.  However, if we become completely fixated on the result, and fail to achieve it, then we may look at the endeavor as “wasted time.” We also may be so disappointed in not obtaining the result that we won’t see all of the growth that we experienced.  Some people feel that the saying “the journey is the destination” is simply a cliche, but if we truly live it, it is far more.  When detaching from results‒and focusing only on our actions, on being present at each moment, and on giving the very best that we have‒becomes a habit, we have great possibilities for happiness.

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10. Live Life As A Great Experiment

When we are kids, anything is possible.  Life is one giant experiment and we are the great scientists. There are no failures.  There is only feedback.  We are willing to experiment and try just about anything that interests us.  There are no limits. Unfortunately, for many of us, this enthusiasm, and willingness to experiment, fades with age.  We get risk-adverse.  We start worrying about failure, especially if that failure is visible (and could lead to criticism).  We start doubting what is possible. We believe that we are being “practical” and “pragmatic” and we hypnotize ourselves to think that this is the grown-up way to act.  However, it often doesn’t make us happy, and we’d be happier if we just retained the curiosity we had as a child.  If we can capture the child-like innocence of treating life like a giant experiment, and we are the amateur scientists, then the world will remain a wonderful mystery, and we will constantly feel intrigued and happy.

More by this author

Ryan Clements

A lawyer turned marketing professional, entrepreneur and writer who writes about entrepreneurship, career and personal development.

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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