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Why be happier? Simple: You’ll be more productive. People want to do the things that they love, and in some cases, that means doing other things that they don’t love in order to get to do the things they love later. However, it’s really easy to get to the end of doing all the things you hate (we are taught to put our most draining tasks early in the day so that they’re out of the way, after all), and not have any energy left to work on the things you love. When this continues for too long, it is easy to become extremely discouraged, depressed, and feel as though you just don’t “want” the things you love enough to deserve them.

To an extent, that may be true, but if you are already trying to squeeze every second out of every day, you may be trying to over-optimize your time. Or, to put it another way, you’re “all work and no play.” Here, I think we can find some of the most profound results we can get are in asking ourselves some very simple questions.

Why Do I Hate What I Hate?

Do you hate your job? Why? It’s important to know, because you need to know how to take action to remove the hate from your life. If something is less than satisfactory, you need to find the courage to distance yourself from it. If your reason for disliking your job comes down to the duties you perform, you should see if it is possible to move to a different set of tasks within the same company. If it has more to do with the people or the environment you work for/in, start searching for a better fit immediately. Life will treat you kinder if you respect your own wishes and dreams. If you aren’t willing to take steps to change the situation, then I would submit to you that you do not actually hate the situation. You just like to complain. I can’t stop you from complaining, but I would encourage you to stop, as life is too short to spend it stewing in negativity and the victim mentality.

What Do I Do All Day?

This is an important question. You need to know how you spend your time. This seems like a no-brainer, and it may seem like I’m just offering you the same “no distractions” cliché. However, I firmly believe that this can reveal a lot about which tasks excite you and which simply do not. When you get distracted, what your personality is telling you is that you would much rather be doing this other thing, rather than the thing that you know you should be doing. Simple procrastination does occur, and in those situations you probably know you just need to buckle down. However, in other situations, this is a powerful way to learn more about what it is that you enjoy doing. Conversely, the tasks which give you the most reliable feeling of “flow,” that is, being so in the moment that time flies by, are the ones which you are currently best emotionally equipped to handle. Ask yourself: If you could do only the tasks which provide flow, would you be happier? If the answer is yes, fight to accomplish exactly that. Not only will you be happier, but you’ll be way more productive.

Does My On-the-Clock Job Match My Off-the-Clock Dreams?

When the answer to this question is “no,” I can just about guarantee you one thing: You hate your job. It might not be “that bad,” or “boring, but easy,” but there is a part of you that resents having to do something that does not seem sync up with your dreams. Why? Simple: To you, your dreams are important. And dreams take a ton of time to figure out and bring to fruition. You have to set goals, work hard, and then set more goals and work harder. If you’re sinking half your waking life (or more!) into a job you cannot leverage towards future goals, you need to seek out that leverage opportunity pronto.

However, don’t assume that just because your job isn’t a direct match, it is doing nothing for you. I am a perfect example of this. I want to write novels. At first blush, the only thing that copywriting and novel writing have in common is that it involves putting words together into sentences. Moreover, this blog aside, I don’t really write that much on the job, as I am busier with managing other writers and getting content strategies down. However, at least I’m working with the language, gaining experience with how I phrase things, and getting experience with being productive when I do write.

Okay, so maybe my job lines up with my dreams better than most people’s. What about a lawyer who wants to be an actor? If they ever make a court appearance, they are learning a little bit about theatre because they have to convince a judge and/or jury. How about a waitress that wants to be a sculptor? Learning how to interact civilly with people is a universally needed skill, and it especially helps in the highly subjective world of art. Not to mention, artists more or less work for tips, when you think about it: Their livelihood is solely dependent on whether people they’ve never met before appreciate everything they’ve done for them. If you can, in any way, recast your current job as serving a goal that will lead to your dream, you will instantly feel more satisfied working in it, for as long as it makes sense to you to work on that goal. That last part is the tricky part: You have to figure out, at what point you will have gotten what you need out of your current job, and then you will have to move on to the next phase of your plans. This takes courage and a commitment to your passion, and it is probably to blame for more dissatisfied workers than any other factor.

Your dreams matter. They won’t materialize overnight, but if you believe in them and work hard, you’ll see progress. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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