How to Have a Good Day (a great career…and outstanding life!)

have a good dayHow to Have a Good Day.

Here’s an interesting bit of trivia… If you Google “How to Have a Good Day” (with quotes) , you’ll get about twice the results as searching for “How to Have a Great Day.” Give it a try.  This suggests to me, most people set the bar too low for themselves.

Regardless, I have some useful tips for how to have a good day, which will then translate into having a great career and outstanding life.

First, you have to understand what leads to crappy days, and work to eliminate some of that.  I say some because  “es happens.”  The goal is not to eliminate all the crappiness of your day, but rather, keep it minimal.  Also, you’ve got to change your reactions to the frustrating stuff. “It’s not what happens, it’s what you do about what happens.”  As you neutralize the crappy stuff, you’ll increase all the stuff that makes a day and career great, and a life outstanding.

First, 10 Reasons Some Days Are Crappy (and what to do about it)

  1. Not achieving anything close to your potential.  If you are like most people, you are no where close to achieving your true potential in life.  This fact is definitely keeping you from having good days, a great career and outstanding life.  Professionally, I spend my days working with incredible people, but for the reasons noted below, many are leaving a lot of raw potential on the table and their purpose and passions in life seem locked inside.  They may know how to have a good day, and a great career, but for a variety of reasons highlighted below, they won’t have a great career or outstanding life.  The gap between their potential and performance is just too wide.
  2. Not using your “signature strengths.” Having a good day, and a great career, is about making a difference to the world around you.  To do that, you’ve got to use and really leverage your unique strengths and gifts, as well as passions — the stuff you love doing.  Chris Gardner, the homeless man turned millionaire (see movie: The Pursuit of Happyness) said it best: “…the secret to success: find something you love to do so much, you can’t wait for the sun to rise to do it all over again.”  We’re all born with a constellation of latent abilities and talents that must be refined, shaped and developed.  Signature strengths are not just what you can currently do, it’s what you have the raw potential to do.
  3. Being around negative people.  The world has enough energy-draining, self-centered, complaining and blaming people who make you feel like crap.  I’m guessing it’s 10-20% of people who project negativity or make others feel like crap.  I know this is easier said than done, but you have to find a way to:
    1. Reduce the amount of time you are in the presence of these negative people,
    2. Reduce the amount of time they bother you after you’re no longer in their physical presence, and
    3. Change your emotional and cognitive reactions to them when in their presence (e.g., reframe their rude or negative comments, change your expectations of them)
  4. Not making progress on what matters to you.  Progress on “the important stuff” is the antidote to crappy days.  When you’ve had a good day, progress is usually in the mix.  Progress might be financial, relational, work product, learning, etc.   It’s tough to have anything but a crappy day when you’ve not made real progress.
  5. Being disconnected from your Purpose.  If you don’t know your purpose at work, and more importantly, in your life, you’re at risk of having lots of crappy days.  When you’re clear about your Purpose in life, and are connecting your actions to your Purpose, chances are you’ll have a great day.  (Do you know your Purpose?  Want to know how to find out your Purpose in life?  See below.)
  6. Not learning interesting or valuable things.  Even though most people didn’t love learning in school, most people do actually love learning — even if they don’t like the process of learning.  That is, you love when things “click” and you “get it.”  But you probably won’t love the tougher parts — the struggles — with learning new things.  To have a great day, learn new, valuable things.
  7. Losing focus and being unproductive.  Stop yourself each day when you’ve hit a productivity slump!  Be on the lookout for it too.  It will creep up on you.  During these energy-loss focus lags — maybe at 11am or 2pm, you’re likely to make unwise decisions and waste valuable time.  It might start with checking out a news website, playing a smart phone game “for just a sec,” or glancing at social media.  But before you know it, you’re buried in a twisted stream of tangents and tabs on your browser, wondering “what was I supposed to be doing again?”  Believe it or not, going for a short walk, or closing your eyes for 2-5 minutes, will help you refocus and ramp back into productivity.
  8. Being disconnectedness from your Vision.  As noted in #4, progress will help you have a good day.  But progress toward what?  What’s your vision, your “seductive view of tomorrow’s opportunities”?  Without more clarity of what you want — your long-term goals, dreams and ambitions — you won’t know what “progress” truly is.  Seneca said it best.  “When a [person] does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.”
  9. Settling for “good” not, not great.  As noted above, more people are aiming for a “good day” than a “great day.”  I suggest you aim more for excellence, knowing you might let yourself down at times.  But take that risk.  It’s worth it.
  10. Letting Fear Win. Ultimately, this may be the most important reason you’re having a crappy day: you don’t show the courage needed to confront the obstacles around you.  You don’t have the conversation.  You are afraid of the consequences. You’re afraid of what people will think.  You’re afraid of failure.  You’re just playing it too safe.  But when you’re brave, the truth is, your day could be crappier…(since you’re taking a risk) but your career and life will move toward outstanding!

Next, 10.1 Tips on How to Have a Good Day

In addition to the 10 sources of crappiness listed above and the tips for overcoming them, these tips elaborate how to have a good day, great career and outstanding life.

  1. Set the bar higher for yourself.  Basically, don’t be so lazy!  Raise your standards for yourself and your life.  Your life isn’t a dress rehearsal.   This is it.  It is game time.  And if self-control is not a strength (welcome to the club), get someone (e.g., coach, trainer, mentor), to help you raise the bar and hold you accountable for closing the gap between your potential and your output.  For candid feedback and accountability, use the free app to get the feedback you need to improve.
  2. Discover your strengths.  If you don’t know what your “signature strengths” are, ask 3 people “what makes me special or unique?” and “what do you think I’m  outstanding or world-class at?”  This experience, when done face to face, can be one of the most powerful events you may ever have in your life. Seriously. (I’m betting you’re so scared, you won’t do it!)  Once you have clarity, use those strengths daily. (Note: what people say are the important clues to your Purpose in life.)
  3. Be in the presence of greatness; or at least, surround yourself with positive people.  Emotions and attitudes are contagious.  When you see someone with “the common cold of negativity,” wash your hands of them.  Surround yourself with enthusiastic, smart, driven, optimistic and passionate people.  They are A FUEL SOURCE for you and inspire you to achieve great things in your life.   Being around great people will help you be move toward being a fuel source for others too.  (Note: Make sure you don’t bring down the energy from positive people!   These awesome people might stop inviting you if you’re sucking the life out of ’em.)
  4. Make a little progress today on the big things.  Do one little thing today on something that’s important, but not urgent.  Look at a big want, or choose something from your bucket list.  Ask yourself, “What’s the smallest little thing I can do today in the spirit of achieving this one big goal?”  As a concrete example, if “publish a book” is on your bucket list, go through your contacts today to find someone who’s gotten a book published and set up a time for lunch with them.  They’ll give you valuable tips to get started.  This little step will be exciting, and turn a crappy day into a great day.
  5. Look deep inside yourself (and in the world) to find your Purpose.  Ask yourself, “What do I really want more of?” and “What do I want less of?” and “What am I really longing for?” and “When I’m at my best, and really in a zone, what am I doing?”   (Side note: I recently clarified my three-part purpose, and it’s been powerful:  To Enhance Value, Explore Insights and Empower Development.)
  6. Learn something valuable.  This tip is simple.  Learn something valuable today.   New valuable knowledge, especially the information that will lead to progress, will help ensure you’ll have a great day.  You’ll feel more powerful, competent and ready to advance.
  7. Be more productive.  Turn off the TV at night.  Better yet, don’t turn it on.  Replace this activity with deeply gazing into your calendar’s eyes.  Explore whether tomorrow is “designed” to help you achieve your most important goals and objectives.   Make a little tweak to improve it.  Then, go to bed, 30-60 minutes earlier than normal.  Get up with a clearer sense of your areas of focus — where you’ll make progress to achieve your longer term Vision. (Don’t have one, see #8.)
  8. Create and articulate your Vision.   My favorite definition of a vision is: “A seductive view of tomorrow’s opportunities.”  Basically, a Vision is a picture in your mind, or story that entices you to go after opportunities.  To begin envisioning a better future, be like a kid.  Dream.  No matter how old you are, your life is not over.  Take a risk, create an exciting Vision for your future.  It turns out, most people on their death beds have only regrets about what they DIDN’T do, not what they DID do.
  9. Add value.  Make something or someone better.   Improving things, especially lives, will certainly de-crapify your day, career and life.  Generosity is more correlated with happiness than achieving wealth.
  10. Let courage win. People often know deep down what would make their life amazing, more meaningful, and something they’d be proud of.  But they don’t do it.   Fear creeps in.  This TED Talk by Larry Smith on Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career hits the nail on the head.
  11. Stop blaming the world.  Others are not stopping you.  And you do have time.  Stop using that excuse.  (Do you watch sports? Binge on Netflix series? Dancing with the Stars a fav? Video games help kill the time?)  Figure out what’s getting in the way; replace those activities with value-adding stuff to ensure you have a good day, a great career and outstanding life!



About Curt Buermeyer

I am the founder and president of LeadPeople. I hope you enjoyed this post and encourage you to subscribe to receive these in your inbox. Thanks for visiting!

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