Productivity

Why You Aren't Happy (And What You Can Do About It)

No one ever said that life was easy, and none of us ever assumed that we would get all that we desire without hitting at least a few obstacles along the way. But come on! Does everything have to always be so hard? If this sounds like you, take heart; you’re not alone. And believe it or not, the answer to that question is no, it doesn’t. Things don’t have to always be so difficult. So why are you hitting all those brick walls? And more importantly, what can you do to stop hitting them?

Illustration: Tina Mailhot-Roberge.

You’re Not Organised

Now don’t take offence — I’m one of the most disorganised people you will ever meet, a talent I come by naturally. And I can tell you with great certainty that it most definitely affects my ability to be as productive as I would like to be. After all, it’s not easy to conquer the world, tame the universe and be all that you can be when you are surrounded by clutter and chaos.

Being disorganised creates unwanted stress. It makes it difficult to concentrate, and it almost guarantees that your schedule won’t run smoothly. When I’m not organised, I’m forgetting things. I’m misplacing things. And I’m almost always moving in high gear because I’m running late. It’s exhausting. All of these things suppress the creative flow and thus, your ability to problem-solve, daydream and get things done. As a result, even the smallest of tasks can become monumental challenges, and by the time you’ve finally muddled your way through, you are no longer operating in that peak state where the really good stuff happens.

How do you fix it? If your organisation skills are lacking, it might be time to find a way to remedy that situation and instil a little order into your life. You may not ever become the poster child for neat and tidy, but even the smallest steps can make a difference. You will be amazed how much you can accomplish when it doesn’t take you three hours just to find a matching pair of socks.

You’re Overwhelmed

In addition to struggling with organisation, I also have a knack for taking on more than I can handle, or, as my mother used to say, “spreading myself too thin”. It’s not that I want to operate at such a high stress level — it’s just that I get excited about new projects and can’t wait to get started.

As a result, I frequently have several projects running simultaneously at any given time, and before I know it I have too much going to really concentrate on any one thing. And if you can’t give something your full attention, it won’t reflect the benefits of all your brilliance. Stay in this state for too long, and you will find that your motivation leaves you completely. You’re no longer just feeling the anxiety that comes from being so “stretched” — you will actually lack the inspiration to tackle even the smallest of tasks and when you do force yourself to take action, it will never be your best work.

How do you fix it? The solution, of course, is to stop and take inventory of where you are. Get your priorities in order and force yourself to work from that list, so that you stay focused and on track. If that feeling of being overwhelmed is due more to the size of your projects rather than the number, then concentrate on breaking those big jobs down into several doable chunks. You should also seriously consider learning how to say “no” or at the very least “later” so that you can manage your time more effectively and avoid that “where do I start?” feeling from creeping in and slowing you down.

You’re Not Following Your “Bliss”

Plain and simple — if you don’t like what you’re doing, you’re not going to thrive while you’re doing it.

Now, we all have times when we “have to do what we have to do”. And that’s perfectly OK. I’ve taken jobs that offered little in the way of personal fulfilment but went a long way in helping us make ends meet and when you’re faced with that kind of situation, well, you do what you have to do. But all too often, we resign ourselves to that goal of “just getting by”. The temporary fix becomes a permanent safety net and we forego our dreams in exchange for predictability and security.

How do you fix it? If you’re spending your time selling insurance, typing memos or installing bath fixtures, and your passion lies somewhere else, you will never feel the satisfaction and fulfilment that you are seeking, which means you need to take steps to figure out what your passion is and then find a way to follow it.

You’re Not Taking Enough Risk

Speaking of safety nets, you will never know what you are capable of if you always insist on playing it safe. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take precautions, and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your research or ask questions or weigh your options. It just means that sometimes you have to take a chance.

How do you fix it? You have to be willing to venture out into the unknown if for no other reason than just to see what is there. Sometimes you have to be willing to assume a little risk because you know the reward is worth it. And if the reward is moving you closer to the life you were really meant to have, well, what could be more worthy than that?

You’re Too Serious

Doctors’ visits are serious. So are taxes and wars and meetings with your boss. Life in general? Not so much. Yes, life can have some pretty sombre moments, but it’s not meant to be lived in such a solemn state all the time.

How do you fix it? Learn to relax. Learn to loosen up. Have some fun and forget about all those serious aspects that are weighing you down, at least for a while. Don’t worry about looking silly, and don’t worry about what the neighbours will think. In fact, if they are thinking anything at all, it’s that they wish they had the time or the energy or the nerve to get out there and have some fun like you.

You Are Stuck in a Rut

Albert Einstein once said that insanity was “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Yet, that’s often exactly what we do. We might dream of new adventures and doing great things, but we cling tightly to the bubble of predictability that we’ve built around us. Our lives become routine — we eat the same meals, wear the same clothes, and continue to perform the same activities, day after day after day. Is it any wonder that we have a hard time creating change?

How do you fix it? Instead, try shaking things up. It doesn’t have to be big — in fact, even the smallest of changes can set some exciting things into motion. Try going into work early if you’re someone who’s usually “just on time,” or turn off the TV and spend that time learning a new skill or trying your hand at a new hobby. If you normally start a job search by mass mailing resumes, try calling first instead. If you scour the want ads for job postings, try just picking out companies you’d like to work for and applying direct. If you normally have cereal for breakfast, try oatmeal or toast. If you consistently go to bed at 9pm, try staying up till 10pm or turning in at 8pm.

No, none of these changes on their own are likely to suddenly bring destiny knocking at your door, but the exercise of changing your routine opens you up to other, potentially more potent changes. The point is, if you’re not where you’d like to be, then try walking a different path to get there.

6 Reasons You’re Not as Happy as You’d Like to Be [Wise Bread]

Kate Luther is a city-girl turned country-girl who traded in the corporate 9 to 5 for a home office and a life as a freelance writer. Read more from her here.