Yes, workplaces are fraught with employee complaints and leadership scandals related to bias, surveillance, divisiveness, inequities, and bullying. Yes, worker “engagement” is too often measured by keyboard clicks, file uploads, and traceable survey completions. The social contract of mutual trust between employer and employed has, perhaps, never been so damaged or at risk.
If these realities distress you, I say, “These are examples of what you don’t want. Now, what’s the experience you do want? You’re the boss of you: What life do you want to experience every day?”
The Live Well Daily Planner
Download your personal copy of the planner—print seven copies, enough to give it a trial run for a week. Follow the steps in this article, then decide: do you feel more in control of your life? Happier? More satisfied? Less agitated? Scientific research says you will.
Be the boss of you: put first things first.
Each morning, before you get in the car or log in to begin work, be the boss of you. Take five minutes to jot down how you will use your personal power that day, your agency, to bring well-being to your work and non-work life.
- Don’t use your keyboard to fill out the form.
- Use paper and an old-fashioned writing instrument.
Handwriting our thoughts develops new thinking. It creates new neural pathways; typing only puts one more task on your already overcrowded plate.
I put the Live Well daily planner to good use every day. Yes, that pic is my real-life planner from yesterday! (Love those completion checkmarks.) Here’s how you can use it, too.
1: Decide what you want—for today.
Keep it simple. Clarity about what you want right now is essential to manifesting it. Focusing on what you don’t want will leave you stuck in a reactive, resources-sapping state.
2: Start with your routine.
Neuroscience demonstrates how having a replicable daily routine that you create that includes a range of activities brings calmness, a sense of certainty, and the optimism necessary for well-being. To get those benefits, it must be a routine that you (not your boss) design and live by.
Take it a day at a time, and soon you’ll discover realistic activity buckets that support your intentions for a good life. In the photo so can see my activity buckets in the “Have a routine” section of the planner: these are simple things, but the routine organizes my day to ensure 24 hours match what I want.
Your routine should not pile more tasks onto your day. It is an organizer for the general sequence you want to follow in doing what matters to you in your work and personal life.
The Live Well planner supports your routine to create fulfillment, enjoyment, and resilience every day.
3: Plan for flow.
Flow is when you are so engrossed in what you’re doing that you forget about the clock. Little else matters; you’re in the zone. You’re stretching your knowledge and capabilities, learning and growing. You might feel tired when you step away from that work, but it’s a good tired. You feel contented, excited, hopeful, and happy.
Research shows those good feelings last, giving you internal resources to perform less-rewarding tasks without diminishing your well-being. So, commit to a task that will put you into flow, even if only for a short while.
4: Accomplish something important to YOU every day, just for you.
Doing something you want, the way you want to do it is essential to your well-being. Choose a different something each day that you don’t get paid to do, aren’t required to do, but completing it that day will bring you satisfaction. When you’ve done it, give yourself a “good job!” mental pat on the back. You might try a new exercise class. Or finish that book on your bedside table. If nothing else, plan to tick off the checkmarks on your planner! (smile)
5: Nurture relationships.
The Live Well daily planner is grounded in Seligman’s 30+ years of research on well-being. He says relationships are so critical to psychological well-being that good ones correlate with our sense of accomplishment, positive emotions, meaning in life, and engagement in our work.
A great way to nurture relationships is to do an unexpected kind thing. Plan for it so your intention doesn’t succumb to a crazy workday. Call a friend (yes, use the phone even if it goes to voicemail) so they can hear the genuine care in your voice. Ask what’s going on in their lives. Or invite them to lunch and give them the gift of listening. Demonstrating empathy is the key.
6: Show gratitude.
It’s not enough to feel gratitude that no one else can see. Enhance your gratitude by showing it: Every day, convey your appreciation to another person through words and actions. Send someone a thank you note telling them, “You did this on my behalf, for me; here is how much it meant. Thank you.”
7: Serve something bigger.
Each day, choose to do something that will benefit someone else, even if it doesn’t help you. Research shows how acts of altruism significantly correlate with increased happiness and health.
8: Live by your character strengths.
Focus on one of your top-five character strengths as your north star for each day. You’ll experience increased self-worth, self-confidence, and rekindled passion for life.
9: Care for your health.
When wise people tell me something, I listen up and adapt. Seligman told me a few years ago that he sees an evolution of his PERMA model to PERMA-H: H for health. So, I adapt. Each day I decide: How will I move my body, attend to good nutrition, and get enough sleep? It’s not rocket science, is it? But these things require intentionality and time.
When you’re the boss, doing these things gives you
more energy to help others live well, too.
Whether you use it or not, I’m grateful because, just by reading, you’ve helped me serve something bigger today. Thank you.