Success at Work Challenge Week 7: Pursue Pleasure

6112684438_0cacbb0cf3_mI’m trying to achieve success at work, and you can too! This is the last week of the Success At Work challenge, in which I’ve been encouraging readers to try each of the seven disciplines listed in my ebook, What the Most Successful People Do at Work. You can find links to the previous weeks at the end of this post.

When are you happiest at work?

One of the upsides of studying how I spend my time is that I’ve been able to take a good look at this question. A proxy for happiness is focus. When I go hours without checking my email, without jumping up to see if anything excited has appeared in the refrigerator, that’s a good indication that I’m absorbed in what I’m doing.

Looking at my time logs, I can see that this happens when I’ve got a rough draft of a piece I’m excited about, and I’m doing the kind of editing that’s clearly making things better. I’m playing with the words. I’m trying different sentence lengths to see what works. I can see progress!

Unfortunately, as I look at my logs, I see that I’m not spending as much time in this state as I’d like. Part of this is practical. I (mostly) write non-fiction, which often involves interviewing people. I have to schedule phone calls or meetings with these people. I have to do research. Then I need to write those rough drafts that I can later shape. All of this is time that doesn’t have the flow feel to it that my happy word sculpting does.

But some of it, I realize, is choice. I write short pieces that aren’t that exciting to me. I get distracted by the easy shallows of email and web surfing, rather than committing that same time to deeper work. I know the deeper work will make me happier. And yet I fail to seize that time.

And so, I’m working on this pursuit of pleasure. That’s one reason I’m going on a mini writing retreat this week (for roughly 4 hours a day, and to the library, rather than Provence, but hey). I really do think work should be fun, at least for much of the time. And this isn’t a fuzzy find-your-passion graduation speech sentiment. I believe that you can probably make the job you have into something resembling the job you want if you’re entrepreneurial and patient. And if not? There are lots of jobs out there. There’s no bonus virtue gained by spending 40 (or more) hours per week doing something you just tolerate.

How do you pursue pleasure at work?

This week’s challenge: Make note of when you’re happiest and most absorbed in your work. What are you doing? What could you change to spend more of your work hours on that?

Success at Work Challenge Week 1: Mind Your Hours

Success at Work Challenge Week 2: Plan

Success at Work Challenge Week 3: Make Success Possible

Success at Work Challenge Week 4: Know What is Work

Success at Work Challenge Week 5: Practice, Practice, Practice

Success at Work Challenge Week 6: Pay In

Photo courtesy flickr user Dancing Tuna



3 Responses to Success at Work Challenge Week 7: Pursue Pleasure


  1. It is important to take breaks as well– lengthy manic writing leads to very long unproductive spells after. There’s a balance. Again, there’s interesting research on this type of work by Boice and by Csikszentmihalyi.

  2. Tricia says:

    This is so true; I’ve worked at the same company for 12 years. Over that time the industry has changed, my interests have changed and my life has changed. Every so often I’ve been able to change my job so it stays fresh to me while still being valuable to the firm.

    • Laura says:

      @Tricia – nice job turning the job you have into the job you want! Never easy, but so worth it.