IT work is hard. Being happy isn’t complicated, but it is hard, too.
IT people oftentimes carry the stigma of being grumpy. I can be a stereotype, but sometimes that label is earned.
And I get it. Technology work is challenging. If everything works, it’s thankless. If something breaks, end-users can gripe and wonder if you do anything at all. Couple that with some difficult users, tight budgets, and looming deadlines, and you have a recipe for a grump!
Be happy instead! You should care about being happy because it feels ood, but it also helps improve your health, relationships, and your productivity. When you’re happy, people want to work with you, which makes you more employable and can lead to more chances to be promoted.
Having trouble with that? Never fear! I like you and I want to help. Here are 5 ways you can be a happier IT person, starting right now.
Decide to be happy
In order for the rest of the steps to work, you have to figure this one out:
Happiness is a decision.
That’s right. You can (and must) decide if you will be happy or sad. It’s 100% up to you.
As easy as it is to blame others, you must accept the fact that you can’t control other people. You can, however, control you and how you will respond to them.
If you want to be happier, you need to decide that you want it for yourself. As author Stephen R. Covey wrote,
“Each of us guard a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside.”
In other words, I can’t make you want to be happy- you have to choose it for yourself. But you can!
Bad things happen to all of us. Maybe you’re asking, “How can I be happy when $bad_thing has happened? Won’t I just be pretending?”
Do I mean you should be fake? No. You have to be honest and true, but you have vast control over your mental state regardless of your situation. I know it sounds like a platitude, but maybe try to ask “What does this make possible?”, like Michael Hyatt did here.
Go shoot a Nerf gun at someone
-or something. What I mean here is to play. Cut loose and have a little fun.
Play is amazingly powerful. For some crazy reason, grown-ups get taught that playing is for kids. Empirical information shows that play is actually a very good thing to do. It stimulates creativity, lowers stress, and helps teams bond.
As I write this, we are at the end of the year and in the midst of some very challenging projects. On top of that, my IT team is still understaffed. A few days ago, I felt myself (and others) getting a little stiff and tired.
So I did what every mature, responsible IT person does. I got an arsenal of Nerf guns from my house and handed them out to my team. We’ve been having an awesome time shooting at each other (with ground rules- no shooting in the face or “nether regions”). It really cuts the tension and gets us laughing.
Don’t feel like pelting your friends with foam darts? Toss around a football outside. Take a walk. Bring in some Lego for your desk. Any kind of play will help you feel happier.
Put yourself in their shoes
First, let me just say- I get it- I’ve worked plenty of front-line support, including support to the general public. I know what it’s like.
Is someone being a jerk to you over a broken printer, some jacked up code, or a website unreachable? Using empathy can help.
Empathy is not the same as sympathy. Empathy is showing understanding for someone in a bad spot. Sympathy is dropping into the hole with the person and feeling bad, too. You can acknowledge their feelings without indulging them.
Looking at the situation from another person’s perspective can make a big difference, and can even diffuse your own anger.
Don’t internalize failures
Sometimes you break the server and sometimes it’s someone else. When you do break it, realize that you are going to make mistakes. Everyone does. Mistakes and failures don’t make you a bad person or incompetent. They just happen.
How you deal with these things makes all the difference. If you internalize mistakes and failures, you beat yourself up. I know- this is a struggle I’ve mostly gotten over, but I still fall into.
Take mess-ups as a learning opportunity.
- Acknowledge it, verbally or to yourself, depending on the impact. Own it. “I messed this thing up.”
- Use it. Say, “What lesson can I learn from this?”
- Forgive yourself and move on. Say, “I’m wiser now than I was then.”
You can do it.
Seek out a happy technician
It’s likely that you work with someone who has the happiness thing figured out. The cool thing about happy IT people is that (we) they generally want to help others be happy, too. The more the merrier!
Go talk to that IT guy (or girl) who has it figured out. They can probably help you feel better and can likely give you tips on how they dealt with a similar situation or user.
Look at funny cat pictures
Have you tried everything above and you still need a little lift? Use these:
Funny cat pictures on Google Images.
IT work can be stressful. Only you can decide, then use these tips to be happier as an IT worker.
Really quick- Since you’re an IT person, you probably know someone who could use these tips. Can you please use the sharing icons to share them on your favorite social media- make sure you tag them- or email them if you don’t feel like calling them out :)! The more you share this, the more people we can reach to help!
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