Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: happiness

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to happiness.

20 Simple (and mostly free) Ways to Brighten Someone’s Day

20 Simple (and mostly free) Ways to Brighten Someone's DayWe’ve all had terrible days. We’ve also experienced the slightest gesture from somebody else that turned everything around. How many people do you interact with during your workday? Clients, their employees, other IT contractors, recruiters, the list goes on. Wouldn’t it be great if you were that person who turned around somebody else’s terrible day?

Many IT contractors are fortunate to interact with a variety of people, giving you more opportunities to brighten a day, and it doesn’t have to be grand like buying them lunch or delivering a speech filled with compliments. Many quick actions may seem small but, to the person on the receiving end, they are exactly what they needed to push them back to the bright side.

Consider trying any of these, at least once per day:

  1. Smile
  2. Help a busy colleague
  3. Compliment a teammate on their work
  4. Hold the door for somebody
  5. Bake (or bring donuts) for your client’s office
  6. Wish a nice day to a stranger in the elevator
  7. Lend your umbrella (or keep a spare one on-hand for people who forget)
  8. Ask someone about their children/pet/family
  9. Follow-up on a story they told a few days ago
  10. Fill the kettle in the office kitchen
  11. Introduce yourself to the contractor who’s new to the office
  12. Talk to the staffing agency’s receptionist when you arrive for an interview
  13. Send a hand-written thank you note
  14. Reach out to an old colleague just because
  15. Address someone by their name (studies have proven that a person’s own name is the sweetest sound they’ll here)
  16. Show your appreciation for the little things people do
  17. Invite someone you don’t know well to join you for lunch or drinks
  18. Actually listen when others speak
  19. Let someone get in line ahead of you
  20. Be nice and use your manners (it’s amazing how much these are missed in a busy world)

Doing little things to brighten somebody’s day will not only make them happier, but you’ll feel better about yourself as well. And the added bonus, they will remember you in a positive light, and that could come in very handy during your next job search.

Create Your Own Happiness as an Independent Contractor

Create Your Own Happiness as an Independent ContractorGoing into business for yourself and becoming an IT contractor is a no-brainer for many technology professionals. While some take the leap and quickly realize they were happier as an employee, many others love the flexibility, benefits and challenges that come with the independent contracting lifestyle. Regardless of how you’re employed, happiness is in your control and it goes beyond finding the right job with the right company.

Chris Christoff, co-founder of MonsterInsights, recently wrote an article for Inc. where he highlighted the importance of a positive attitude at work. He references a Harvard Medical School study explaining how the right attitude will keep a steady heart rate, reduce stress, and improve your happiness. And most importantly, he notes it is only you who can change your mindset. Christoff provides 4 tips: Practice Gratitude, Help Your Colleagues, Stop Complaining, and Smile Often.

Of course, a positive attitude will be difficult to keep if you dislike your job. As we’ve noted, independent contracting presents an opportunity for IT pros to build work-life balance and that should lead to more happiness. According to this article on FastCompany and written by John Rampton, though, there are 10 myths to Work-Life Balance that set false expectations, stress out entrepreneurs and set you up for failure, inevitably making you resent your career path:

  1. Myth: It’s actually about achieving balance.
    Truth: There’s no such thing as “balance” but instead, it’s integration or Be fulfilled everywhere.
  2. Myth: Life needs to be compartmentalized.
    Truth: It’s not possible to divide everything evenly. Some days have more work, others have more leisure.
  3. Myth: You can have it all.
    Truth: There are always trade-offs and sometimes you have to give something up to have it better somewhere else.
  4. Myth: Time management is the answer.
    Truth: Don’t trust outdated time management tips that say you can go completely off-grid every night.
  5. Myth: Technology will give you more free time.
    Truth: Technology is an assistant, but you still need to put in effort.
  6. Myth: It’s what employees care about most.
    Truth: Those you work with or manage often prioritize meaningful work over the flexibility of their location and hours.
  7. Myth: The early bird catches the worm.
    Truth: Waking up early doesn’t necessarily lead to productivity. And working late isn’t bad either.
  8. Myth: You never have to work during off-hours.
    Truth: IT contractors especially do not have this luxury. If you need to (or want to) be working, then you work.
  9. Myth: The less you work, the happier you’ll be.
    Truth: “It’s not about how many hours you work or do something you love. It’s about the quality of how you’re spending your time.”
  10. Myth: Everything has to be scheduled.
    Truth: Schedule important tasks but leaving gaps in your schedule opens up for flexibility and spontaneity.

Whatever your role, how do you maintain happiness in your work life? Do you agree with the advice provided in the referenced FastCompany and Inc. articles? As usual, we love your feedback, so please share your comments in the section below.

10 Habits of Happy People

Do you want to be happy? Of course you do! Granted, some days it isn’t possible to get a smile on your face and it’s easier said than done with factors beyond our control. But, there are some actions you can take to make you a happier person in general – that’s according to this video from Practical Psychology.

According to the video, there are 10 habits that separate happy people from less happy people:

  1. Gratefulness
  2. Optimism
  3. Smiling a lot
  4. Having a lot of friends
  5. Weeding out bad friends
  6. Taking frequent breaks
  7. Setting SMART goals
  8. Learning when they’re sad
  9. Taking care of themselves
  10. Helping people

If the list above piques your curiosity, then watch the complete video below for all of the details (and remember to share this with any unhappy friends).

Building Confidence, Competence and Happiness for Success as an IT Contractor

Build Confidence, Competence and Happiness for Success as an IT ContractorThe very nature of IT can be lonely, especially so for someone working independently. As an independent contractor, you generally don’t have any immediate colleagues. Often your clients want to hand over their problems for you to fix and they don’t want to be caught up in technical issues they don’t understand. They’re happy to leave you on your own. Once you start working on projects you may be surrounded by the world of bits, bytes, code and networks, with little to no human interaction.

It’s enough to make you feel like the old Maytag repairman, the loneliest guy in town. Worse than simply being lonely, your confidence, competence, and happiness can suffer if you’re working in a black box with little to no communication and feedback. You need all three of these attributes to win jobs, negotiate rates, and deal with clients. The good news is that you can take proactive steps to enhance each of these.

Keep your confidence high

Practice regular techniques to maintain a high level of confidence and provide motivation.

  • Solicit customer feedback. If you utilize a simple feedback process, most of the time you’ll get thanks and positive comments. This is not only satisfying, but will help you better understand what your clients value. At times you will get negative comments. Think of these as gifts to help you improve. After all, without feedback, no improvement is possible. Address the issues and your next clients will not have these complaints.
  • Set milestones and goals and celebrate achievement. Since you don’t have a boss to give you a pat on the back, be your own cheerleader. Rather than waiting until the end of a major project to give yourself some recognition, do it daily. Be sure to reflect back on what you have accomplished; don’t just grimace at the long to-do list remaining.

Keep your competence high

In order to be confident, you need to be competent.

  • Benchmark within the IT and greater business field not only for specific technology solutions, but also to understand characteristics and practices of the best IT people.
  • Create your own self-assessment. Using the benchmark information and customer feedback, create a self-assessment process that you can use with each project or client for honest reflection on your strengths and weaknesses, what you delivered, and how you could have done things better.
  • Reinvest in yourself by improving in any areas where you have gaps and building new skills. The world of IT changes practically overnight, meaning clients have constantly changing needs. Stay ahead of the curve by carving out some time to become knowledgeable in new technologies in advance.

Be happy

You are spending 40, 50, or more hours each week at your job. Take steps to make work fun and rewarding.


  • Create your own team. If you work independently, you don’t generally have the socialization opportunities that other 9-to-5 business folks have. But you can make them. Take the time and energy to partner with your customer on a personal basis. Participate in networking events. Find a mentor. Put together a team of resources that you can call on for help and reciprocate in turn.
  • Smile. Call center employees are routinely trained to smile while they’re on the phone since customers can hear the pleasantness in their tone of voice. That same effect can work for you in IT, even if you’re the only one who “hears” the smile.
  • Love your work. If you find that the work you do has become tedious, find ways to transition to something that piques your interest. New clients, new technologies, new approaches, and even working in a new setting can make the work itself more enjoyable.
  • Be assertive to meet your rights and needs. Studies have shown that assertiveness at work can help deliver happiness. Although your policy may be that the customer is always right, that doesn’t mean you should let customers walk all over you.

Have difficult clients? Fire them.

Consider this situation. You have a client who:

  • Constantly changes requirements while you are working on his or her project
  • Always demands work to be done on a rush basis, creating disruption to your schedule
  • Asks for a little bit more when you’re approaching the end of the project… and doesn’t understand that a scope change deserves more payment
  • Rarely expresses satisfaction or gratitude
  • Seems to distrust you, even after you’ve worked together multiple times
  • Pays less or takes more time than your other clients

If you do all-in unit costing for this client, including your time for extra bits of communication and changes, you might find that you’re getting a lot less in payment per hour of attention and generating a lot more personal stress compared to any of your other clients.

Of course, your first efforts will be to work with the client through communications and contracting. With tact, process skills, and plenty of patience, you might be able to groom this troublesome client to be as professional as the rest of your customers. However, sometimes this type of client just doesn’t get it… and never will. If that’s the case, you might want to cut your losses. After all, if you get rid of a “bad” client who consumes an inordinate amount of time and causes you stress, you can replace him or her with one or more “good” clients you absolutely love working with.

If you want to fire a client, you will have to be tactful. Let the customer save face to the extent you can without compromising your values or losing significant money. You don’t want to create such hard feelings that your client starts a word-of-mouth campaign to discredit you.

What’s the bottom line?

Until you become the next IT whiz with a success like Apple, Amazon, or Facebook, you’re likely to continue to work largely by yourself and rely on yourself. But that can be quite okay. As the noted author Wayne Dyer said, “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”

Visit Acuity Training’s guide to confidence for specific assertiveness tactics to apply throughout each step of your freelance process.

10 Tips to Improve Your Life

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
CEO at Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on October 25, 2015

Look for the good in others quoteI think the “pursuit of happiness” is a goal for almost everyone.

People think “if only … ” and list things or situations as being the answer to their happiness.  If only I had more money, that person would marry me, I had a house in that neighbourhood; I owned a Porsche; and on and on.

At the same time that we are wishing for changes in our lives that will “fix things”, we are focused on all that is missing in our lives and THAT gets in the way of happiness.

The single biggest cause of unhappiness is focusing on what we don’t have!

Similarly we often focus on what other people in our lives don’t have … and THAT adds to our angst!  My partner is messy, my kids don’t listen, my parents don’t understand me!

So … 10 tips for those who truly want to be happy.

  1. Focus on what you have … not what you don’t have.
  2. Do not be envious of other people.
  3. Make plans and set goals … and improve the things that are meaningful to you.
  4. Celebrate your wins.
  5. Look for the good in the people around you.
  6. Look for the good in your circumstances.
  7. Focus on the things that you can control.
  8. Push yourself … and understand what you are truly capable of achieving.
  9. Don’t look for the easy way.
  10. Give more than you get!

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”  Audrey Hepburn

How to Stay Happy Throughout the Day

Demanding clients, frustrating team members, insufficient resources, dysfunctional equipment — just a few things that can easily take your mood from great to terrible. You have very little control over any of these factors, so don’t let them destroy your day. Instead, take a look at this infographic from Career Savvy and find out how you can quickly turn your workday into 8 positive hours.


Useful Tips for an Independent Contractor (Infographic)

Independent contractors have to be productive in order to succeed and very often have to depend on themselves to spark some motivation.  For some that comes naturally, but for others it can take a bit of creativity to ensure it happens.  This infographic created by Anna Vital of Funders and Founders has a number of unique and useful tips that will help you get up early, start the day, work fast, think faster, and, still keep a simple life.  Is there anything you would add or remove from the list?



You Can Say “No” and Still Be Successful!

You Can Say "No" and Still Be Successful!There’s a lot of advice out there (this blog included) that seems to tell independent contractors what they have to do if they want to be successful. In reality, if you followed all of the advice you receive, you’d be swamped with work and never have a personal life — that’s not the definition of success for many people! Paul Jarvis recently wrote a great article on The Muse around this topic and we wanted to share a few of his key points here:

You have the choice to say yes. You also have the choice to say no if it doesn’t serve your goals. What does this mean?

  • You don’t have to attend that networking event or conference—even if you think your whole industry will be in attendance.
  • You don’t have to accept every project that comes your way. Especially if it’s a client who doesn’t seem like a good fit. Or worse, seems like he or she would be awful.
  • You don’t have to take interviews or calls if you’d rather be in a heads-down work mode.
  • You don’t have to use a social network just because other people use it.

Now, before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about choice versus responsibility. Sometimes we don’t have the choice to stop doing something we don’t like. Rent needs to be paid, food needs to be eaten—and often there are people depending on us. So, we have to drum up meh gigs, or work with difficult clients, or do another completely undesirable job that we’d honestly rather not do. Choice is what we’re talking about now. Specifically, having two options, and picking one over the other simply because someone else told you that’s the way that it is.

Too often, well-meaning experts give us all advice on what we should do and how we should do it—all in the name of getting ahead. Advice is great when you need to learn a new skill for the first time, but the problem is when it comes to running a business, or marketing, or dealing with clients, there are endless ways of going about it.

So, it’s not enough to be blindly led by the advice and best practices of those who’ve made it in your field. There needs to be a further step taken where you ask yourself some tough questions:

  • Do I truly care about this?
  • Does this conflict with my values, personality, or style?
  • Will this make me happy and keep me excited?
  • Is this something I need in my life right now?
  • Why is this important to me?
  • If someone hadn’t given me this advice, is this how I would do it?

Now, if you feel scared or unsure about doing something, don’t just take it off your list and say, “Paul said I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.” Instead, take a moment to consider why that is. If it’s a fear of trying something new or something that could push your limits—that’s a bad reason to not try something. (Typically it’s those things that lead to the most growth.) But if the reason is simply a lack of interest, or that it doesn’t align with your values, or that it won’t further your goals in any way, then you can just say no.

Take control of how you work, so you can enjoy it more. After all, working for yourself isn’t just about the money and success. It’s also about having the ability to craft a life for yourself that you love. Because when you’re your own boss, you don’t just get to pick what you want to do, you also get to take control of how you do it. So take advantage and learn that there’s always a choice.

10 Softer Things to Remember on Contract This Year

Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions for 2015 yet?  If so, did you include any professional goals? While many of us will create objectives to improve technical skills, network, and maybe be a bit more organized, we don’t always remember to improve on the softer side of things.

What do we mean by that? A great contractor knows the technical requirements to do their job and meet their client’s expectations.  What sometimes lack, though, are the softer pieces of knowledge that help exceed client expectations, improve our reputations, and, most importantly, increase our happiness in life.  Here are 10 examples of these softer areas you may want to pay a bit more attention to in 2015:

  1. We spend a lot of time working, so we might as well be proud of what we do.Happy Independent Contractor
  2. We may not be defined by our work but we can take pride in our work, which will affect who we are.
  3. If you have a good attitude you will get ahead, even if that is sometimes hard to foresee.
  4. If you have a lousy attitude people will treat you accordingly and you can expect your opportunities to reflect that.
  5. If you think you are getting away with something you are wrong, it is amazing what people know.
  6. If you think your hard work is not noticed, you are likely wrong too.
  7. Most clients and/or recruiters will give you feedback, good and bad. It is what you do with that feedback that will determine what happens next.
  8. There is always someone worse off than you.
  9. If you go looking for disparities that you believe are unfair, then you will find them and they will make you bitter.
  10. Focusing on doing the best job that you can will bring the best returns in what matters most — self-respect, as well as money!

Knowing how to do your job is important and obviously crucial to winning a contract. If you can also master the steps to be happy with your work and your life, you will achieve much more success this year.  Do you agree?  Can you add to the list above?  Let us know in the comments below.