Five Quick Ways to become a Happier Proposal Professional

Happiness may be overrated, but the marketplace is flooded with books, articles, and scholarly studies on how to be happier. We are, after all, a country dedicated to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

It may be particularly challenging for proposal professionals to pursue and achieve happiness, for our jobs are stressful, deadline-driven, sometimes involve nights and weekends, and often and unfairly we are only considered as successful as our last proposal submission.

Much of the popular advice about achieving happiness strikes me as remarkably superficial. Nonetheless, there is a solid body of evidence about how we might help ourselves to become a little happier, on and off work. Below are my five recommendations, inspired by a piece by Jeff Haden on “Want to Be Much Happier?”:

Learn a new skill. Even though it may be stressful in the short-run, learning a new skill as a proposal professional will increase your competency, sense of efficacy, and your sense of autonomy, all conducive to happiness.

Make new friends at work. Much of our happiness depends on the amount of social capital we build. Increase the number of your friends at work and you will increase the likelihood that you will be happier.

Say “no” more frequently. Many of us are overworked and overstressed because we say “yes” too often. As Warren Buffett once noted, “the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”

Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. This approach was developed by the Stoics, an influential school of philosophy that flourished in the Greco-Roman world. The Stoics believed that in every important situation, we should visualize the worst that could occur. When it did not, we should consider ourselves fortunate and our fears exaggerated.

Renounce your favorite things, at least for a few days. Renounce a few of your favorite things for a short time – your television, cell phone, or car, for example – and you should feel more grateful for whatever you have, including your job as a proposal professional. Compared to most people in the world, you are very fortunate. You need to understand that.

I am sure that you can come up with further ways to increase your happiness as a proposal professional. But please remember what the research tells us about happiness: directly pursuing happiness is not likely to succeed. Instead, make small but significant behavioral changes in your life, and you are likely to become happier.

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