Golden Goals: Alexander Kjerulf, the Chief Happiness Officer, on staying true to yourself

This is the eighth article in the Golden Goals series of interviews with notable bloggers about their goals, habits and productivity systems.

Alexander Kjerulf hails from Denmark, and since 2003 he has made happiness his living as a speaker, consultant and author. Alex presents, consults and conducts workshops on happiness at work at businesses and conferences all over the world. His previous clients include companies like PriceWaterhouseCoopers, The Danish Ministry of Economics, LEO Pharma, Novo, DaimlerChrysler and IBM. He just finished writing his first book titled Happy Hour is 9 to 5 – How to Love Your Job, Love Your Life and Kick Butt at Work, and gets 100,000 visitors a month on his blog, Chief Happiness Officer.

1) What would you consider your greatest achievement in the last few years? Feel free to add other achievements or goals if you’d like.

There are many achievements. Becoming a well-known speaker on happiness at work here in Denmark. Taking my blog from 2000 readers a month to 100,000. Learning to jump on my snowboard.

But my #1 achievement has been to stay happy through all of this. To have come as far as I have on happiness and fun rather than on grit and determination.

2) What was the key to achieving that success for you? Was there one thing, or were there a number of factors?

Happiness. To stay true to myself, and do what I’ve done by doing what I like to do.

3) What are the essential habits that you’ve formed to help you achieve your goals?

They are:

  1. To know what I like to do. To actually know myself well enough to be able to tell what gives me energy and passion, and what leaves me cold and tired.
  2. To stick to it. If I should do X today, but just don’t feel like it, I don’t do X. Tomorrow I may feel like doing X – and that’s when I’ll do it. And because I feel like it, I’ll do a much better job of it and have a lot more fun.
  3. To have people around me who feel the same way and who give me energy.

4) How often do you think about your goals, review them, and take action on them?

All the time and never.

I don’t have a formal goal-setting or goal-review process. And I also don’t have formal, measurable goals.

What I do have is aspirations. My goal/aspiration/dream is to make millions of people happy at work. To make happiness at work the norm in business, rather than the exception. To make it so ingrained a management and leadership concept that it’s a basic foundation of most management schools. To make it so much a part of our thinking around work that it’s the #1 consideration when people make career choices.

I never sit down and formally review them, but I’m constantly asking myself “Is this me? Is this my contribution? Is this what I want to give to the world?”

5) Describe how you overcome failure, how you pick yourself back up if you are struggling, and how you motivate yourself if your enthusiasm is lagging.

I remind myself that:

  1. It’ll pass. I’ve been down before and have come back every time. It’s not permanent.
  2. It’s not serious. Whenever I lose hope, I know that it’s not because things are particularly bleak at that moment. It’s probably just because I’m getting tired or a passing bad mood. Everyone has bad days :o)
  3. It’s the price for doing anything interesting. If you never lose faith or doubt yourself, your project is probably not very ambitious :o)

6) Could you describe your productivity system and any productivity tips you have for people?

My system is more of a non-system. It’s to notice what I feel like doing on any given day, at any given moment and do that and nothing else.

My #1 productivity tip is that you can only really be productive if you like what you’re doing. So when faced with a task that is no fun, I try to either make it fun or postpone until a time when it is fun. Or pass it on to someone who will like doing it.

Also read: all interviews in the Golden Goals series.

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