Even the most successful people need to work to build their dream lives, both in the office and at home. As much as you may love your job, your 9-to-5 duties don’t define you. And conversely, your life shouldn’t be punctuated by a string of happy, fulfilling weekends while you suffer through a job you hate. Instead, your goal should be to craft a work life and a personal life that both bring you joy.
POPSUGAR founder and President Lisa Sugar knows a thing or two about finding that perfect combination of happiness and success; she’s been actively honing this skill for the past 10 years as she leads a successful company, nurtures a happy marriage, and raises a family. Luckily for us, she’s sharing her keen insights in her new book, Power Your Happy: Work Hard, Play Nice, and Build Your Dream Life (available now).
Here, we share seven actionable tips you can use to start building your dream career and life today.
1. Identify what would make you happier at work.
The first step toward a happier work life is recognizing that there’s room for improvement. “Try to identify what it is that you’re struggling with: are you bored, overwhelmed, or feeling stagnant?” Lisa writes. “From there, consider what changes could actually solve the problem.” You can adjust the balance in your current role, you can switch to an entirely new role, or you can take on more responsibility — there is almost always a solution.
2. Get things off your chest — the right way.
Holding in anger or frustration is never a good idea. It’s natural to want to vent to the nearest person, but it may not be the most productive form of release, especially if that person is a co-worker. Instead, reach out to someone on the outside for support, like a friend or your mom, or try writing things out. “Journaling, even if it’s just a few lines each day, can help you recognize patterns about the things that are making you angry,” Lisa says. Her suggestion is to make a productive list of the things that annoy or enrage you at work, then share your frustrations productively with your team to try to find a solution so you don’t end up resentful.
[Related: 29 Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance]
3. Stop feeling guilty about leaving the office on time.
Don’t beat yourself up for packing up and heading out around 5 p.m. Spending time with your family, friends, or significant other on a day-to-day basis should be as important as work itself, and as long as you do your work well and no one is waiting on you, you should be able to leave your desk worry-free.
4. It’s OK to indulge in material things.
“There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to things you love as a reward for your hard work,” Lisa says. This could be a designer handbag, concert tickets, or a luxurious spa day. Spending money on things that make you feel good is not only satisfying, it makes you appreciative of everything you have knowing that you bought it with money you earned.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
Sometimes the smallest details can make the biggest difference in your work flow, but you’ll never know until you ask. “You’d be surprised how much your managers want to keep you happy if they value you and your talents,” Lisa writes. “I always encourage people to speak up if there is a simple change we can make to make their lives easier: letting them work from home one day a week, sending them home early if they are working an award show that weekend, or providing breakfast once a week to everyone at the office.”
6. Prioritize your hobby.
Just because you have a full-time job doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make time for your favorite hobby. Whether you’re working your way to a larger goal or simply doing it for fun, the end result is the same: prioritizing something that makes you a happier and more fulfilled person.
[Related: 8 Things to Consider Before Turning Your Hobby into Your Career]
7. Take a vacation.
Whether it’s two weeks or two days, it’s essential to have time away from work to reset, try new things, and avoid burnout. “Vacation helps clear your head and get you back to a creative, more energetic place,” Lisa says. So don’t forget to take advantage of your PTO days!
This article originally appeared on POPSUGAR and has been reprinted with permission.