Survey Says…Work Can Help You Live Fully

In 2015, Abbott set out to ask a million people what living a full life means to them. Our survey had nearly 2 million responses from all over the world. And to no great surprise, people identified family as the number-one factor for a full life, often by a large margin over the next nearest factor. However, success was also important to people globally – coming in number two overall.
Success can mean a lot of different things to people – everything from concrete goals, like attracting a certain number of followers or achieving early retirement, to intangibles, like feeling you’ve worked as hard as you can and done your best. One way or another, success often can have some link to work – the job you have today or the one you aspire to tomorrow.  And, of course, success is related to family as well – if you succeed at work, you can share that with your loved ones, be a role model, and provide opportunities and stability, helping your family to succeed, too.
Our survey results are great news – because it means we can use our time at work to pursue some of the top factors for a full life. Like many, during the week I spend well over half of my waking hours at my job. I’m glad and grateful for the work I get to do. Every day, I do my part to serve Abbott’s mission – helping people live their best possible lives through better health. It’s an inspiring purpose, and my career is a big part of what makes me feel fulfilled.
Yet, life happens, and not every day feels successful or productive. Cars break down. Reading the morning news is seldom a pick-me-up. You encounter headwinds on a favorite project.
But success isn’t having a perfect day at work every day, it’s a feeling that overlays our working lives. So how do you maintain this feeling even on the days that your Internet goes down, your flight is delayed and you spill coffee on your shirt?
A pleasant surprise in our survey data is that some of the answers to this challenge, and how fulfilled we feel on a day-to-day basis, are well within our control – especially when we asked people what they think helps other people live fully. Two of the top responses around the globe? Attitude and health.
While it’s hard to break down “success” into bite-sized action items, attitude and health can be worked on wherever we are and no matter what we are doing.
So let’s start where many of us spend a lot of time – at work. I’ve made a list of workplace activities we’ve identified to support positive attitudes and good health.
Remind yourself of the big picture to keep a positive attitude
  • Remember your company’s mission, instead of just focusing on the to-do list. When I remind myself that my company is contributing to a healthier world –  helps you see better, keeps your heart healthy, nourishes your body at every stage and brings you information you need to manage your health, wherever you’re going and whatever your goals are – I’m a lot happier handling the tough moments.
  • Put some mantras or inspiring quotations on post-it notes above your screen. One I’ve always liked is from Through the Looking Glass:
“There’s no use in trying,” said Alice. “One can’t believe in impossible things.”
“I dare say you haven’t much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Find ways to pursue health at work
  • If you work at a desk, get a standing desk, or stand when you read or talk on the phone.
  • Put motion into your calendar – even if it’s just two fifteen-minute blocks to walk around your building. Likewise, walk to a colleague’s office instead of emailing.
  • If you are a leader in your organization, make sure you aren’t accidentally undermining someone’s health goals. For example, instead of ordering in doughnuts for the early morning meeting, consider yogurt and fruit. I’ve found some really wonderful nutritious options for meetings – and, of course, we have the benefit of the Zone Perfect, EAS and Curate bars that Abbott makes (shameless product promotion).
Make a good attitude contagious
  • Make sure to say thank you.
  • When you admire someone’s work, tell them so.
  • Ask questions that show your interest.
  • Make it personal. Ask your colleagues about themselves, don’t let it be just work.
  • Look for the “yes, if” instead of the “no.” While not all ideas can be pursued, hearing “no” all the time will wreak havoc with even the most optimistic person. And by committing yourself to “yes, if” you may unlock some new thinking and creativity that “no” would have closed off.
I’ll share additional insights from our survey findings in future posts, as well as on Twitter @ELeavenworth. In the meantime, please share your ideas for supporting good attitudes and health in the workplace in the comments!
Written by:


Elaine Leavenworth

Abbott Chief Marketing and External Affairs Officer

Greater Chicago Area