10 Ways to Be More Productive and Find Greater Satisfaction at Work and in Life

Rick Capozzi | 02/6/18

I’ve been in the wealth management business for over 30 years. I’ve seen my fair share of successes and failures, including my own. I have witnessed the many ways that people achieve success, and defining success on your own terms is key. Without the sense of satisfaction that comes from meaningful and purposeful work, you can expect average results at best. The following are 10 key principles that can amplify your productivity and satisfaction—and ultimately your success—in the workplace and life.

1. Focus on what you can control. We can’t control the market or the consequences of past decisions. We can’t control or change the people on our teams. We can’t force someone to be more passionate or motivated if they choose not to be. Organizations make changes all the time. You may not agree with some decisions. Some decisions may rile you up. But, spending precious time on things that you have no control over is not only counterproductive but, more importantly, it wastes your life. We often convince ourselves that we can control situations or change people’s behavior, but, at the end of the day, we really can’t. We can only control how we respond to what happens to us and to what people say. Relying on others that we can’t influence for our success is like trying to push a car uphill. Recognizing what you can control, what you can’t control, and what you can influence sets you apart because the mental energy that is being wasted on things outside of your control can now be used to help you be more creative and more productive, bringing you greater satisfaction. Ultimately, if we learn to simply let go of the things we can’t control, we gain more power, freedom, capacity, and choice—and we reduce our stress.

2. Create a compelling purposeWhy do you get out of bed every day? What are you hoping to achieve? Do you have a clear vision of what you would like your life to look like in two years, five years, 10 years, etc.? Ask yourself whether you are living your life or just existing. Are you on the proverbial treadmill? Over the years, I have found that having a purpose when it comes to work (or anything else for that matter) creates the energy that keeps people focused on their goals. Purpose or vision is that determination that allows us to stay razor-focused on our objectives. Create a purpose for your division or group. Ask yourself: What does success look like? What do I want the company culture to be? What do I want clients to say about me and the business? The stronger your purpose is, the stronger your motivation will be to reach your goals. Purpose or vision is an individual act of creation. It’s personal. Try not to fall into the trap of living someone else’s purpose.

Over the years, I have found that having a purpose when it comes to work (or anything else for that matter) creates the energy that keeps people focused on their goals.

3. Employ resilience when life gets difficult. Sometimes life is just not fair. Let’s face it; we will fail or make mistakes more than we succeed in life. Getting hit with unexpected bad news can set you back or derail you from your goals. Resilience is the only thing that will help you rise from the valleys that life sometimes drops you into. Climbing out of a valley and to the top of a mountain takes perseverance and resilience. Sometimes, no matter how hard you work, it may feel like you are sliding back down the mountain. It’s important to accept those setbacks and keep moving forward with your purpose in mind. We all get knocked down once in a while, but as we fight to achieve our goals, those battle scars that we’ve accumulated along the way can feel that much sweeter once we are victorious. Once we learn to accept that life in general is a marathon rather than a sprint, we begin to walk a little lighter.

4. Manage your expectations. Our expectations for how things should be can often make us unproductive and unhappy, especially when things don’t turn out exactly like we thought they would. Some people have expectations of the way life should be at every turn. They fight the laws of nature. It’s like trying to beat a river into submission. Trying very hard to paddle up river is a waste of energy. See the world as it is, not as the way you think it should be, especially when it comes to business. Many businesses in the financial industry often talk about the client experience and how to exceed client expectations. It’s vital that you create the right expectations from the onset with your clients, fellow employees, and most importantly, with yourself. I’m convinced that people who are not satisfied with themselves are often those people who are unwilling to lower or change their expectations or change their circumstances.

5. Avoid getting too comfortable. We are currently living amidst a technological revolution, and because of this, your “cheese” will be moved often. The rate of change is increasing rapidly. You can choose to evolve, or you can choose to stay where you are and watch yourself become less relevant in the business world. The magic of life tends to happen outside of our comfort zones. It starts with curiosity and the desire to never stop learning and never stop doing things differently. We typically don’t step into unknowable realms because we are afraid that we will fail. I see many people working in poor organizational cultures because the firm rewards self-preservation; it rewards people that don’t take personal risks. However, it’s key to remember that we will always be incredibly imperfect, no matter how perfect we try to be. Look for opportunities to take more risks. Be willing to embrace and learn from the mistakes you will likely make along the way. You may be surprised at how empowering and rewarding it is to grow and evolve beyond your comfort zone.

You only have so much real estate in your head, and every time you drift and worry about the unknown, you are letting worry occupy good real estate without paying rent.

6. Spend more time doing, less time worrying. Every moment spent worrying is a moment you steal from your life. If you spend more time doing, you have less time to worry. I have had my share of close friends diagnosed with cancer over the past several years. Yes, of course they worry, but they are incredibly positive and resilient, and they don’t give up the fight. They know that life is a gift, and wasting time worrying is a bit like surrendering to the beast. I find that 85% of the things that I worry about never happen. Constantly worrying about the future, money, career, or family depletes each new day of its strength. Worrying takes as much energy as taking action, and it pays less. Ultimately, worrying will never change the outcome. You only have so much real estate in your head, and every time you drift and worry about the unknown, you are letting worry occupy good real estate without paying rent.

7. Choose humility whenever possible. Success can easily get to our heads. Humility is such a wonderful quality when it’s genuine. Most people don’t care about how much power, money, or fancy titles you accumulate over your career. Don’t get me wrong; being recognized for your achievements feels good, but if the idea of your own success occupies your every thought, you will likely miss out on some extraordinary experiences. Humility allows us to be open to new ideas, it encourages constant learning, and it allows us to see others for who they are with the unique qualities that they bring to the table. Next time that you think you are a rock star or the center of the universe, ask yourself these two questions: “Who helped you get to where you are?” and “Did you encounter some good luck along the way?” Those with humility will likely say, “I was lucky, and I had great mentors.” Arrogance is around us, but we can rise above those people. Leaders with humility value respect, kindness, compassion, and collaboration.

Next time someone tells you how busy they are, believe them, but realize that they may be busy and not necessarily productive.

8. Being busy doesn’t always equate to being productive. How much time do you spend doing things that aren’t really adding much to your life or contributing to your purpose or goals? How much of your energy goes toward tasks or activities that won’t help you grow and evolve? At the end of the day, do you feel accomplished? Do you feel that you spent your day in the best way that you could? Being busy with meaningless and unfulfilling tasks doesn’t allow space for those meaningful moments and experiences to occur. Leverage technology to do your business work and outsource whenever possible. Focus on what really matters to you, and let go of all the noise and all of the distractions. This is especially true when it comes to technology. Our smartphones seem to be hijacking our brains every moment. We’ve become afraid of being left out or missing out on the latest sensation. We seek instant gratification. But, does this time spent add value to our lives? Next time someone tells you how busy they are, believe them, but realize that they may be busy and not necessarily productive.

9. Simplify your life. Slow down. It’s time to stop trying to win the “more” game. Money is like sea water; the more we drink, the thirstier we get. We want more and more of it to buy more and more things. Someone once said that money has a diminishing return. More stuff usually doesn’t make us happier in the long run. In fact, we often need far less than we think we do. Life can become much more satisfying when we declutter and simplify. Simple is in. When making that presentation or discovery meeting or when you are trying to negotiate for your next promotion, keep it simple. It’s a fact that communicating clearly and simply is much more persuasive. Countless times a day the advertising industry tries to influence us to buy something we don’t need. We don’t need more gadgets to hide behind. We need to be more human again. Ask people to tell you their story, and really listen to what they have to say. By simplifying our lives both professionally and personally, we become more focused and more productive on the things that matter most. More importantly, we have more space to make greater contributions to our work, to our families, and to our communities. Slow down and listen to your clients, your friends, and your family.

10. Take responsibility for the outcome you desire. The 2018 Winter Olympics will begin in early February in South Korea. We can assume that every athlete who participates wants to win a medal, but the reality is that most will not win. If an athlete doesn’t come home with a medal, does that mean they have not been successful? In my view, the true definition of success is knowing that you did your very best, knowing that you gave it your all, and knowing that you took responsibility for trying to reach your goal. When you don’t achieve the outcome you desire, you may need to change your strategy, your tactics, or even your attitude, but all of that begins by being willing to take responsibility for the outcome you desire. Avoid blaming others or circumstances when you don’t achieve your desired outcome. Doing that makes you a victim. Fight for what you want, and keep fighting. As you tackle each new opportunity, approach it without losing any enthusiasm and energy. The more we venture out and try something new, the more failures we’ll have—but that is ultimately what makes us winners. Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, said it best: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part; the important thing in life is not triumph, but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” Enjoy the games.

For more strategies on how to win in Business and in Life, check out The Growth Mindset on Amazon.

Rick Capozzi is a highly regarded industry leader in financial services, author, and former National Sales Manager at Morgan Stanley. Rick’s notable 30-year track record of success spans across several channels, including private banking and trust, wealth management, and Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). Holding senior leadership positions with the world’s largest organizations, including TD Private Bank, Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo and UBS, Rick’s track record speaks for itself. As Regional President at Wells with over $30 billion in AUM and Regional Director at Morgan Stanley with over $35 billion in AUM, Rick led both regions from nearly last to first in the country by applying his sound principles, proven strategies and actionable tactics.

Rick is currently president of Capozzi Advisory Group, LLC, a boutique consulting and training firm. He is quietly opening his playbook to bring real-world experience and deep industry knowledge by offering managers and advisors proven winning strategies and solutions to achieve sustainable growth. Check out his book, The Growth Mindset, now available on Amazon.


“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”