Is it important to find happiness at work or can work be isolated, made the best of, and in some way be balanced out by happiness in the “non work” part of our lives?
We tend to look at work as a part of life that is separate from “the rest “of our lives.
Terms like “work- life balance”, don’t mix business and pleasure” and even “TGIF” seem to confirm this.
To some people of course their work is their life and to them the satisfaction it brings means they do not have to look elsewhere for happiness.
But for many of us feelings about work can swing from satisfaction through achievement to boring repetition and work can even become a daily trial that can sap energy and vitality from life.
We spend a really large proportion of our lives at work.
So if you often see your work as boring repetition or a daily trial, and the idea of happiness at work being only a dream, it’s time to stand back and try to find out why this may be so.
If you can answer yes to any or all of the above then it IS time to have a look at the “work” part of your life.
You are certainly not alone if you have this feeling of dissatisfaction or lack of happiness at work –
“A Mercer survey of 30,000 workers worldwide, which showed that between 28% and 56% of employees in 17 spots around the globe wanted to leave their jobs.In the U.S., 32% said they wanted to find new work”.
Susan Adams, Forbes - New Survey: Majority of Employees Dissatisfied
So what can you do to improve a feeling of dissatisfaction to one of satisfaction or even happiness at work?
The obvious answer might seem to be –“get a new job” – but this is not always the answer and in these difficult economic times can also be extremely difficult.
The good news is there is not only one thing but at least three you can do to improve the quality of work life!
Take a break- step back and try to see your job as others might see it.
Remember you may be undervaluing your job and your contribution to the organization.
You may feel your work colleagues are difficult and you may have gotten into a habit of negative self talk about your job.
Have a look at the words you might be using about the situation and see if you could turn them around to help break the habit; for example -
Changing your words will help you become more positive about what you do.
Remember you must value what you do and despite what you might think most of the time your work does have value and being more positive will help you find what that value is.
We tend to think about updating or reviewing our resume only when we want to interview for a new job.
But there is another way of looking at this.
When applying for that new job you can be under some pressure and this can lead to seeing the updating of the resume as a task focused solely on the specification of the new job.
So consider updating your resume when you are not under pressure to get a new job.
Stand back and build this resume from your own point of view not from the perspective employer might want to see.
Value all your achievements - really describe them and include everything. Remember this resume is for you not for an employer.
Include what you love doing and those times in your life when you showed talents you may know deep down you have, but have never considered as important for your “career”.
Value you education even if you feel it is not “up to scratch”.
The way education systems are set up does not always bring out the best in people -
“Most students never get to explore the full range of their abilities and interests.
Those students whose minds work differently – and we’re talking about many students here; perhaps even the majority of them - can feel alienated from the whole culture of education.
This is exactly why some of the most successful people you’ll ever meet didn’t do well at school”.
Ken Robinson: "How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything."
Many people have achieved success and happiness at work later in life –
"Susan Jeffers is the author of "Feel the Fear And Do It Anyway" and many other best-selling books. She didn’t begin her writing career until she was well into her forties.
Harriet Doerr, the best-sell author. When she was sixty five she returned to college to get a degree in history. She eventually published her first novel – the National Book Award – winning Stones for Ibarra, in 1983, at the age of seventy- three.
Benjamin Franklin invented the bifocal lens when he was seventy-eight.”
Ken Robinson: "How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything"
So putting together a resume in this way will allow you to see the bigger picture of you and your talents.
Then next time you see a job you might like you will have a broader blueprint of your talents and achievements to discuss more assertively.
An extreme example of how we can sometimes get caught up in our work and loose ourselves in worry and “busyness” and move away from happiness at work is described by David Whyte in his super book about work and life - Crossing the Unknown Sea.
This story never ceases to amaze
Here David describes how after a long time running his successful organization, being lost in his work rushing to meetings, making deadlines and wishing “if only I could go faster” something happened that made him stop and really look on at what he was doing.
“One morning, hurtling from my desk toward the photocopier I passed a roomful of my colleagues just about to start a meeting. There was someone I needed to talk to. I saw immediately that he wasn’t among them, but I put my head in the door before they could begin, and in a very loud, urgent voice, I said ‘Has anyone seen David.’”
Now since he was the only David working under that roof the meeting “quickly dissolved into table- thumping laughter”
“David” after a wide- eyed moment began “to laugh with them. But “Inside I was dying”.
“I was looking for David, all right…. In fact I hadn’t seen him for a very long time... a David who had disappeared under a swampy morass of stress and speed.”
This is an example of how stress at work can literally make us loose contact with who we are.
We can often overreach ourselves to be seen as the efficient/ likable/ tough/ unstoppable /loyal/ brave, employee/ supervisor/ boss when the real person behind all this is lost even to ourselves.
It is easy to point out the “what to do” to help slow things down, “re-see” ourselves and form the basis for happiness at work.
Become the watcher of yourself become aware of how and who you are at work
You can do this through learning :
The “how to do it” requires some time and commitment along with bravery and toughness but this time you can use these qualities not “to be seen” as a certain type of person but to discover what you may have lost – the real you who can achieve happiness at work.