What is your goal in life? To be happy? Successful? Rich? Helpful?
And do those goals all apply in a career context?
I love this Venn diagram from twitter, but it was supposedly Confucius who said in a pre twitter age “find a job that you like and you will never work a day in your life…”
So how to reach that elusive, happy goal? At this stage of the school year when everyone is questioning whether half term was a dream and the Christmas hols are still a distant mirage there are a few ways to keep going – and ultimately to keep going forwards – and these can be applied in all career scenarios not just the bed of nails/cushy number – depending on which paper you read – that is school life.
Don’t underestimate the power of camaraderie and we’re all in it together spirit. We all know someone whose company brings us down due to endless negativity, or who makes us feel worthless, anxious or uninspired, and who frankly we should try to avoid, but there is also no denying that a shared moan preferably followed by a joke can raise the spirits. Feeling a commonality is always reassuring especially when the going is tough – and may prevent the tough from going!
I try very hard to savour the small successes and good experiences too. Write them down if it helps, talk about them. Aiming for small victories is more realistic than perfection (and quite honestly I’ve long given up on that one)
Be generous in praising others – a (genuine) pat on the back is always a mood lifter for the patter as well as the pattee!
I like to have something to look forward to – and not just the end of term or your next day off. Planning ahead for some good experiences and not just scheduling yet another meeting or audit helps focus on an attainable target. Sometimes with career progress, setting yourself short term objectives is the way forward, even if it is just to write a blog piece, design a display, attend a networking event, or take that evening class you’ve always fancied. It must be better to be at the bottom of a hill you want to climb rather than at the top of one you don’t?
There are two kinds of career happiness or indeed general happiness; contentment & satisfaction (earning enough to live on, liking the people you work with, feeling that what you do is worthwhile) and delight or even joy (getting a pay rise or promotion, specific praise from your boss, getting good exam results)
When I asked people I worked with What makes you happy? Almost all the replies came within the first area.
Being on the beach – whatever the weather – with my family Seeing my son smile Exercise followed by a sauna
Playing golf & cooking (presumably not at the same time…) Smelling sunshine and fresh cut grass
Driving along the embankment, proper nice sunny morning, high tide, water like a mill pond
We are probably deluding ourselves if we think that we can be happy all the time, but it seems to be those small ordinary celebrations that truly make us happy, both in and out of work. So they need to be savoured and appreciated!
If you want to find out what makes you happy at work, try this quick survey which could help you to pinpoint areas you could develop or even change:
I have felt privileged to be sitting in on mock interviews for some of our would-be medics at school this week. Their certainty and optimism regarding their chosen career is clear; their personal statements a celebration of their achievements to date. Perhaps the discipline of writing a personal statement would be a good step for all of us? What would you be applying for?
So career happiness is attainable, if we can find time to reflect, appreciate and change when necessary. But for those who admit to only one motivation for working, I’ll finish with an old Russian saying:
It’s not money that brings happiness.
It’s lots of money.
Good luck with that…!
Sue Moreton @suemoreton1