Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tips for Being Happier at Work

Are you happy with your job?

There have been times I've loved my job, but didn't like the company where I worked. Or I liked the job, but thought my boss was a lunatic.

I know people who thought they would love their job once they reached a certain job title, or got the big office or made a certain amount of money. In some cases, these people seemed content once they reached such goals. In other cases, I saw that people were still not happy in their jobs no matter how much money they made or how big the title.

I think part of the problem with our careers is that we often don't stop to think about what makes us happy at work. In our private lives, I think we spend more time considering what makes us happy, whether it's pursuing a hobby or being with our families.

I don't think my parents ever liked their jobs. They used to say "it's a job," meaning that it was a paycheck and a way to put food on the table and save for retirement.

While I think younger workers like to think they are choosing jobs that make them happy, I know from talking to many of them that they've taken jobs because it paid the rent or helped them pay off student loans. Are they happy? Or do they wish they were doing something else?

Does all this mean that no one ever gets a job that makes them happy? No. I have also spoken with people who can't wait to get to work every day, and say they would do the job for free (personally, I doubt this).

But I do believe that many people try to get jobs that are not going to make them happy. They get stuck in companies that they don't like. They find themselves doing work that they don't care about one bit.

The solution, I believe, is to do a more careful assessment of what can make you happy and then assessing the kinds of jobs and companies where you will find that joy. Here are some things to consider:

  • Make a difference. First, let me say that every job makes a difference. While you may believe that being a firefighter or a teacher or a zombie fighter are the only jobs that really matter to the world, you would be wrong. For example, let's take a janitor. Without the janitor helping maintain order and cleanliness in a company, people could be in danger. They could slip in bathrooms that have wet towels on the floor or lose critical information in a pile of trash. The key is that you should be able to identify how your job -- or your company -- makes a difference. That will help increase your sense of satisfaction and happiness. If the janitor works for a medical research company, for example, he's helping even more people because his diligence in keeping areas safe and clean and that will mean that medical researchers will be better able to do life-saving projects.
  • Find common bonds. When interviewing for a job, look around at the employees. Can you see that one worker obviously loves soccer (his cubicle is adorned with soccer memorabilia). If you love soccer, then already this is someone you can connect with on a level beyond just the job. Does the company do fundraisers for the local animal shelter? Is this something you care about? This would be another way to deepen the connections you feel at work. The point is that when you can form more personal connections at work -- even develop new friendships -- you will be happier. 
  • Look inside.  Are you possibly making yourself more miserable than is necessary? What I mean by this is that sometimes we decide we're unhappy in our job, so we start cutting ourselves off from others. We take lunch alone. We stay away from group gatherings. We only communicate when absolutely necessary. Those actions only serve to make you more unhappy, when if  you just opened up a little bit you could find support among your colleagues -- or even the boss who wants you to be more content and engaged.

What are some ways you have found to make yourself happier on the job?

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