Your personal life is up to you, unless you are my husband – then it is up to me. For the rest, ask yourselves the following when it comes to getting out of bed and going to work each day:
What makes your world spin?
What floats your boat?
What is the air you breathe? and
What lights your fire?
Happiness at work is crucial because work is something people spend most of their lives doing. I have seen many cultures and work ethics, some work 40 hours a week with 6 weeks of vacation per year, some work 60+ hours a week with only 2 weeks off per year. You may fall into one of these categories or somewhere between. Let’s face it, examining even the lightest work schedule; if that person is supporting him/herself (and often a family) the hours spent working far exceeds the time spent doing anything else. I have worked the service industry since age sixteen and to add those hours up (gulp – thirty years’ worth) would be overwhelming.
Something I focus on when working with a team is to increase their passion for their career path. It is the most important gift I can give; my goal is to help workers to have more dedication in the workplace. If people are self-motivated and fulfilled, the manager can walk away and trust everyone to do their best.
Hopefully the questions below are fun for you to answer – if not, they might just be the kick in the backside to move you into something else.
What makes your world spin? That one is easy – MONEY! As the song goes, “Money makes the world go ‘round.” No one wants to feel taken advantage of. You need to be paid what you think is fair, though be realistic.
Example: I help companies make extra hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, but there are companies who do not want to pay my fee. They try to bargain me down, though I always say no. I know what I am worth; doing my job for less leads to resentment, so I walk away from any soul-sucking business.
Conversely, if you hate what you do for a living, beware: No amount of money paid will ever make you happy.
What floats your boat? You work for money but there is more to it than that. Imagine a toy boat floating on the water in a bathtub: It stays buoyant, but when a little wave approaches it lifts for a moment. Those little lifts can represent another part of job satisfaction. From basic workers to CEO’s – all like to be recognized for a job well done. We work for money but relationships and work environment matter too. As the job responsibilities increase, the proverbial boat gets bigger and so do the waves. I stay afloat because people cheer me on and fill in the gaps of confidence when I struggle.
What is the air you breathe? You were taught to have morals and beliefs. If your work goes against these principles, you will be miserable. Sometimes it is extreme, (you hate smoking but work for a tobacco company,) or sometimes it is more subtle. What you spend your time doing (at work) must agree with your soul.
Example: In my classes I talk about how employees affect the client. If a participant says that he/she “hates the clientele here, they are rich, spoiled and deserve what they get” or “wishes the job did not require customer interactions” I know they are in the wrong place. Like a drowning mammal or a fish out of water, that employee can only pretend to function for a limited amount of time.
What lights your fire? This is the key to lasting career happiness. Similar to core principles, but it has to go farther to be sustainable. What creates a spark of excitement and energy at your job? What makes you feel vital (more than money or recognition)? Is your job (or your eventual career goal) so fulfilling that if you were rich, you would do it for free? That is the difference between people who are inspired vs. those who simply survive each day.
To find your ‘spark,’ try this:
Ask yourself honestly, “When I am dead, I want to be remembered as a good ____?” and fill in the blank. Be more specific than ‘person’ since we all hope for that. What is a good person in your mind – can you list their qualities? From the list, is there any one item that appeals to you?
Example: “When I am dead, I hope people will remember me as a good teacher.” That is my honest answer. I don’t need to teach all the time, but I am happiest is when I see someone understand what they learn from me and apply it to their life. When someone says, “You made me look at my job in a different way.” That is my purpose and my passion.