In this day and age, being happy at work is vital. More than an income, it’s really important that we harvest something else from it, something that nourishes us. Otherwise we’ll just fade away.
I’m a developer, I like to build things and solve problems. As I work for a university, every day I get the satisfaction of helping people. I help them to achieve their goals in life and build their future. That’s very fulfilling! That being said, I think there is nothing wrong about being a barista, a store cashier, an accountant or a bar attendant… As long as you like it and you see beyond.
For many of us today, the workplace is where we spend most of our life! Working is the second biggest task we do after sleeping! Therefore, it’s important to be sure that we are at the right place when we’re at work. To consider this, you have to go beyond the practicalities. For sure, ergonomic chairs, workplace perks and group insurances can help. These are undeniable nice-to-haves. But I think work, like any human activity, is about feeling like a part of something. Contributing to something positive and bring value.
Given my occupation, I’m a builder, a problem-solver. My father ran his own business as a builder for 30 years. It seems to me that building houses is very similar to developing computer programs. It rises from chaos. From problems getting fixed one-by-one with logic and organization. I couldn’t be a barista (although I have been at a time, but not for long). I would just break the coffee machine there just to get a chance to fix it. I think what I’m trying to say here is: know your value at work and realize the impact it has on people.
Now, all of this is great. But what happens when being happy at work is impossible for you. As in: you don’t like what you do? Life is short enough to get bothered as few as possible with things we don’t like, I think we definitely have to do something about it. I’m not saying you should step in to work tomorrow morning just to say « I quit » to your boss, slamming the door on your way out. But if you are in such a situation where you are not happy at your job, you should definitely take the time to think about it, and think about yourself (consider your current situation in terms of skills, finances, plans…).
In their book « Work Freely: Love Your Job, Love Your Life », authors Nancy Richardson and Rochelle Davidson share their experiences. Both having been former managers wihin big companies, they speak out about facing characteristic challenges in today’s working environments and how they have experimented in order to find actual solutions that would work.
If you’re struggling currently to establish wether of not your job is the right one for you, I would recommend reading this book. I’m sure in-depth feedback from a former corporate executive and a professional coach will really help you to take back control on your career and aspirations. By taking the time to really establish and consider your goals, you could design a career to suit you, then find the right organization.Buy “Work Freely: Love Your Job, Love Your Life” on Amazon
I think there are 2 ways that you can reach that happiness at work. Either you enjoy the interaction you have with people there, this be your colleagues, your customers or whoever you interact with, or a big salary.
During my first year living in London England, I was doing customer service in a startup and the job in itself wasn’t fun at all. But I was so happy to work with these people! Today still I think they were the best people I’ve ever worked with and that company has been my best professional experience so far!
A third factor to consider is the absence of interaction. A certain liberty on the job that allows you to choose the way that you’re going to get the job done. I’ve personally known delivery men (and delivery women) that were very happy with there jobs precisely because of that!
However, when there are no goodies at all, it seems there is not much matter for hesitation. Things could only be better elsewhere! Last July I went for an interview for a contract position with the main university in the city. Things went quite well and later on in August I sat down with my now-former boss and announced to him I would quit my permanent position to join the university. The reason why I did that was a better salary for some part… But also because I wasn’t happy working with these people!
To sum up, when you’re feeling unhappy or anxious going to work, day after day… Something is wrong. And if we acknowledge again that work represents a third of our life, I think we shouldn’t be bothered. Sleep is the second biggest task in our lives, and we actually choose how we want to get that overnight rest (with someone particularly or alone, which kind of mattress…). Because the quality of our sleep is important to us. Work is about the same thing! We should choose what matters to us. I think the value we provide to others and the value we receive from them is what matters. Take one of these out and you will not be happy at work. Moreover if you cannot get it back, it’s definitely time to explore new woods!
PS: The header picture is from a very talented photographer from Michigan called Ben White. I strongly encourage everyone to go and check his work on unsplash.com, great pictures!
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