Are you in the right job? Is your career going the right way? Occasionally, we should pause, and ask ourselves some fundamental questions. There is no career question that is more fundamental than this one:
Are you happy to go to work?
It might seem obvious, or even trivial, but I would argue that we don’t ask this question often enough. I can honestly say that I have always enjoyed work – of course, there are days and sometimes weeks when I didn’t, but for most parts I was (and still am) very happy to go to work. Whenever I started to feel less happy at work, I simply looked for a new job that would make me happier. A few years ago, my wife did the same. She felt less happy in her marketing career and within a week started her training to become a teacher – a job she absolutely loves.
We spend too much time and effort at work not to be happy. If we don’t enjoy work, it reduces our overall quality of life and makes us less effective at our job.
Of course, what we consider work and what makes us happy is different for everyone. However, when it comes to happiness at work – like with most things in life – the secret lies in achieving a balance between different things.
Here are my top 6 job attributes that will make us happy to go to work:
1.Sense of Purpose. Do you feel that your job has a purpose you believe in? We all want to be part of something bigger and, if we believe the job we are doing helps to achieve a higher goal, then we will be happier and more engaged.
2.Recognition and Reward. Do you feel appreciated at work? The obvious way to reward people is to pay them. However, money is not enough, we need to feel appreciated and recognized and here, a simple ‘thank you’ goes such a long way.
3.Learning. As human beings, we love learning and developing new skills. Do you have the opportunity to learn something new in your job? Do you get a chance to develop?
4.Sense of Achievement. We all love the sense that we have achieved something. Do you see the fruits of your labor at work? Do you feel that you are productive and good at your job? Feeling a sense of achievement helps to boost our confidence and self-esteem.
5.Autonomy and Control. Do you feel that you are working autonomously and that you are in control of what you are doing? Or, do you constantly feel at the mercy of someone else’s decisions? Autonomy and control allow you to bring your creativity and problem solving skills to the table.
6.Friendship and Companionship. Do you feel a sense of belonging at work, where you work with people you like and get on with? Is there a good atmosphere where people trust each other and friendships flourish?
Try to score each of these (where 0=not there; 1=to some extent there; 2=very much there). This way you can find gaps you could possibly do something about. If not, look for a new job in which you get a higher score. And remember, a high score for money won’t make up for a low score in most other things!
When you are too happy at work:
Here is a little warning: Some people love their work so much that they become workaholics. Often because work gives them a sense of purpose; they feel rewarded and recognized; they learn so much; they get constant sense of achievement, feel in control and have a strong sense of belonging. Always remember that you can be happy at work but miserable in life – especially if you are missing or neglecting essential things, like love, health, family, friendship, etc.
Bernard Marr: The Advanced Performance Institute