Make Your Own Happiness at Work | Five Ways
What does it really take to truly find happiness in a career? Although most of us know what makes us happy in our personal lives, transferring that into our professional lives can be a much, much more difficult task. Research shows that today's job seekers believe more strongly than ever that their careers should be fulfilling and meaningful. One study found that over 72% of millennials wouldn't even apply for a role with an organization if they didn't believe in what that company stood for.
Despite this, many workers aren't happy in their chosen careers and a recent survey by Deloitte found that given the chance, 44% of that generation would quit their job to join a new company or do something different within the next two years.
If this sounds familiar and you'd like to change careers or simply gain more satisfaction from your current job, here's what I found about crafting happiness at work.
1. Make Use of Your Strengths and Talents
When choosing a career, either your first or even a new one, we tend to gravitate towards the things we love. It definitely is a lot more realistic to pursue something we are good at or even have the potential to be good at. It's widely known that working in a job that allows you to use your strengths and talents is the best way to reduce stress, increase productivity, and feel happy and fulfilled.
For one study, researchers had 577 volunteers pick one of their signature strengths and use it in a new way for an entire week. After this week, the volunteers reported feeling significantly happier at work and their levels of happiness remained high for a full month after the initial experiment.
Obviously, it is important to realize that loving something and being good at something aren't necessarily the same thing. You might love painting, movies, music, and various other things. If you lack the talent, however, it's unlikely that you'll gain much satisfaction or fulfillment from working in these areas.
2. Look For Work That Challenges You
Although you might think that a low-stress job would make you happier (believe me, I did), having a bit of a challenge or stress can be a good thing. It helps you feel accomplished when you feel something. It gives you a sense of "doing" something. If you have no stress whatsoever, you'll likely become bored with your job and a result, less productive.
Moderate or short-term stress can actually make you feel energized, make you perform batter at work, and just make you feel more satisfied at your job. Going the other way, on the other hand, isn't the greatest option either. High rates of stress at work can be a silent killer.
It's all about finding that golden middle.
3. Find a Supportive Work Environment
If you want to be happy at work, one of the most important things to look for is a work environment that encourages you in many different ways. Of course, you can't and won't become friends with everyone you work with, but a social support at work is less about having a lot of work friends and more about knowing you can count on your colleagues and supervisors for help when you run into difficulties or need feedback.
I know I don't know everything, and sometimes I need help. I have a strong feeling an connection with my coworkers to help me along, just as much as they do with me. As a byproduct of this, most (if not all) of my current and former colleagues have become close friends.
I'm even going to one of my former coworkers wedding this weekend!
Workplace culture is a big part of why I stay or leave jobs. you may remember a couple blog posts ago I wrote how a job can make you physically sick. I was going through that exact problem. The people I worked with, especially my supervisor, really affected my everyday health. When looking for a new job, I made sure that the people that I would be working with would be a good fit for my personality, as well as my work ethic.
4. Look for Ways to Help Others
Just as you can and should count on your colleagues to help you through tough tasks, they should be able to reach out to you for help. Doing this will make your work seem more meaningful and satisfying. This is a big reason why a lot of people choose to be doctors and teachers.
Zookeeprs are another example of this: Although they aren't very highly paid and often perform menial tasks such as scrubbing animal enclosures, they are extremely passionate about what they do because they view it as a way of helping animals. It makes it more meaningful to them.
5. Don't Try Too Hard
Last but certainly not least, don't put too much pressure on yourself...especially if you really are forcing to make your job worthwhile. If this is your main focus, it may become harder to achieve.
An experiment found that when people were asked to read out a statement about the importance of happiness in life before watching a positive film, they felt less happy than those who read after watching the film. Researchers speculate that when being happy feels like an obligation, people will feel worse about themselves if they are unable to feel that way.
In another case, volunteers were told to keep a detailed diary for two weeks. It was found that those who placed more value on happiness being a goal tended to feel lonelier and more disconnected from others.
All in all, these are things that are tried and true for me in my professional career. Every move I've made as been for the better (except for that last job...yikes). So there might be some stumbles along the way, but moving forward and finding success at work using these tips is a great way to feel accomplished and overall more happy at work.