Like most people, I’ve got friends from many different walks of life. Executives to professional volunteers, business owners to labor activists, high earners to hourly workers, and everything in between.
I’ve been somewhere in between all that for about twenty years now. In 1994 I had established a footing in full time, “career-path” type work as a entry level field sales guy. At the time I had friends who were on similar starting tracks in the corporate world, some who were starting their own businesses, some heading down other career paths. We had our working life before us, we were hopeful, excited, ready to go.
Fast-forward to present, and we’ve all show different battle scars from our work life. Most people I know have changed companies at least a few times (maybe four is the average), and some have changed career paths (more than once). I have peers who could quit working if they wanted to, and other friends who haven’t saved a dime for retirement. Lots of dough in the bank to no dough in the mattress.
Through all this, a couple of characteristics stand out for me as primary indicators of happiness in work life. They’re rather fluid (maybe even fleeting?), but if you can put them together, chances are you’ll be a happier, healthier person.
The first thing is, determine what your “passion triggers” are, what you really love to do and are (ideally) at least reasonably good at. After all, the better you are at something, the more fun it is. The more you love it, the more committed you’ll be to the practice.
After you’ve got these activities/skills identified, determine how you can engaged in and exercise these traits to ADD VALUE in whatever your job is. This is the second, important key. If you can’t find a way to sync these two things up — your passion and your job — then it’s time to look for a new job.
This approach might sound simplistic or even unrealistic. I maintain though that you might very well be able to find ways to nurture your passion right where you are. Creativity and imagination are required of course, but these factors are up to YOU.
Put these two things together — nurturing your passion and adding value to whatever work you do — and you’ll be happier in your day-to-day, and also healthier. After all, worry and angst in life at work no doubt spill negatively into the rest of our life (think lack of sleep, poor diet, less exercise, strained relationships).
If you’re doing what you love you’re attitude improves and that reflects positively on everyone around you. Add value and your employer will be able to see the difference. Additional compensation is more likely when you’re doing more to help those you work for make better products, deliver better service, improve profitability.
As one of my good friends said a long while back, “It’s less about the title you have than the work you do and the value you bring — that’s how you will be successful.” Hear Hear.