“Wouldn’t you feel better if the place you spend most of your week was a place where you enjoyed spending your time?”
Have you ever played the “Careers” board game? The object of the game is to estimate how much money (represented by a green dollar sign), fame (represented by a gold star) and happiness (represented by a red heart) you will earn in the course of the game. Different career paths will help you earn different amounts of money, fame and happiness, and achieving various college degrees will increase your salary. There are also events that make you lose money, fame and happiness. The first person to achieve their goals wins. The most successful “Careers” player learns to balance all three areas.
In this month of the valentine, heart symbols and celebrations of love, I’d like to advocate that people try to incorporate into their careers more of the least-recognized value in work; happiness. We expect to love our pets, our children, our partners, our family, our cars, our homes and our vacations, yet too few people believe they can expect to love their jobs. Too many people figure that money will help provide for happiness that can only be found outside of work, and to expect happiness at work is simply naïve. That’s why we’re saving for vacations and retirement, they say, so we can have fun then! Unfortunately, the stress and drudgery of their jobs can make people too worn out to enjoy their vacation or retirement.
Many of my clients in their 40s, 50s, 60s and even 70s who come with the goal of re-careering have already caught onto this idea. They’re done with the money chase and have decided they want their work to have meaning and bring satisfaction and even enjoyment. They are done with demanding schedules, clueless bosses and crazy, backstabbing co-workers that are a common result of a world of work based on money and recognition. Other clients come, discouraged and worn out from physically demanding and/or dysfunctional and abusive workplaces. When I suggest finding their passion, what makes them excited, then finding a way to make a living doing it, I typically meet with two responses; bewildered hope that such a thing could be possible or thrilled enthusiasm.
Loving one’s job, just like loving a partner, child, home or car means you need to nurture and maintain the good things and figure out how to resolve the troublesome ones or whether they are too broken to fix and in need of replacement. Neglecting one’s work culture results in problems as much as neglecting the other things we need to maintain in our lives.
I’ve worked in crazy, spirit and energy devouring places, several which paid more than I make now. I’ve also found employment and currently have a job that is satisfying, personally rewarding and makes me happy. I definitely prefer loving my work over having extra money to spend. Here’s my challenge for those of you who do not like your job or career – or expect to. Wouldn’t you feel better if the place you spend most of your week was a place where you enjoyed spending your time? Think about it. And contact a career counselor if you’d like help finding work you will love. I highly recommend it.
Originally published at SantaFe.com on February 14, 2012