Get happiness out of your work or you’ll never know what happiness is.
If you’re an average person, you work about eight hours a day… about 250 days of the year. That rounds out to 2000 hours a year. And if you stay at your job for 25 years, you’ve put some 50,000 hours into your job. So you’d better enjoy it.
In fact, when you get up in the morning and drive to work, you should periodically ask yourself if you truly enjoy your work. Indeed, if you have to work… and most of us do… is that the place where you want to do it?
For lots of people, the answer would be “no.” In his book, “Where Are We Going So Fast?,” Jim Warda says, “I believe that too many people stay at jobs they hate to get more vacation days… so they can spend more time away from the job they hate.”
What a shame! If you don’t enjoy your work, and if you don’t look for ways to improve your work, you’re a major candidate for rustout. You lose your spirit, and you lose your self-esteem. So you’ve got to find a way to put some happiness into your work.
TV personality Hugh Downs learned that lesson a long time ago. Downs says, “The most creative people I know, and some of the happiest, are those who constantly mix business and pleasure. I struggled with the business of broadcasting for at least a dozen years in dead seriousness. I made neither a name nor any money in it until I started having fun with it. Broadcasting is a demanding business that had driven several colleagues to drink and a premature death. I realized that I wanted to avoid that. I found that I didn’t have to take broadcasting so seriously and began to have fun in it. That’s the way it should be with any trade or profession.”
How can you do that?
=> 1. Learn to like what you do.
As L. P. Smith says, “The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.”
Now I know some jobs are easier to like than others. Life isn’t fair. Some people have jobs that are just plain more exciting than others.
But I also know that you are in complete control of your attitude. No one gave you a bad attitude, and no one can take it away… except you. You and you alone decide whether or not you’re going to like your job.
And the same goes for the problems that go with your job. You’ve got to learn to like them. When I complained about some of the problems that went with my work several years ago, my father said, “Be thankful for your problems. If the problems were less difficult, someone with less ability would have your job.”
=> 2. Define your limits.
Some of you may like your work, but there’s too much of it. Your organization may be seriously understaffed, and your manager may be giving you more tasks than are humanly possible to do. So you seldom get a feeling of completion or satisfaction.
You may need to talk to your boss… without coming across as lazy, demanding, or complaining. You may need to say something like, “I want to call your attention to the problem I’m having of getting the work done on time. Here’s a list of time estimates for my present tasks. These take 140% of the regular work week. So I need to know which tasks get priority. And do you want other people to take over the tasks that are left undone… or should they be put on hold for now?”
You’re asking your boss to face up to hard decisions that are his/her to make. As Muriel Solomon says in “Getting Praised, Rated, and Recognized,” “As long as you remain silent, it appears you find the extra demands difficult but doable. Until you speak up, your boss can’t know the agony you’re going through.”
If you’re lucky, your boss will reshape your job so it’s more manageable.
Now I realize there are job situations where you can’t do #1. You don’t know how to make yourself like your job. And you can’t do #2. You don’t dare to define your limits. Then you need to…
=> 3. Choose your fights carefully.
In other words, pick your battles. Get very clear about the job situations you can live with… and select two or three job areas that are driving you crazy. Focus on them.
You see… there is no perfect job. Every job has drawbacks. You simply have to accept that.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t passively accept those aspects of a job that are destroying you mentally, physically, or emotionally. You should not and can not let your job deaden you mentally, hurt you physically, or drain you emotionally.
If any of those things are happening to you, you may need to get in there, talk to the powers that be, and try to get some change.
Of course, talking to the boss can be risky. I know. I saw a sign in Key West that read, “Tell your boss exactly how you feel, and the truth shall set you free.”
You’ve got to know when to fight and when to shut up. You’ve got to choose your fights carefully. And you do that whenever you pass three tests.
* Your area of job concern is getting in the way of your effectiveness.
* Your area of job concern is worth a fight. And,
* You believe the recipient of your job concern will do something about it.
If your concern passes all three tests, great! Go for it! But if your concern does not pass one or more of the tests, I’d say, “Shut up. Let it go. Don’t get all worked up over something you have to live with or leave behind.”
And that leads to my last tip today. If you can’t do any of the first three things I’ve mentioned, then you may have to…
=> 4. Get out of a job you don’t enjoy.
After all, you should not confuse your career with your life. Your life is more important.
And the quality of your life is deeply dependent on the enjoyment you get out of your job. Dr. George Younte at Harvard says if you don’t love your job, you will have one to three significant health problems that others will never have who enjoy what they do.
Do you enjoy your job? Or do you dislike your job? The answer should be obvious. Just look at the way you talk. Do you find yourself saying such things as, “I love what I do I’m so blessed to have a job I enjoy … or…I’m so lucky to be working here?” Or do you find yourself saying such things as, “Another day, another dollar… and… I’ve just got 6 more years, 3 months, and 2 days and I’m out of here?”
If you’re ever going to find happiness in life, you’ve got to do the first three things I’ve mentioned.
And if you truly cannot do those three things, you’ve got to learn… how to put up with it… and shut up about it. Or you’ve got to look for another job elsewhere. Those are the choices you have.
Action: Look at the 4 tips outlined today. Which one seems to fit you best? Which one do you most need to implement? Write down three things you are going to do to implement that tip.