Career Happiness: Making the most of the journey
Today I want to talk about happiness.
I can (quite sadly) admit something to you now. This year, 2021, is the first year of my 31 years that I've really stopped and considered how happy I am.
Unfortunately, certainly here in the UK, there is a culture of measuring success in life based on the material items, or "on paper" success.
But success and happiness are different things!
I recently did some really deep reflection work and when I stripped everything right back I realised that at a basic level I wasn't happy. This was quite a shock for me and one that I questioned for some time before finally acknowledging the truth:
I was going through life being OK. "Not UNhappy".
"Fine", if you will.
Whenever we are asked how we are, we will consistently answer fine or OK without really considering it.
Realising there is a part of you that has been going through the motions is quite difficult to admit. Once I'd gone through this process, the only way I can describe it for me is like I was waking up.
Waking up to the potential feelings I could have, if I made the effort to recognise them.
So I thought, if I have recognised this, perhaps I can help others to consider the same things!
I want you to imagine how you behave when you're really happy. Think about who you are with, where you are, the sounds you can hear, the smells you can smell, and whatever has happened to bring you peace in this moment.
Then I want you to imagine a 6 year old child, when they are really really happy. Children exude joy in it's purest form! Imagine them shrieking with glee as they play a particular game, or celebrating at the tiniest thing such as finding out what they're having for tea.
Think of their unwavering confidence as they stride up to you and have absolutely no trouble telling you exactly what they want. Despite lacking in vocabulary somewhat, admit it, there's no mistaking what these little fiends want.
Now compare the two. Stark contrast? Listen, if you're celebrating like a kid with birthday cake then I am thrilled for you!! For some reason, even though I have a wonderfully balanced life, it just wasn't the same for me.
Where does it fall down? We become conditioned to filter out emotions to a level of appropriateness at some point.
Now re-imagine being truly happy, happy as a young child, and try to identify what things would have contributed to this feeling.
This might feel like a strange exercise but it helps to strip everything back and consider what is important to you and what your core values are.
When we think about how this applies to our careers, the problem is it often feels as though being free to feel the feelings of true joy isn't conducive to progressing at work.
We tend to associate progression with more work, more work with more stress, and more stress with a poor work life balance. The truth of it is, some work environments can be toxic despite your best intentions, and can be contributing to an imbalance of overall happiness without you realising.
The key to maintaining career happiness, (and enjoying the journey), is being clear on what you can and cannot control, and approaching every situation and scenario with an open mind.
So, in order to reflect and bring back some happiness to the every day I want you to create 2 lists.
1 list of tasks and responsibilities and scenarios that drain you
1 list of tasks and responsibilities and scenarios that really light you up
Now go back through the list and mark with an asterisk the things you are in control of.
Mark the things you are not in control of with a dot.
Now you've got the information to hand, take a deep breath and decide to let go of the things you can't control.
Make a decision now to invest more energy and focus to the elements that you are in control of, and the ones that really light you up.
By the way, this is an exercise you can do for all areas of your life too! Go in search of happiness in your home life, relationship and health journey.
FULL DISCLOSURE: It takes some reminding as well.
Don't get me wrong, I am committed to my own journey of creating happiness every day, but that doesn't mean I don't have to call myself out on it all the time!! The point is, lasting change isn't created overnight, rather in the small steps we take every day.
I hope this was helpful and I wish you continued happiness in your career journey - stop thinking about the destination and be grateful for the day to day!!
P.S Are you keen to grow in confidence and build yourself a new plan to get ahead in your career, or build your dream life?
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