This topic is one of the most heavily researched and published in the business literature. How do we know if we are happy in our job, our daily life at work? Do we feel that we are being rewarded to the extent that we should be? Of course rewards are in the eye of the beholder. For some it is an increase in salary, for some it is the satisfaction of being told that they are doing a good job in their work, and for some it is the opportunity to move up in the company. But, happiness in our occupational life is also akin to job satisfaction. Are we satisfied that what we are doing is worthwhile? Does it involve helping others? Is it benefiting others? Does it make me feel happy? Does it make me feel satisfied that I am doing something that is a benefit to others?
I like the thoughts of Tracey Woodward, CEO of Aromatherapy Associates. She said, “I think that happiness is something we are all born with, and that, over time, it fades as we get caught up in the minutiae of life. A lot of people are told who and what they should be (in their adult life), and then one morning after a few years they wake up and realize they’re not happy.”
She lists 14 ways to be happy (or satisfied) in our work and stay loving what we do. Here are a few, somewhat paraphrased:
▪ Try to stay focused on the present. One absolutely must have a plan in business and in life. But, if you look too far ahead, one can lose the benefits of living in the present. Living and worrying about the future is a lonely place.
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▪ Remember that procrastination is the thief of time. Never waste an opportunity to make something better, something good, or something great happen!
▪ Keep a shopping list of your personal dreams and aspirations.
▪ Make your goals realistic. Otherwise they may find a way of beating you up.
▪ Be comfortable with anxiety and fear. Most of the things you worry about will never happen. Acknowledge them and keep moving forward.
▪ Accept that you are not always right.
▪ Look in the mirror every morning and tell yourself that you love what you do. The moment you cannot admit that to yourself, it is time to find the courage to change your path.
▪ As my mother always said, “If you think you can you will, and if you believe you can’t, you won’t.”
▪ Inspire others.
Being happy in our occupational life requires that we are content with what we are doing. Are we accomplishing what we intended when we began our professional/occupational life? We ask ourself — Is what I am doing important? Is it helping others? Are there others where I work who I feel close to, who I trust, who I respect, who respect me? Is where I am working a nice place to be? Is my job secure? Those are questions that we ask ourself that help us to determine the worth of what we are doing, and, in turn, help to determine whether we are satisfied with our chosen field of work, whether we are being rewarded to the extent that we feel we should be, and in the end, whether we are happy doing what we do each day.
In other words, according to a report from Villanova University, finding happiness and satisfaction in our occupational life can depend on the following:
▪ Respectful treatment at one’s place of employment.
▪ Trust between the employee and senior management.
▪ Honest communication and transparency by senior management.
According to the Villanova report cited above, it doesn’t take a great deal of effort by employers to increase job satisfaction. Employees simply want to feel respect and trust, earn adequate pay and have opportunities to advance within their place of employment. If those are delivered, employee satisfaction will increase along with a stronger, more stable and profitable future for that organization.
Ray H. Hull is a professor of communication sciences and disorders at Wichita State University. His latest book, with Jim Stovall, is “The Art of Learning and Self-Development: Your Competitive Edge.”
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