Archive for June, 2009

Love What You Do!

June 30, 2009

Last weekend, my daughter Hannah and I watched the movie Night At The Museum: Battle At The Smithsonian. In the movie, the museum exhibits – people and creatures – come alive each night only to return to their inanimate forms when the sun rises. Ben Stiller’s character was the former night watchman at the museum. One night, while talking to Teddy Roosevelt, he answers his Blackberry just before the former president discloses the one key to happiness. Teddy returns to returns to silence, never uttering the key.
Ultimately, Stiller’s character discovers for himself the key to happiness: doing what you love. He sells his company and returns to his job as night watchman. Hollywood cliché? Perhaps. Yet, during all my years in business – as an attorney, financial advisor, training director and human resource director – I found success and happiness are largely intertwined. Happy people are excited and energized by their work, eager to grow and achieve. They don’t complain or let setbacks derail them.
Are you doing what you love? Are you passionate, enthusiastic and keyed up about your job and career? Does your energy electrify others? By matching your personality and skills to a job you can help to ensure career happiness. These factors and questions will assist in clarifying your current job satisfaction.
1. Fit. Everyone is different, and each of us must find a career/job that fits our personality. Career happiness is very individual, and unique to each person. For example, most sales people would not be happy being engineers and vice versa, since the personalities of the positions are so different. Also, needs change over time. A young parent may desire more flexibility than when they are an empty nester. Does your job, your roles and responsibilities and organizational culture fit your personality and preferences? Are you in the right environment? Do you have the level of security and certainty you require?
2. Goals. Clearly defined goals that stretch a person stimulate feelings of accomplish. Do you have stretch goals that you can check off when they are achieved?
3. Control. Most people require a sense of control of their lives and work. This can manifest itself in different ways. Some people want the autonomy to make decisions and others want a highly structured environment. Do you feel that you are in control and empowered?
4. Meaning. People want to feel that they are part of something larger than themselves. Do you have a sense of purpose in your career and know how you fit into the larger picture of your organization?
5. Relationships. People need strong relationships at work with both peers and managers. Do you have a best friend at work? Are you part of a team? Does your manager respect you?
Unlike Ben Stiller’s character, most people do not find the “perfect” job and still lead happy and productive lives and careers. So don’t fret it if these leading indicators of satisfaction are lacking in your career. You can insert some of these ingredients of happiness to your job or, if not, to your life in general. For example, you can seek out more challenging assignments or create some for yourself like I do by running races.
The good news is that happiness is a choice. Regardless of circumstances you can choose your attitude. Optimism, relationships, expectations and commitment all impact career happiness more than the specific role. Therefore, changing a job may have little impact on your satisfaction. Happiness begins inside us and shapes the work we do and how we do it.
If you are asking a job to make you happy you are asking too much from the job. Teddy Roosevelt did not need to utter the key, because we all know the key is to choose happiness and not expect it to fall in your lap.