Some things can make our working days and weeks happier – whether it’s a favourite lunch spot, finding a fresh approach to daily tasks or adding some enjoyment to our routines.
But looking at the big picture, how do you find happiness in your career?
Checking in with yourself every now and then can help you put a long-term perspective on your career and take steps toward what makes you happy and fulfilled.
Here are some strategies to get you started.
Find what you love doing
“Find your passion” might be a familiar phrase, but what does it actually boil down to? Some people seem to know their passion from the get-go. If that’s not you, it could just be about finding the things you like working on, tasks you get enjoyment from completing, causes you care about, or topics that interest you. Whatever the case, working out ways to incorporate things you’re passionate about in your career can make it more fulfilling. You could take a look at your current job – are there tasks you enjoy that you wish were a bigger part of your responsibilities? Perhaps there are things outside of your job that want to do more of. Whether they’re big or small, once you identify the things you love doing you can aim to bring them into your working life.
Strike a balance between work and life
It’s great to have a job you love, but if you never get to see friends or family or take care of yourself then it’s probably not sustainable for any long period. If work feels all-consuming, it can help to think about the expectations that could be behind this. If it’s because of your employer’s expectations, could you talk to your boss or manager about it and see if you could restructure your responsibilities? Or, if you realise that you’re feeling overwhelmed because of your own expectations of yourself, it could be a good moment to take a step back and reconnect with things you like outside of work. Balance can be tricky and sometimes things will swing one way or the other – but constantly feeling overworked will make it harder to feel happy and fulfilled long-term.
Be ok with changing tack
Sometimes you’ve got to let go of what’s not working to make room for something new. Goals help to drive us, but it’s possible to get stuck on an idea of what we think we should be doing – and caught up in trying to pursue it – that we might not realise if it isn’t making us happy. So, if you’re finding that pursuing what you thought was your dream job just isn’t working out, it might be best to put that goal aside for a while and try something new. A different approach can lead to a new outcome, and that in itself can be fulfilling.
Lean on your support network
For times when your working life is challenging – or perhaps not challenging enough – having outside opinions or even just someone to talk with can help. A support network doesn’t have to be anything formal. It can be as simple as looking to the people around you. Friends and family know you as someone outside of work, so their perspective on you and how your job fits into your life can be really valuable. If you want to talk to someone who knows the specific challenges of your role or industry, you could try chatting to colleagues you get along with or seeing if you can find a mentor. Or, for guidance in achieving goals, a career coach could be an option to look into. Whether it’s professional help or the backing of your friends and family, support and perspective from others can help you seek out happiness in your career.
Read: Get ahead with a mentor
Understand your finances and expectations
A happy career may involve doing what you love and challenge you in a good way, but combining passion with the practical elements is often a necessary juggle. Remind yourself that it’s totally ok to focus on making ends meet – don’t feel like you have to let go of practical needs because you feel you have to follow your passion. And at the same time, know there could be other ways to bring fulfilment to your career even if circumstances mean you can’t change roles right now.
Ultimately, it’s more important that your job works for you in the right ways – whether that’s financially, for lifestyle or fulfilment – than fitting other peoples’ definitions of success. Taking stock of where you’re at by using these points as reminders can help you take steps towards happiness in your career.