How happy are you in your current job? A question I’ve asked a few times working in the recruitment industry for 20+ years. But, how important is being happy in your career? And what happens if you hate your job and feel stuck?
It’s said that an average person will spend one-third of their lives at work, and a massive 90,000 hours working over a lifetime, (NFPS) so choosing a career that you love and feel passionate about is an important part of living a fulfilling life. When you love what you do, you tend to feel a sense of purpose and belonging, you’re happier, more productive, and optimistic, not to mention more motivated. You’ll learn faster, make fewer mistakes, and ultimately make better business decisions, and finally, you’ll smile more, have a spring in your step, and be relentlessly positive even during those darker, wetter days ahead. This ethos of job satisfaction reminds me of the character Ted Lasso (Apple TV Show, played by Jason Sudeikis). Ted is an American football coach who becomes the Manager at the struggling English Premier League football team AFC Richmond.
Having only recently watched the show, I found myself in awe of Ted’s character, and the overwhelming passion he injects into his career and the positive impact on those around him. Ted lives and breathes his job and the energy and dedication he pours into it was so inspiring to watch. I’ve committed to being a bit more Ted, and I have to say, I’m happier for it!
So many of us bring our work home, and if you hate your job, the chances are you’re not happy in life. Numerous studies have linked unhappiness at work with unhappiness at home. Life is tough enough, so being weighed down in an unfulfilling role can have a detrimental impact on your home life, not to mention your own mental and perhaps physical health.
If you’re unhappy or unsatisfied with your job, it’s a risk to your well-being to not do anything about it. It’s more than just watching the clock counting down the minutes until home time, there are major health consequences reported, so working in a job you hate could be killing you!
“Be a goldfish”
There are a few quotes that have stuck with me from Ted Lasso series but this one in particular I love. One of the Richmond AFC players Sam Obisaya (Toheeb Jimoh) makes a mistake during practice, and Jamie (Phil Dunster) relentlessly heckles him in front of the whole team. Ted pulls Sam aside and tells him to “Be a goldfish”. It’s the happiest animal in the world because of its short-term memory. This mantra, which gets repeated at least once a season, is about learning to let things go. Don’t dwell on mistakes. Instead, be a goldfish; forget about it, and move on.
If you are unhappy in your work, the first thing you need to do is breathe and be a goldfish, then take a step back to pause and reflect. Pinpoint what you dislike about your current role and think about what can be done to improve your work happiness.
Elements that are making you dislike your job or career could be no flexibility, a poor work-life balance, no recognition from duty Managers or your team, or poor company culture. I once heard of a company that recognised its employees by gifting them a £10 John Lewis voucher, an amount that is arguably unspendable in the retail giant. You could also dislike your poor salary, no goal-oriented leadership, lack of development, or your role just isn’t challenging enough, the list goes on… Finding work that interests and challenges you is an important part of loving your job. Doing the same thing day in and day out can be draining and may not be ticking enough boxes for you.
While every day may not be sunshine and flowers in the role of your dreams, if you’re in a job you genuinely feel passionate about that suits you and your lifestyle, it will help you maintain a positive attitude on even the most challenging of days. When someone achieves job satisfaction, your work is more consistent, and focus is easier. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychologist, reported that the state of flow known as “being in the zone” mainly comes from finding enjoyment in your work. When you are in this state of flow, you become more creative and focused and often think of ideas and solutions a lot faster.
The good part? You can make changes for the better.
Whether it’s because your company values align with your own, or you feel valued for your contributions at your place of work, you can leave the office feeling upbeat at the end of each workday when you love your job. Understandably, there may be aspects or tasks that you do not look forward to as much, or feel you are not as accomplished in, however, you can learn to enjoy the rewarding feeling of completing the challenges or difficult parts that come with a role. We’ve all had that feeling of satisfaction when we’ve completed the dreaded task on our to-do list, or sent that final sign off email.
There’s an expression that really sticks with me, and I stand by, it’s called, ‘Eat The Frog’ meaning complete the hardest, toughest, or most challenging task at the start of your working day, this way the task is done and you need not worry about it for the rest of your working day. The frog has been eaten in the morning and it’ll be digested and forgotten about by lunchtime.
This reminds me of another quote in Ted Lasso.
“Taking on a challenge is a lot like riding a horse, isn’t it? If you’re comfortable while you’re doing it, you’re probably doing it wrong.”
Having a job that you love and that challenges you every day plays an integral part in the harmony of your life. It contributes to your health, lifestyle, and quality of work. And it’s not always about the money. I recently heard of a man who was once working in the stock exchange in London, earning well over six-figures per year, that was detrimental to his mental health, so he quit, worked his notice, and now stacks shelves at Tesco and has ultimate job satisfaction. It’s important to have a career you love, and as Ted would say be “curious, not judgmental” and “believe” in a better future.
Let’s all try to be more Ted.