This is the 15th post in December’s Top Tens in 2010 Series. This guest post was written by Penelope Trunk, CEO of Brazen Careerist, and the leader of an entire army of career rocketeers. Penelope is on her own list of badass career women, and I know that I’m not the only gen yer who can say she’s made a difference in my life. I’m honored to have Penelope’s contribution to the series, and welcome her for the 2nd time to our little pink corner of the web.
Most people who think their biggest problem is their job actually have much bigger problems in their lives. A job is often just a scapegoat for the really serious issues in our lives. To better understand why you do not need a new job, you need to understand how a job relates to your happiness.
1. Happiness is something you’re born with. Or not.
It’ s really clear to me that liking a job has far less to do with what the job is than who you are. For one thing, our happiness, about life in general, is basically predetermined before we are born. Two-thirds of it, at least. So either we have a predisposition to be happy with whatever we get in life, or we have a predisposition to be discontent. It has nothing to do with what job we are in.
2. There are not good jobs and bad jobs. There are good fits.
My favorite career guide is Do What Your Are, by Paul Tieger. The assumption is that if you find out who you are and what drives you, then you can get a job that enables you to use your strengths and not your weaknesses and that will feel fulfilling. I like it because you learn, in this book, how every job is fulfilling to someone. It’ s just about proper matching. And the fulfillment factor is not about whether you are at a good company, or the quality of your likely career path. The fulfillment factor is you being who you are in your job.
3. All of us need only three things in a job.
I bet you are thinking. “ Well, some jobs are definitely bad: coal mining would be too much for me.”
You need three simple things in any job:
- Control over your work environment
- Control over your work load
- Challenging goals you can meet
If you have these three things then your job will not prevent you from being happy.
But the job can’ t do any more for you – I mean, there is no magic job to make you have good self-esteem.
4. Most of your predispositions about good jobs are misguided.
Also, take note: Most legal and consulting jobs do not meet these three criteria.
Still doubtful? Look at the military. The military is one of the most satisfying jobs around, according to a study by Careerbliss.com. I don’ t think this is because risking your life is satisfying. I think it’ s because people self-select for the military, and it’ s mostly people who are predisposed to be happy.
They are rule followers, they don’ t question authority, they like working in teams and they are working toward a common goal.
5. Focusing on your jobs is easier than focusing on your life.
So why do people continue to talk about the perfect job, the best job, the most successful, and on and on? I think it’s because it’s so hard to face who we are, and the consequent limitations, that we try to ignore it.
Also, fixing who we are, if we really don’t like what we see, is so much harder than changing jobs.
6. Dump your plans to have kids instead of dumping your job.
Even though your kids take a lot of energy and definitely do not make you happier. Really. There are reams of research to show this. It’s not that they make you unhappy, but on balance, they take up all your time and energy and basically all they do is make marriage more difficult.
7. Instead of finding a new job, find a spouse.
The biggest factor we can change to improve our lives is our relationships with other adults. For example, I know this is not politically correct, but married people are happier, by a long shot, than unmarried people. This might be cause and affect – people who are happier find a mate, people who are more optimistic get married. But whatever the reason, your happiness will go up significantly if you get married.
8. Don’t ever change jobs for more money.
You would need to make an extra $150,000 in order to be happier earning more money farther away from people you love. In general, more influence makes us happy but more money doesn’t. And the jobs that bring influence are generally jobs that people do for free, or for very low wages (writing, speaking, making a movie).
9. Get some focus before you decide it’ s your job.
Changing jobs takes a lot of time and energy. The more you change jobs, the more energy your career takes out of you. Which matters a lot if you are trying to build a happy life. We each have only a finite amount of energy. Use your energy to achieve more self-discipline and more intimate relationships. The payoff is higher, and anyway, you probably have a job that’ s just fine. Because look: you just read this post while you’ re at work.
10. Believe this if you believe nothing else I’ve written
You need to meditate way more than you need a new job.