We have all heard the old adage, “If you do what makes you happy, you won’t work a day in your life,” and yet more than half of all working Americans are unsatisfied with their job, according to The Conference Board Job Satisfaction survey.
Why is this? Why don’t people do what makes them happy? I’m no expert on money and happiness, but the most likely answer is that people do what brings in the enough money to pay the bills. When you have mouths to feed and have to have a way to put a roof over your head, you take whatever job you can find, without due regard to happiness.
We all think we have the rest of our lives to pursue what makes us happy. Especially when we’re in our 20s and 30s, we feel like we have our whole lives ahead of us. What’s another year or two in a job that makes us miserable, as long as we’re paying the bills?
The average life expectancy for American citizens is 78.8 years old, meaning most healthy Americans can reasonably look for to a long life in which to pursue their dreams and do what makes them happy in the long run. That being said, the hard truth is that cancer, unintentional injuries (i.e. car accidents for example), and other diseases make up the bulk of the mortality rate in this country.
You never know what life is going to spring on you, and you never know how long you have to live your life.
Life is short, do what makes you happy. Even if you don’t have a way to get paid for what makes you happy, find time to devote to the things and activities that bring you joy.
How happy are you?
There is a pretty interesting happiness survey, developed by psychologists Michael Argyle and Peter Hills of Oxford Brookes University, called the Oxford Happiness Questionaire. Take the quiz and see how your responses calculate on their happiness scale. Your results may surprise you.
When you wake up on Monday morning are you excited to start your work week? Or are you like the majority of Americans who are unhappy in their careers? Getting up every day to do something you hate can have a huge mental, emotional, and physical toll.
Are you working towards your “why”?
What is your “why”? Why do you go to work? For what purpose are you living your life? What goals are you working towards? There is absolutely nothing wrong with working a job that doesn’t make you thrilled to start the work week, but if you aren’t working towards your why, your happiness is going to suffer.
Family and financial responsibility have to be our biggest priorities, of course, but it doesn’t mean you can’t work towards your goals as well. You’d be amazed at how simply changing your mindset, without changing a thing about your job can make you happy.
Set goals for yourself and say, “I’m going to continue to work this job as a means to an end. Once I… pay off my student loans, pay off my credit card, or finish school… I will pursue a career doing what I love.” Put a time limit on your willingness to endure a job you hate, and then take action to do something about changing your situation.
What is holding you back?
Do you feel stuck in a job you hate? Why are you staying if it’s putting your health and well-being at risk? Are you worried about failing or concerned that you won’t have enough money to take care of the bills? Kayla was feeling miserable in her 9-5 bank job, but she didn’t want to quit until she had the mean and ability to provide for herself. So, she did something about it. She set a 2015 goal for herself to build up her side hustle business so that she could comfortably quit her day job, knowing she’d have enough money from working at home to cover the bills. Now she is thriving and making more than she ever did at her bank job. She decided to build up her own business so that she could pave her own way and not be reliant on a job that stressed her out.
You don’t have to be reliant on a job that stresses you out, either. Find something that you can do that both makes you happy and brings in an income. Don’t feel like you have to be stuck in a job that you hate. Have faith and take a chance doing something you love.
Make time for the things that make you happy
Even if you don’t yet feel comfortable making a leap to change your career path, try to take time each day or each week for the things that do make you happy. Even if it’s just one weekend night each week, try to devote time to yourself, your hobbies, or your side hustles. In time, you may even be able to turn those hobbies and side hustles into a full-time job like Kayla did. While you’re working towards your personal goals, don’t forget to remember your why, and hold onto that reason to get you through the work week. Don’t let fear hold you back from the things you love and that make you happy. Create a timeline, devise a plan, and don’t settle. Life is too short to spend working a job that makes you miserable. Find a way to do what makes you happy.
Do you love your job? If you don’t, what’s holding you back?