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Achieving career happiness

 
A New York Times article identified work as having a strong influence over how happy we are, pointing out, “Work can bring happiness by marrying our passions to our skills, empowering us to create value in our lives and in the lives of others.”

Feeling fulfilled in your job starts with getting in touch with what makes you happy. Once you have identified that, you can start to think about how you can map your career decisions to those criteria.

Happiness is everywhere

We are in the midst of a global happiness movement, full of books, movies and scientific studies. I was invited to present at the 6Heads sustainability shorts film festival, an evening of films and clips that inspire change. I selected the film “HAPPY,” which highlights how defining our top three to five values helps us to make decisions about how we behave and who we spend our time with so that we can live a happier, more purposeful life.

What I love about this movie is that it takes us on a journey outside of the self to help us challenge our core values — it “explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion.”

Happiness is not based on material possessions or the wealth generated by local businesses. It’s our connection to ourselves and to others. Real satisfaction and meaning emerge when we recognise our interdependence and what that means in terms of how we treat one another and want to be treated. Creating good work and building healthy communities are not just things we dream about. They are what we must do to realise the happiness available to any of us willing to work for it. 

Start with values, passion, and purpose

It is important to continue challenging ourselves in order to grow professionally, so, as you decide on goals and challenges for next year, think about what makes you happy, personally and professionally, and start mapping your criteria. All you have to do is take out a piece of paper and write down:

1. What are your passions?
2. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
3. What is your bigger purpose in life?
4. What characteristics do you admire in others?
5. What do you like, not love, about yourself?

Once you have a one pager answering the questions above, you will have much more insight into how your current job, boss and company fit with you — the authentic you. If upon reflection you see that where you currently are now is well aligned, then you may want to rethink the “grass is always greener” mentality. However, if the writing is on the walls that your current job is not aligned with at least 50 percent of your values, then it may be time to make a change.

Gross National Happiness over GDP

In 1972 the Dragon King of Bhutan coined a national measurement of happiness like the GNP called the Gross National Happiness. Interestingly, the values that drive sustainability roles are perfectly aligned with the four pillars of the GNH:

• The promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development
• The preservation and promotion of cultural values
• The conservation of the natural environment
• The establishment of good governance

What we learn from Bhutan is that you cannot take for granted that standard measures of growth and prosperity, such as GDP, will be universally meaningful. Likewise, the things you are supposed to be striving for in your career may not bring satisfaction with them.

So, what matters most to you?

Remember, sustainable career happiness is a long-term endeavour. The challenges you face in finding personal satisfaction and meaning within a sustainability job are common ones that can be overcome with mindful, proactive behaviour.

This article originally appeared on GreenBiz.com.

Image source: http://www.thehappymovie.com/

Shannon Houde

About the Author

Shannon Houde is an ICF certified executive and career coach who founded, Walk of Life Consulting, the first international professional development advisory business focused solely on the social impact, environmental and sustainable business fields.

Read more about Shannon's credentials →

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