Positive psychologists including Martin Seligman, Ed Diener and others have indeed validated that people who have ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ in their life tend to report higher levels of well-being than those without it.
At conferences around the western world you’re more than likely to hear motivational speeches where the speaker will tell you what’s required to be happy in life is to pursue your passion?
Sure… but what that tells me, is there must be a lot of very unhappy people in this world, because my guess is (and that’s all it is, a fairly educated guess) the majority of people in this world do not wake up every day going to work in a job where they are pursuing their passion.
And what’s even more of a reality, the majority of people with mortgages, families and typical life expenses, aren’t in a position to just up and leave their jobs in pursuit of their passion.
Let’s look at this from a different angle.
While some people may be lucky enough that they can pursue their passion and make a living out of it, what about the rest? What can be done if you’re in a boring and uninspiring job role, and you’re also faced with the reality that getting another more interesting job is highly unlikely.. or just too risky for you to try at least in the short term.
One way is to choose the ‘best bits’ of your job… whatever they might be, and while doing all the stuff you’ve got to do to earn your pay, keep the best bits at top of your mind. Here are seven examples you might like to try:
- Maximise your relationships at work
- Set personal work goals daily and try and beat your personal best
- Get more mindful about what you’re doing – learn more about it
- Remind yourself of what you are passionate about – posters, pictures etc.
- Make the most of your ‘breaks’ during work – no matter how short they might be
- Start a gratitude journal and try to find one thing every day that you’re grateful for at work
- Choose to be happy even when you’re not (not always easy, but certainly doable).
When I started out as a junior bank teller in the late seventies, I did not enjoy my job. However, I remember clearly that I did set myself personal goals to be the quickest at balancing my cash at the end of every day, and that while not enjoying the actual tasks of taking deposits and cashing cheques, I did enjoy trying to make conversation with even the most abrupt of customers (yep – I was the overly happy and chatty bank teller when you just wanted to do the transaction and get out of the bank). I also remember focusing my positivity when the Accountant (who was not a nice man) was tough on me, by silently reminding myself that this was not what I was going to be doing for the rest of my life and that something great was just around the corner. And something great was just around the corner, because my positive attitude, despite not enjoying my job, got me hired in the Learning and Development department of the Bank and my career as an adult educator (which is fortunately pursuing my passion) began.
I know the seven ideas work – they’re practical and they can be readily applied by anyone.
It just takes intentional choice… and the choice not to even try will just keep you stuck in a job you don’t like, ignoring the best bits, and eating away at your overall sense of well-being.