I was recently reminded of why I first began to specialise in coaching people into new careers. I was taken back to the time when I worked for one of the world’s largest Telecomms companies and how, after 14 years of working with data, ( or ‘widgets’ as I began to refer to it), I felt as though the life and soul had literally gone out of me. The truth was, I just didn’t care about widgets anymore. At first I cared. At first when I learned all about data and how it was transmitted from one place to another I found it fascinating. I even used to enjoy teaching others how it all worked. After many years of meetings and conference calls and more learning about widgets, the light got dimmer and dimmer and I realised the 2 career must haves that will ensure your happiness had been missing for a while.
After quite a bit of inward reflection, reading, researching and working with my own coach, I realised that working with people to help them find their life and soul in the workplace was the kind of work that would make me truly happy. As it happens I hit the jackpot. The latest research from the London School of Business and Finance (September 2015) indicates that 47% of the UK workforce are thinking about changing their career. Its even higher amongst millennials, 66% of them are looking to change career within the next 2 years. If you’re interested in their report, you can access it here.
Based on my experience, and from witnessing the journeys of thousands of clients over the last 15 years, the two must haves which I feel best represent a truly happy career are meaning and fulfillment.
Of course, there are other things that commonly crop up when I ask clients what needs to be present for them to be happy at work. They include:
making a difference, job satisfaction and good working relationships
The Keys to a Long and Happy Career
It is very likely that if you choose work that doesn’t include either meaning or fulfillment, you will become bored and, or stressed. In other words, if you haven’t engaged your heart in your career making decision, you’ll no doubt be looking for a new one sooner than you planned. Of course I accept that we’re all different and there will be people who are happy without these two elements, but in my experience, they are rare.
Engage Your Heart
Its easy to take a very logical approach to your career and forget that our happiness depends on more than a few ticks on a list of pros and cons.
If your heart has taken a bypass and your career gives you xyz but no meaning or fulfilment, its like running an engine without any fuel. You literally run out of energy and momentum and things become stagnant, or worse.
Meaning and fulfillment are what your heart desires. That doesn’t mean that you need to quit your job and go and build schools for orphans in the third world (although you could try it – I know people who have counted it as one of the best experiences of their lives). If your job is a little dry, but you enjoy it and get satisfaction and meaning from it, that’s absolutely okay.
How do I Know When I have Engaged my Heart?
Some of my clients struggle to feel into what makes their hearts sing. Our education and work cultures by and large encourage people to stuff down feelings and not engage with them. It’s no wonder that we can find it really difficult to access them. After all, most people aren’t paid to feel, they’re paid to think.
Let’s just take a moment to connect with your heart. What is your most tender memory? (make it a happy one for this exercise). Maybe its when you first fell in love, your child was born, or you enjoyed a loving moment with someone close to you. Spend a few moments with that special memory and feel what happens in your chest.
Its likely to feel expansive and your nervous system sparks into life. You can almost feel the endomorphines pumping round your body. It lifts your spirits and makes you want to smile.
That is what you feel when your heart is engaged. That is what happens when you have meaning and fulfillment at work. It might not be to the same degree as your special moment, but if you can feel your heart stir then you know you’ve found something worth exploring. And of course, if you can’t feel it anymore, that’s an indicator its time to reassess.
Need Some Help?
If you’d like some help to think about what career would provide you with meaning and fulfillment, or you’re worried that you’ve lost that loving feeling in your current one, please contact me. We can arrange a free, no obligation 40 minute chat to work out what’s going on for you. Alternatively, visit my services and see what programmes I offer to help you with your specific career need.
To your career happiness,