What if work isn't supposed to make you Happy?


This is the message that most of us have grown up hearing. From the time we enter high school we are told by our parents, teachers and society that we must pick a profession that we feel passionate about since we will be spending the majority of our lives devoting 40+ hours a week to that passion.

But, what if you don't know what your passion is? Or, you picked a degree/job that you thought would make you happy and your working in that field are surprised to find yourself unhappy?

Welcome to the club. Recent research has found that the majority of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs. I witnessed this first hand as an academic advisor when I frequently advised students who were returning to school to pursue a new career after coming to the conclusion that their current professions would not make them happy. I also saw it in my friends who graduate with their Bachelors and Masters degrees, spent a few years working in their field, and became quite upset when they realized they were unhappy.

What if work isn't supposed to make you happy?


I'm not saying that it's impossible to find work that will bring you joy and a sense of fulfillment. However, I am saying not all people will find that. In fact, the majority of us won't. I think realizing that will help people see that happiness should depend on factors outside work like time spent with family, volunteering, engaging in hobbies, traveling ... work is a means to enjoy these things but work itself shouldn't be seen as the vehicle to a meaningful life.

I believe I have shared this video before, but I love it so much I have to show it again now. Barry Schwartz discusses how having to many options can lead to dissatisfaction when people finally to pick something (a career, a spouse, a pair of jeans,...) Watching this TED talk a few years ago revolutionized the way I view my life. For years I second guessed myself, wondering if Psychology was 'the one' for me. Growing up I knew that I could be anything I wanted to if I just worked hard enough, and that is a lot of options and pressure for anyone! I still feel that way when I question if I'm in the 'right' career field. I particularly love Barry's suggestions for how to deal with 'choice overload' - lower your expectations.



Further Reading:

Oprah - The 4 Step Plan to Get Your Life on Track

Forbes - Majority of Employees Unhappy

MindBodyGreen - 3 Signs you are Suffering from Job Burnout

Do you regret the profession you chose to pursue?

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed with choices that you were unable to make a decision?