When was the last time you were truly happy at work?
A week ago? Maybe months or years ago?
It's tempting to think that we're stuck, that we need to be thankful for having a job at all and that getting paid is all that matters. While I absolutely don't doubt the power of our financial need to work and the need to put food on the table and a roof overhead, a pure focus on money has somehow given us permission to believe that we don’t deserve to be happy at work.
Sounds strange doesn't it? But deep down, some of us believe that work is meant to be a struggle, that it's meant to be hard. That enjoying your work somehow means you're not working hard enough.
As a career coach, I've seen this too many times to count. When I've been through a process of career exploration with clients in job search and asked a simple question like "what did you enjoy in your last job?" I've seen it in their eyes. That some part of them believed that happiness was for the person sitting in the next office. Not for them. Happiness at work was eluding them because they didn't deserve it.
What if we all deserved to be happy at work? No matter what work we did, regardless of where we worked. Once all our basic needs are met, why can't we shoot for happiness?
What matters is that your work gives you meaning, some purpose. We’ve all met someone who loves what they do, even if we’re not sure why or even if we could love the work that they do. There can be happiness in the smallest of tasks and the most complex of projects. We need to find work that provides meaning and then become more engaged in what we're doing. Happiness at work shouldn’t escape us, it shouldn’t be for the lucky few. Give yourself permission to be happy.