When You Love Your Job
Anyone who has been in the workforce for any length of time at all, invariably runs across people absolutely in love with their jobs, who repeat the platitude that When you love your job, you never work a day in your life. What I have noticed about these people that it is better to be one than to be around one. If you are around one, all you do is wonder how they do it, so years ago, I decided to study the person who was constantly happy at work.
Originally I thought that this rare person had a lessened workload than those who consistently grumbled about their jobs, but found that that was not the case. Most often happy workers had the same or more of a workload than did the grumblers. In life the willing and competent are frequently given more of the load precisely because they are cooperative and easy to work with.
Then I suspected that the happy group was getting more compensation or privileges than the unhappy workers, but in most cases were not receiving any scaled up benefits. No, there seemed to be no obvious monetary advantage that inspired these workers’ contentment.
So I began asking the people that seemed to enjoy their work, what it was that kept them energized and happy. Over the years several characteristics began to emerge as common traits of these people. The first is they cared enough for their own wellbeing that they would not choose paths in their lives that ran contrary to their nature. That is the beginning of the habit of making decisions with the intention of not putting themselves in situations that caused them to feel constantly inadequate, out of step and uncertain of their place in the system. They made these decisions for themselves and did not let others’ opinions weaken their resolve.
The second trait was knowing what kind of life they wanted and what they were ready to do to attain it. They worked toward that goal in their studies, training and continuing education. They all have said that when they kept true to their plans, they remained motivated to make the necessary sacrifices and investments to get to where they wanted to be. This gives meaning to what they are doing to build their futures.
Finally, the last trait that seemed strange to me at first, was the decision to just be happy during their lives. They were no Pollyannas, blindly greeting every day with unrealistic enthusiasm. Like everyone else, they had suffered the unpleasant, disillusioning losses and hurts that are essential parts of the human experience. However, they embraced the belief that they could not stay down and defeated whenever hard times that would come into their lives. They understood that sadness, loneliness, loss and failure are going to happen, and they could either give into despair, or rejoin life wiser and ready to move onward toward their goals. All correspondents agreed that in the end they decided they could accept defeat and be unhappy, and felt compelled to regroup and embrace happiness. Each saw it as a decision to default to being happy, no matter what trouble they experienced in their personal or professional life.
In summary, my observations are the following: 1. Know yourself well enough to make decisions that put you in the best positions that fit your natural strengths and predilections, and let no one define those for you. 2. Clarify your desires and goals and make the necessary sacrifices or investments to get you where you want to be. 3. Choose happiness as your default attitude toward life, and no matter what disappointments you suffer, find your way back to happiness.
If this sounds like a commencement speech, it is just that I believe that whether you are 17 and trying to find a career (for example in dentistry), or you are 57 and trying to find a way to retire from decades of dentistry, the process remains the same; make good decisions that fit your nature, make the necessary sacrifices and investments to reach your goals, and choose happiness as your default attitude in the face of all of life’s challenges.
By way of my own professional journey, I have had the good fortune of having three careers in my life. Before graduating in 1979 from the University of Georgia, my brother and I purchased an old plant nursery that had been destroyed in a tornado. We got it for a song and rebuilt it. As that business grew, I did a master’s degree and a doctorate. In 1999, I sold out my stock in the plant nursery to my brother and accepted an academic position in the University of Georgia in my old department as a lecturer; a post funded by the Department of Romance Languages and the Terry School of Business. I taught business Spanish and business culture for working in the Hispanic world. In 2010 Lynette and I started R & C Consulting which we turned into the Concierge Contact Center. As it grew, I maintained my academic job until the summer of 2016, when I retired and came to give a fulltime effort with Lynette. We are now more than eight years in this process. I can honestly say that the lessons in this blogs were the result of years of effort on my own path, and I can report that I am still happy and excited about what will happen next.