by Jessica Stillman
Over your lifetime you’re going to spend a lot of time at work — about 90,000 hours according to Jessica Pryce-Jones, author of Happiness at Work. That’s a long time to be unhappy. Just like the number of hours you spend in your bed justifies the cost of a quality mattress, the number of hours you spend at the office means you owe it to yourself to make sure its not a miserable place to be.
Of course, sometimes happiness at work means reinventing yourself and finding a new career, pushing for more responsibility or sorting out misunderstandings with your boss. But other times, the work is mental and you need to think through what’s important to you and reconfigure how you understand your job.
There are plenty of career coaches and assorted therapists who will help you adjust how you understand and approach your work and then send you a bill. Sometimes it’s worth consulting one. But if you have the sort of manageable problems and proactive attitude (or tiny budget) that make a DIY cure sound like a better bet, then Psychology Today has an article for you.
In it, author Dan Buettner offers a series of questions that can help you think through your own career ambitions and stresses to maximize your happiness on the job. Here they are:
How is this work important?
What can I contribute?
What excites me?
How can this work challenge me in an ongoing way?
Would I do this work even if I didn’t get paid?
How does this address my passions?
Would I think about my work even when I’m not working?
Does this work make me feel proud?
Can I achieve excellence at this?
Can I forge a true friendship with the other people who work here?
Buettner writes that both positive answers and negative answers are useful, so don’t despair if the list reveals plenty of areas to work on. At least you’ll know what aspects of your job are going well and what areas you need to strengthen. In the article he also offers more resources to help you think through the implications of your answers and act on them.
What do these questions reveal about your career?