How are you feeling right now? We all want to be happy at work, satisfied in our careers and engaged with our daily tasks. Far too often, we find ourselves in job roles that are not meeting our needs. Even if we are achieving a wage that we are pleased with (or even if we’re not) how we feel on the job is important.
Do you feel fulfilled? Do you feel that your career is “going somewhere”? Do you work for an engaged and encouraging boss? Or do you feel overworked, confused about your role and stressed out by your job tasks and key performance indicators?
Why it is essential to be ‘happy’ in your job
In 2010, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 78 per cent of Australians over the age of 18 claimed to be satisfied with their life. However, according to an International Social Survey Programme report there is one area in which Australians rank poorly for happiness; job satisfaction. “Australia was near the bottom of a list of 35 countries, and the worst among English-speaking nations,” says Body + Soul Magazine.
“Unsurprisingly, says Rob Silverblatt, a psychology writer from the United States, “researchers have also linked increased levels of happiness to better-functioning immune systems and to decreased amount of stress.”
“This can translate to performance on the job: better relationships, better functioning, more job satisfaction and fewer sick days.”
The happiness quiz – how do you rate?
How to answer: Grab a pen and paper and choose A, B, C or D. Select the feeling that most closely matches yours.
A: Strongly Disagree
D: Strongly Agree
The questions, choose A, B, C or D:
I always see the best in people, even if I find them difficult. (A B C D)?
Even if I know the answer to something, I ask for help and advice to make sure I am sure. (A B C D)?
I like to look at the positive side of life. (A B C D)?
I see the glass as half full, not half empty. (A B C D)?
I always keep in touch with my friends and family. (A B C D)?
I have satisfying work connections. (A B C D)?
I love my job and I have interesting work tasks to do. (A B C D)?
I usually feel lonely. (A B C D)?
I have a great support network around me. (A B C D)?
When I feel stressed, I like to run and hide from the world. (A B C D)?
I have trouble controlling my anger. (A B C D)?
I keep my troubles to myself. (A B C D)?
When I see a difficult problem, I look at other angles to find a solution. (A B C D)?
I never give up. I am a fighter. (A B C D)?
My colleagues would say I am easy to get along with. (A B C D)?
My boss inspires me. (A B C D)?
I know what I am supposed to be doing at work on a day to day basis and I enjoy it. (A B C D)?
I have a good relationship with my partner and/or parents. (A B C D)?
I feel confident in my own skin. (A B C D)?
I feel part of a community group. (A B C D)?
Got your answers? Head to this post to see how you scored!
How I changed careers, and found happiness
Carol Haffke from The Shoe Garden, Morningside, Queensland
Tell me why your previous career made you unhappy?
I was actually very happy for just over two decades working first as a newspaper journalist, then in public relations and finally for the past 10 years in fundraising. I had wanted to be a journo since my early teens and I did enjoy a successful career. That was, until I realised I was also exhausted and burnt out from working long hours and letting work take over my life.
How long did it take you to realise you were unhappy and needed a change?
It quite literally happened overnight! On a Saturday in November 2011, I was consumed with overseeing the organisation of a gala fundraising dinner that night for the charity I was working for at the time. I had no idea whatsoever that by the next day, I would decide to not just leave the organisation, but leave my career.
What was “the final straw” with your previous career?
I guess the gala fundraising dinner was the final straw. I was very disappointed in the event and it also topped off a tumultuous year with lots of staff challenges, the departure of a highly-respected CEO who was a close mentor and changes to the management team that all affected me.
What was your state of mind at the time?
I got home in the early hours of the Sunday morning following the gala and went to bed crying and then I woke up crying. I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I could barely get out of bed and then only to the couch and I simply couldn’t stop crying. From that moment of realisation, it suddenly occurred to me to open my own shoe shop specialising in longer sizes. I then felt an incredible sense of calm.
Was your ‘happiness level’ a factor in choosing a new career?
Absolutely! I knew I would be miserable staying in my job and in my profession, and I’ve always been someone to embrace change and not be scared of it. I think we are each responsible for making ourselves happy and creating environments and decisions around that.
Why does your new career make you happy?
For the first time in my career, I can be me! I’m no longer the impartial observer as a journalist or the spokesperson for my organisation channelling the thoughts of my CEO or Chair. All decisions are now my own, from what colour to paint the walls of my shop to what merchandise to buy, and everything I offer to my customers is a true representation of who I am.
How is your happiness level now?
I’ve never, ever, ever been happier! It’s funny but before I used to beat myself up all the time if I made a mistake as I felt so responsible and accountable. A big part of my happiness is that I now have something new to learn and appreciate, in terms of operating a small business and running a shoe shop. And probably one of the biggest reasons I am so happy is that I take my gorgeous Maltese, CC, to work with me every day. She sits on my desk and greets customers who all adore her and she is fabulous company. She makes me laugh every day.
How happy are you?
A few years ago, the Australian Bureau of Statistics collected some information on people’s overall life satisfaction in the National Health Survey. When asked about how they felt about their lives as a whole, 76% of Australian adults indicated they were delighted, pleased or mostly satisfied with their lives. Less than 6% of people combined indicated that they felt mostly dissatisfied, unhappy or terrible about their lives.
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Abraham Lincoln.
7 ways to be happy:
Meditation can be a great way to connect with your true self and help with stresses and other factors of modern life. Do it for free.
2. Do yoga
Yoga is a great way to relax and strengthen the body, and quieten the mind. It is suitable for all fitness levels. Check out this page for info.
3. Get fit
Go to the gym, start a boxing class, learn to lift weights or simply go on daily walks as a way of getting fresh and feeling more vital.
4. Learn something new
Thought of learning a language or gaining Photoshop skills? Try a 6 week Skill Builder course to get some additional knowledge.
5. Do a course
Open Colleges has a range of courses in many subject areas that could be the start of a whole new career. Need inspiration? Search 150 courses here.
6. Connect with your loved ones
People who stay connected to their friends and family are happier than those that don’t. Make the time to catch up in person where you can.
7. Support a charity
Giving to others can be a great way to enhance your feelings of happiness and connection. Be generous and do your research.