Why some are happy in their jobs, and others are not

Tonight at a Brooklyn rooftop bar I met Joel and Chloe. Joel is originally from the Domenican Republic, Chloe comes from South Korea. They met each other and live in Brooklym, NYC. Besides having beers, fun and nachos with guacamole, we had quite an interesting discussion on careers.

Both are doing a similar job, kind of markering. Chloe is happy and passionate about her job while Joel is not showing the same glimmer in the eyes. They are different persons, have different talents and should in fact pursuit different careers to be happy. Chloe is more the ‘numbers’ girl, Joel is more the ‘creative’ guy. We talked about the importance of getting to know yourself as THE step 1 of your life. How can you ever have a happy and effective life if you don’t know which end goal will give you the final gratification?

Take home: if we all would know ourselves, it would have a huge impact on the economy and people would be way much happier! So, why does the educational system invest so less time in this ‘skill’?

Here’s an observation from a highly succesful person who recently published a fantastic book called ‘Principles’:

“What I have seen is that the happiest people discover their own nature and match their life to it” Ray Dalio

Yes getting to know yourself is a skill, and it takes 1-2 years of continuous effort IF you know how to do it. Side note: I know quite some people working in the educational system that are quite demotivated. 1) for them it’s mentally very hard to quit as they have ‘fixed positions’ (a real poison if you ask me…), 2) demotivated teachers cannot inspire the future workforce and in fact do the opposite, having lasting and really bad economic and social consequences. I know people with eg scientific talents that did not pursue scientific careers due to their underperforming former teachers. On the other hand, motivated teachers do launch spectacular careers…

From a young age, children should be 1) learned how to discover themselves and 2) told which talents might be above average. The educational system is currently missing this feature completely. (PS: also, do they teach you how to organise your tasks, work and life?)
So in fact the following 3 factors drive your personal professional happiness, with the first being the most important: 1) your values, 2) your strengths, 3) your weaknesses. You should search for the overlapping zone between values and strenghts and you will outperform many. You will go to job interviews differently (you be the one asking most questions in order to assess if the company can make you happy). Weaknesses will tell you what to avoid or to improve.

By the way: this is a video of Jack Ma on education worth watching ;-). Values, feelings, etc distinguish us from machines. We are thought facts and knowledge, and not really the wisdom (lessons). Computers are good at facts and data, not at determining the lessons.

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How do you get to know yourself?

So how do we get to know ourselves?

  • Google ‘Covey’s funeral test’: visualise the end of your life and how you would like everyone should think about you. You will discover your basic values. A good measurement is also observing which behavior drives you nuts. Typically, if others violate one of your values (eg ‘radical honesty’), you immediately notice it as kind of gut feeling. Those are signs of values.
  • Eead the little yet wise book ‘Managing Oneself’ (Drucker): do feedback analysis. Every time you take a major decision in your life, write down the expected outcomes, as detailed as possible. After a year or so, compare the outcomes with the expected outcomes. Diagnose the differences.
  • Also ask others where you are good at AND bad at. Both are important, as you should focus on the first, avoid (eg delegate) the second. Don’t try to improve what you are really not good at, unless it is essential (eg I am a bad listener by nature, but will try to improve that). Others usually have a better picture on this, we all assess ourselves usually inaccurately. However, be careful:
    • Explain the other person why first, stressing that he/she can ‘help you’ improving. People typically hate to give accurate negative feedback.
    • Overcome the barrier to asking for negative feedback. You will not like it in the beginning.

The future

So what about Joel and Chloe? Chloe will further pursue the job that doesn’t feel as a job. Joel will change, and he has found the courage and motivation for that, despite eventual social pressure in the form of ‘you have such a good job, are you crazy?’ You are the only one able to assess if it is a good job for you! Not your family, friends,… you! (If you know yourself)

On a scale 1-10, how well do you know yourself? I would score myself 7 now, 3 points higher than 2y ago.

Ps: just share if you like it

2 thoughts on “Why some are happy in their jobs, and others are not

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