Over the years I’ve spoken to hundreds of individuals about their work. When things were going poorly, the situation could only be solved with hard work and complete honesty. Only then, were we able to identify what was feeding the unhappiness. Although the reasons were varied (and often layered) — most weren’t buried. They lingered right in front of our “proverbial noses”.
There are specific situations that I would consider absolute “land mines”, in terms of achieving work life happiness. (Where happiness contributes to both energy and success,) I thought you might benefit from a brief list of the worst offenders.
- Consider your family, to the exclusion of your own needs. Sacrificing a fulfilling work life for your family is quite noble. However, this will likely deplete your psychological resources longer-term — which benefits no one. If your job is intolerable, speak with your family about your hesitation to search for an alternative.
- Choose salary, in lieu of job alignment. Attractive, yes — recommended, no. I can safely say that once you’ve made this error, it becomes far less appealing. In some cases we must work with the opportunity as it presents. However, if there is an alternative, play the long game. When you love your work — the money is more likely to come.
- Ignore your “destiny”. In many cases, we aren’t ready to see (or act upon) what is right in front of us. (My journey as a writer, followed this route. I needed to find a way to wed the need to write with my training as a psychologist) Astute managers (and your colleagues) will see your gifts. Deal with your reservations to explore the opportunity to weave your potential into your work life.
- Stick with a horrible boss. Mastering the devil may be a path that appeals to you. However, it is just like placing a second bet after a significant loss — it is one you should never place. An individual changes only when they wish to change.
- Over-Invest. Yes, there is such a thing. When you begin to carry the load in terms of dedication, hope, workload — or any other aspect of your workplace — this will become unsustainable both physically and psychologically.
- Ignore your own personality. We cannot edit ourselves out of the work life equation. If you are a nightmare to supervise for example, your career can be negatively affected — and opportunities will bypass you. Delve into the reasons that cause the “knee-jerk” reactions that do you no favors at work.
Have I missed anything? Add to the conversation.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.