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Surveys show that most of us hate our jobs. This doesn’t mean that you *have* to

by Frame of Mind August 1, 2013

“I love my new job!” A friend said to me recently during a day at the beach. “The time passes by so quickly. It doesn’t feel like work. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing,” he said passionately. I was immediately struck by the enthusiasm and overwhelming positivity of the comment. It is not every day that you hear people express such a strong, keen interest in their job.

Hearing this comment made me curious. What is it that makes people happy at work? Are people happy because they are passionate about what they are doing? Is it because of factors like good pay, good coworkers or a good boss or team? Or is it simply because of a positive mindset and attitude that they bring to their workplace each day?

I set out to investigate, and soon found that workplace satisfaction is rarer than one might think. According to Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report, seventy percent of U.S. employees are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work. According to Mercer’s 2010 What’s Working survey, 32% of US workers are seriously considering leaving their organization (up from 25% in 2005).

Seriously? That many people are disconnected from their workplace? This pondering of workplace happiness again resurfaced when I received an e-mail from a Program Chairperson at the International Coaching Federation. “I’m no longer in this position, but I will gladly forward your inquiry to someone who will be able to help you,” the e-mail read. “With Enthusiasm, Laura.”

With enthusiasm? How incredible is that? Someone so in tune with their fervor for work life that they emit happiness in the most random of places: in their e-mail valediction.

Another conversation immediately came to mind. A few months ago, I was chatting with a friend after an a capella performance. “I know that whatever job I do I will always be happy,” this friend said. Wow.

I approached Kim Ades while further pondering the recipe for workplace happiness.

“It is clear and simple,” said Kim, and my eyes bulged a little at the idea that something so complex might seem so easy. “People are fulfilled with their job when they are growing and when they know they are contributing. People are happy when their jobs align with their ‘sweet spot,’ their unique talents and skills — the ones that come to them naturally and light them up. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we are operating in our sweet spot the bulk of the time in our careers. We often believe that it’s our employer’s responsibility to generate our happiness — the truth is, our happiness is in our own hands.

How crazy. This means we can all bounce off the walls each day at our jobs. We can all change how we do tasks so they channel our sweet spot. And maybe, the next time you hear someone say “I love my new job!” it will be you.

Further reading about work satisfaction

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