Happiness as a career choice

I woke up from a strange dream: A house was for sale. I was browsing pictures in the advertisement.

The pictures were strange though, some were paintings, others personal photos of the people who had lived and worked there. There was an atmosphere of lost battles for success, but they also showed people who had been serious about trying to achieve something despite their imperfections.

I think a lot about the outcomes of what I do. I evaluate my performance thinking about what I have achieved today testing, managing testing, and coaching quality. It’s part of the seriousness driving me.

But am I happy in my career?

I think the dream may have been inspired by a radio program about happiness which I listened to yesterday while doing the dishes and cleaning up after dinner.

They talked about two types of happiness:

  • One which is like water, a lovely experience, but often gone again as quickly as we suddenly feel it.
  • The other is about quality of life, which can even be measured qualitatively. It is more persistent.

Both, however, are difficult or even impossible to control. We desire them, but we cannot be sure about them.

Interestingly it seems to me they also talked about a third type of happiness, one which I’ll call “the choice of potential happiness”.

Thinking of my dream: What would my work life look like in a sales ad of what would remain of me with all my imperfections and half-failed attemtps to achieve persistent success?

Growing up, I learnt to be serious, giving sacrifices, but I also knew I should choose happiness. I’m not sure I’ve been successful all the time, but I try to remind myself now of the career choices I’ve made trying make myself (and others!) happy.

I think that’s what career choices should be about: People in tech are often very result-driven and work hard to see things happen at work because of us.

The flip side of this is that we are often also very critical about performances. But this blog is about career and making conscious choices, not about performance.

I recently talked to a friend about a difficult career choice she had to make. It seems to me that most career choices are fundamentally about balancing performance, achievements, and results on one side, and happiness at Work at the other:

  1. What could make me happy at work? Can I give feedback to someone which could improve the situation enough for me to be happy? Or should I accept that new job offer I got?
  2. Where am I heading as a person, what are the results I am trying to achieve at work and in my career? Am I working to my full potential?

Even at my 25th year in my career, I’m not done trying to find this balance.

I can achieve results, but promotions are often missed, results not credited, achievements not rewarded.

And I can seek happiness, but it doesn’t come with a warranty.

The people in my dream looked silly, but they had obviously worked to achieve happiness. Trying is a result too!

DSC_1484
A silly thought: If happiness is like water, perhaps we can be like fish and try to swim our careers instead of controlling them. This fish made us happy cooking and eating it.

2 thoughts on “Happiness as a career choice

  1. The other day, I commented to a friend who was about to make a major career change that there often comes the point where you decide to break away from something you’ve done all your working life. You will know when it’s the right decision, and no matter what the consequences are, it remains the right decision. I made such a move ten years ago, and despite spending some time unemployed and having a relocation forced upon me, I still don’t ever regret making the move.

    I hope the pictures in your dream weren’t as strange as these real-life ones: http://terriblerealestateagentphotos.com/

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