As working professionals we spend a major part of our waking hours at work. Naturally, we want them to be happy enough so that it doesn’t cast a spell of gloom on the rest of the day. While some days the sun may shine on us other days we might be too caught up with work-related stress. This brings us to a question: why do we actually work? Apparently because we want a regular source of income, but along comes the secondary and tertiary expectations like learning on-the-job, experience a sense of belonging and a sense of ownership of work perhaps? But, is that all that keeps us going and happy? Do our desires to take away a handsome pay check or an opportunity to work under someone we look up to or ‘I have my career sorted’, figure in the scheme of things too? And, even if they do, can we pinpoint what exactly other than these make us happy?
To find out what matters to employees, Harvard Business Review recently concluded an analysis of their app, Happify. The users were asked to write down three things that happened to them today and yesterday for which they felt a sense of gratitude. The purpose of asking this question was to gain an insight into what people ‘recognise and value on a daily basis’. The analysts extracted 200 topics and discovered that there were 14 prominent and work-related words that were listed by users. As stated in the article published in the HBR, these included, “general job satisfaction, commute and work breaks, positive peer interaction, having time off, achieving high work performance, benefits and compensation, and interviewing and landing a new job”. These factors influence work-satisfaction and these ultimately tend to point at having life outside work and the money to afford this life that make for a happy work life. So, if you have a job that permits you to enjoy both then there’s no way you could be happier. Perhaps?
Another obvious yet important observation they make is that the U-shaped job satisfaction curve is high in the beginning i.e. when employees are in their 30s, it then dips in the 40s and rises in the 50s as the retirement period approaches. It goes without saying that every human being’s desires and wants change and what was important earlier may hold zero significance later on when we have more grey hair. When we are young our priorities are different as compared to when we are way into the second or third quarter of our lives where we are overwhelmed by responsibilities and eventually want to have stable finances for a peaceful retirement period.
Think of it this way: you get a ‘to your expectations salary’ and have enough time to spend with friends and family, do you think this is enough for you to be happy? Or is there more? Figure that out for yourself. One thing is for sure, and which has already been stated above: your expectations change with age, but while they do, stay in sync with what keeps you happy.