Over the years, I’ve written a lot about the strategies that we recommend firm owners use to keep their employees happy and, therefore, highly productive. That’s because over the years, I’ve come to realize that being happy in our work is not only a major indicator of how well we will perform our jobs, but also how we feel about many other areas of our lives. Happy employees tend to be better spouses, parents, children, friends, citizens and members of the global community.
Yet while one’s working environment is important, your company can only do so much to promote your happiness. Whether you’re an owner-advisor, a receptionist or have any job in between, it’s important to take responsibility for your own happiness. To do that, the first step is determining just how happy you currently are.
Surprisingly, most of us really don’t know. We’re usually so caught up in doing what we feel we need to do that we rarely stop to consider whether it’s what we should do. That means that we also aren’t thinking about whether—just maybe—we should be doing something else.
With our client firms, we use a number of indicators to help us gauge how happy their owners and employees are. To that list, I’ve added some things I look at to keep tabs on my own happiness. The result is 10 questions that will help you determine whether your job is really doing it for you.
1. What’s your energy level? While it’s not the only thing we look at, we find that the best indicator of on-the-job happiness is how much energy someone has when they are at work. Sure, we all have down days, but generally people who are happy in their jobs are passionate about them. That passion shows up in their energy level. People who like what they do take their jobs seriously. They throw themselves into doing a good job and usually succeed. If you don’t feel energized at work most days, it’s probably past time to ask yourself why.
2. Are you spending most of your energy on something other than your job? These days most of us have many demands on our time and energy: family, friends, community, education, commitments, hobbies, travel, etc. But for most of us, our jobs make up a large portion of where we spend our time. I’m not saying your job should be the most important thing in your life—it probably isn’t—but it is a big part of your life, and if you’re not happy doing it, it will have an impact on the more important things. Find a balance in which you have enough energy to do your job well and to do the more important things. For whatever reason, if you can’t find a way to do that in your current job, it’s probably time to think about a change for the sake of all the important things in your life, including you.
3. Can you sit at a table with your coworkers, look around at them and honestly say you don’t envy the lives of anyone around you? If so, you’re probably sitting at the wrong table. Particularly in a small business such as an advisory firm, you all may have different jobs, but you’re trying to accomplish the same goals. Different employees (and owners) bring different skills to help achieve those goals, and virtually nobody has all the skills to reach the level of success you’ve achieved together. If you don’t respect the contributions of your co-workers toward your combined success, you don’t share their goals. You’d be a lot happier working with people whose goals you do share.
4. What can you learn from the people around you? Personal growth is one of the greatest sources of happiness: the feeling that you’re getting better at things that are important to you and to others. If you don’t feel that you’re growing in your current job, then it’s probably time to look for a situation where you can grow.