Happiness at work happens when we are honest with ourselves. The only challenge is that many people are scared to face the truth. Why is this? The truth often requires we reassess our identity. It may also require drastic changes in our career. We may have seen ourselves as a certain way only to realize we really are not that person at all. We may have thought a certain career path was right but then realize we aren’t passionate about our work.
As an example, recently I met with a client who felt “stuck” and didn’t know what to do next. While my client felt “stuck,” she actually was very clear on the action she needed to take. During our conversation I noticed my client’s body language came across as defeated and burned out. I asked my client point blank, “Do you feel exhausted?” She said, “Yes, I am totally exhausted.” I then went on to ask her, “What do you need to take care of yourself?” She said, “I need to leave my job.” This was quite a powerful statement but it also led to tremendous fear. My client told me her identity was wrapped up in her job, yet her job was leaving her drained and unhappy.
During our process of self-exploration, it was clear my client was feeling drained because she kept pushing herself, constantly seeking approval from her work. She had a tendency to take on more and more work, trying to prove to herself and others that she could handle it all. Well, the dam eventually burst. She became so exhausted it was hard for her to concentrate and instead of getting a lot done, she barely got much done!
My client realized her high pressure intense job in finance was no longer her passion (and she questioned if finance was ever her passion). She had obtained her MBA in hopes of making it “big” which translated to earning a lot of money. Another truth that came out during our session: money didn’t motivate her or make her happy. So despite the big bonuses and high salary, her heart was not in finance.
At the end of our session, my client seemed so relieved. It was like she let go of this huge weight of living a life that wasn’t true to who she was and what made her happy. While my client needed time to figure out next steps, she knew quitting her job in finance was an initial truth that would set her free.