Do you know anyone working their dream job right now? How many people do you know that are working a job they hate just to pay the bills, all the while holding out hope that their dream job will plop right down in their laps? All they are waiting for is the right time, right?
If you ventured a guess, the latter probably outnumbered the former by quite a large margin. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering that people have to pay bills to live, so they have a vested interest in earning a paycheck. But, some people find themselves completely restless with the path they’ve chosen and want to make a break for something new and exciting. That’s when many people break up with their reality and decide to chase a dream. You may not succeed but at least you can say you gave it a try, or you could end up living your dream.
Finding the Dream Job
Even if you have a solid job that is paying the bills and offering security, it may not be enough. If you want something else out of life then why not make the uncomfortable move and leave your situation? The drawback: going from plenty to living on the lower-rung of the pocketbook scale.
If you decide to try your hand at your dream job there will be setbacks, you will have to make sacrifices that, perhaps, you are not comfortable with. That means less eating out and less entertainment plans, you will have to limit your purchases to the essentials, while still leaving some for yourself.
Your friends and family should be your rock at this time. They should be there to provide help and encouragement, but if they’re not, it’s their loss and your life, so go live it.
Before you leave your current job, make sure you have something to fall back on. Make sure you have your dream job in place, even if you are close to getting it there is no guarantee. You do not want to put yourself in a compromising situation that you will have to dig your way out of.
A New Type of Rich
If you make a drastic step and totally alter your life, will it be worth it or will your life be more fraught with peril than before? Who knows, and it depends on your situation. If you decide to quit your job to focus on African alligator wrestling, you will be in for a complete, 180 degree change in lifestyle. But, you also reward yourself both spiritually and emotionally by following what it is you want to do.
The hardest part of making the change may be the fear of what people say about you. Even though your bank account may not be overflowing, your karma bank will be earning interest. And who cares what someone says about you, you’re following your dreams while they slave away in a cubicle working for a faceless, soul-sucking corporation who would just as easily fire them and everyone in the office if it improved their stockholder shares. So why do you care what people say, you have a dream and you’re following it. Live for yourself, even if it means a hit to the pocketbook.
Have you ever worked with someone who just seemed to have everything go her way? Her projects are successful; she gets one promotion after the other, and she’s just plain happy. So, why is she so successful?
Turns out being happy not only feels good but can also be an important part to achieving job success.
In an article from “Psychology Today” Sonja Lyubomirsky, a social psychologist at the University of California, Riverside writes the following:
“The most persuasive data regarding the effects of happiness on positive work outcomes come from longitudinal studies – that is, investigations that track the same participants over a long period of time. These studies are great. For example, people who report that they are happy at age 18 achieve greater financial independence, higher occupational attainment and greater work autonomy by age 26. Furthermore, the happier a person is, the more likely she will get a job offer, keep her job, and get a new job if she ever loses it. Finally, one fascinating study showed that people who express more positive emotions on the job receive more favorable evaluations from their supervisors 3.5 years later.”
Wow, that’s great news if you’re a naturally happy person, but what if you find being happy a challenge? In Kathryn Britton’s article, Six Tips for Taking Positive Psychology to Work she sites a study by R. Emmons and M.E. McCullough that found that people who focused on increasing their feelings of gratitude are healthier and feel better about their lives. So how do we increase our level of gratitude? Britton offers these suggestions:
- Pay attention to good things, large and small. This often requires intentional thought because bad things are more salient to us than good things. For example, I have a friend in his 80’s with arthritis in his hands. He becomes aware of it whenever he knocks something over or has trouble picking something up. I suggested that whenever he finds himself saying, “My poor crippled hands,” that he follow it with “My magnificent legs that let me walk every day without cane or walker.” That does not mean ignoring the painful or disabled. It means balancing it with occasional thoughts of how lucky we are to have so many working parts! We have to work a little to give the positive thoughts space in our brains.
- Pay attention to bad things that are avoided. I recently tripped over a small stump and fell flat on my face during a practice hike to get ready for our trip to the mountains. When I picked myself up, I was very grateful to have only a deep bruise on my thigh, no broken bones. It will take a while for the gorgeous 8 inch bruise to go away, but I can still hike. Thank goodness!
- Practice downward comparisons. That means thinking about how things could be worse, or were worse, or are worse for someone else. I don’t particularly like the idea of making myself feel more grateful by thinking of others who are worse off than I am. But it doesn’t have to be interpersonal. You can use downward comparison by remembering your own times of adversity or being aware of adversity avoided. The poet, Robert Pollock, said it thus: “Sorrows remembered sweeten present joy.” Here’s a work example. I have two friends who recently moved into the same department in the same company. One is relieved and happy because the situation seems so much better than before. The other is dissatisfied because the teamwork characterizing the old job is no longer there. The first has an easy time with downward contrast. The second will have to work a little harder to find reasons to be grateful.
- Establish regular times to focus on being grateful. Gratitude is a character strength that can be enhanced with practice. So practice. Marty Seligman describes two exercises in Authentic Happiness, the Gratitude Visit and a form of keeping a gratitude journal.
- When facing a loss or a difficult task or situation, remind yourself to be grateful both for what you haven’t lost and for the strengths and opportunities that arise from facing difficulties. Negative moods are catching, but positive ones can be as well. The character, Pollyanna, helped other people see the benefits in their situations by teaching them the Glad Game. Sometimes, having someone else see what is good in your own life makes it visible to you.
- Elicit and reinforce gratitude in the people around you. Tennen and Affleck found that benefit-seeking and benefit-remembering are linked to psychological and physical health. Benefit finding involves choosing to focus on the positive aspects of the situation and avoiding the feeling of being a victim.
So now you know her secret. Sure she may be talented too, but she’s happy and that is her competitive edge. Find ways to increase your own happiness: focus on gratitude, celebrate little victories, look for the positive in every situation, what ever works for you and get ready to experience your own career success.