Here’s the real barrier to your career happiness

, , , ,

Happiness in your career is not as elusive as it might seem. In fact, there is plenty of research to tell you exactly how to find happiness, yet most people ignore the advice. Most people think they are the exception to the rule, but the truth is, you are no different than everyone else, and the research does apply to you.

Here is a short list of things people should do to find happiness in a career, which people generally do not do. This advice is backed by years of research and it is not particularly controversial among the researchers.

1. Observe people. Find the people who look happy to you and do what they do. Don't ask people if they are happy in their career. Most people will tell you they are happy because they have a vested interest in validating their own choices. So decide for yourself who is happy. This means getting to know a bunch of people. Interview them about what their life is like. Watch them at work. Trust your instinct.

2. Put passion before money. Research shows that once you can feed yourself and keep your electricity turned on, more money will not make your happier; no matter how much money someone makes they think they need 20% more to be happy. On top of that, research shows that people who choose careers they are passionate about make more money than people who choose a career for money. So stay away from jobs that won't pay enough for you to eat. But beyond that, choosing a career based on how much money you'll earn is one of the worst decisions you can make.

3. Go to the gym. You will do better in your career if you workout. It's a fact. Maybe it's that working out clears your head for thinking. Maybe it's that if you workout you look better and good looking people make more money. Or maybe it's that people who work out have a lot of self-discipline and that is what it takes to succeed at work, also. Whatever the reason, you are better off spending the last hour of your day at the gym than the office.

4. Have consistent sex. When it comes to happiness, personal relationships have significantly more impact than your job does. The best way to measure if you are maximizing your happiness from social relationships is by looking at your sex life. Research shows that sex once a week with a regular, committed partner will increase your happiness. Consider this research when deciding to move 500 miles away from your partner for a high paying job.

These four pieces of advice are not particularly difficult to follow. You don't have to be a genius. You don't need to live in a particular city. You don't need to have a good body or a good track record. So why are people so unhappy in their jobs? Because they don't follow the advice. Everyone thinks they are special, the exception to the rule, the complicated one for whom statistical research does not apply.

This is where Daniel Gilbert's research becomes important. He is a psychology professor at Harvard who studies happiness and he's noticed that no one takes the advice that research supports. He found that the reason people do not take steps that will make them happy is that they think they do not fit the mold. But he is adamant that people are not exceptional. When it comes to research about how to find happiness, humans are basically the same.

First, it's a logical impossibility that most people are the exception to the rule, yet most people believe they are. Ninety percent of drivers think they are better than average. Most football players think they are better than average. Most people believe they are worse at juggling than the average person. Statistically speaking, almost all these people have to be wrong.

Our perception of peoples' differences is exaggerated because we spend our lives finding differences between people to choose teachers, band mates and spouses. Gilbert recommends you think of grapes: “If you spend seven years studying the differences between grapes, no two will look the same to you, but really a grape is a grape.”

So, the truth is, the odds are overwhelming that you are average, and the things that set you apart are negligible when it comes to research about career happiness. So start running your life according to what people have already discovered works for the average person. Otherwise, the real barrier to your career happiness is you.

13 replies
  1. jack england
    jack england says:

    I feel sorry for your husband. you said yourself not to put so much into your work if you want to truly be are moving up the ladder on your own, great for you no one else. he feels like your job is first even if you tell him its not actions speek louder than words I do not want to speak to you like a baby but most smart people have little or no common concern with how n what thay do affects the people around you if you think to be happy is to have sex 1 a week you must just lay their to say well we did it this week mark that off the have trouble talking to him because you think you are the one trying to always fix things.I to do not want to see another kid with a single hope as to if i am not here maybe this would not be such a bad place to live for them.thay always think thay are the problem to your madness. stop thinking of fixing things and start giving more gratude to your hubby. I to stoped working to takecare of the kids.the wife works fulltime n thinks les n les of me every day we fell out of love she cannot help herself to think she is the who wears the pants just because she earns some doe. but because i have a way with people she now sees just how important my job is. it is very hard to trust someone with your kids now a days. Do this for me come home after work or when your done with stuff n do not talk about your job,friends,faimley,or your self n ask how was the kids today? tell him i have the easy part of what i do n you have the hard part n is better at it than me. IFYOUCAN then tell him what can i do to make your job easyer what ever it takes. please wb i want it to work for you to. your friend jack

  2. Jonson Yama
    Jonson Yama says:

    This very useful informations for every body. Because it help you to reasses your self and revice your personality. For me some times I feel shy about my self and avoinding recieving people.This just because I fell that i am not attractive to many. This make me worried all the time,when I found my self alone I consider that no body want to get in touch with me.

    Please advice me what to do?

    • Jeremy
      Jeremy says:

      Be confident in yourself and other people will feel and follow that confidence. Everyone has something they are not confident about but you can work on basically any of them. If it’s your skills build up your skill set. If it’s your looks hit the gym.

  3. AshishG
    AshishG says:

    Spot on. I believe the onus for most of the things going wrong is on ourselves only. Lately I am re-discovering the truth in the third point. Thanks for sensitizing your readers, by stating the obvious!

  4. Miss Alice
    Miss Alice says:

    An interesting article. I can attest to the effectiveness of no 2 from personal experience. I think no 2 is the reason why society should support people on a livable wage in all occupations, regardless of how apparently “useless” some fields of study or endeavour might seem to society.
    On number 4 – relationships with others are certainly important, but I think the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.

  5. Jeremy
    Jeremy says:

    Of course I am one of the average people that feels they don’t fit the mold for this advice haha.

    I have an interesting situation. I have learned a unique set of skills (IT related) in a past job. I currently work as a web developer and designer and I really like it. I have always wanted to work in this arena. I make about 35/hr now.

    One of my old bosses is offering me a position for 85/hr – it is not very stable and who knows what it could lead to but i think it’s a great opportunity to make a lot of money. I get to work from home some but travel a lot also. I do have a significant other who just wants me to do what makes me happy which is awesome but I think that amount of an increase in pay could make me very happy. I could be debt free, save for a ring, a house, and save up a bunch of money.

    But on the downside I would not get to see my gf everyday and I would be traveling and staying in different states sometimes. I know that traveling wears on me and wears me down. Also I wouldn’t be able to hang with my friends, play soccer, and all the other things I really like to do as much (depending on the amount of travel). I dunno it seems like a hard decision for me. Any advice??

  6. Alan
    Alan says:

    Look, I really apologize for saying this and I know you’re going to hate me, but “workout” is a noun, as are all the other verbs-and-adverb combos that not-quite-literate people conjoin into the noun form.

    You mean “You will do better in your career if you work out.” Think of “turn left”. You don’t write “turnleft”, do you?

    I know, you don’t have to be correct but wouldn’t you want to? Misapprehensions like this make people look bad.

    As for the article, I got myself fired from my dream job when my boss was replaced by one of the very few genuine a-holes I ever met. And, I don’t regret it at all, despite being long-term unemployed.

Comments are closed.