Career Reboot: Excitement, Not Happiness

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Nov 19

Most of us will change careers in our lifetime. Some say multiple careers will be “normal.” When we get to the point where our current work isn’t satisfying, we make the decision that we need to change.

And what do the pundits ask us when we want to change? This one: “What will make you happy?” Or worse: “What goals do you want to set for yourself?”

It is the wrong question.

When we’re in a position that isn’t satisfying, we can have many different emotions. There is a “bunker” mentality that is prevalent in companies with persistent layoffs. This prevents us from moving on even though we know it is the right action to take.

There is the feeling of paranoia, where we believe management (or our teammates) are out to get us.

There is anxiety — about most everything from being laid off to wondering about the performance review.

But, the big one for me is boredom. The work is boring. Boring, boring, boring.

And with boring work, it is tough to answer the question “What will make you happy?” Because the easy answer is “just to get out of here into a different job.” Which will, of course, become boring soon enough.

The right question

If boring is bad, it isn’t happiness we seek. No, as the title of this article says, the right question is “What excites you?”

It is excitement we should seek and happiness will follow. Whatever excites us engages us in our work. Whatever excites us translates to passion. Whatever excites us is visibly seen by others we work with during our day.

It is excitement that gets us up in the morning. It is excitement that helps us work through the problems. It is excitement when we want to learn new skills.

What excites you?

Implementing a Membership option, creating the on-line How to write your performance review, and getting newsletters going on this site is exciting to me (call me crazy!). What excites me is helping others learn how to navigate their career. How to make choices about their work. How to deal with poor bosses and overcome unrelenting corporations driven to profit when we have to work for the very same corporations. Figuring out the best way to help the readers of this site and the students who want to get their career in gear.

All of it is hard work and long hours. But when you are excited, the engagement — the flow — is incredible.

So when you are looking to reboot your career, ask yourself what excites you. Not what makes you happy.

What excites you?

  • […] a career is only three parts: finding excitement in your work, building your job skills and performing well in your work. Those three parts lead to […]

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