There is no doubt about it. Work plays a huge role in our lives. So much so that most of us use what we do as a way to define who we are. The problem is that many of us don’t really like what we do for a living. That isn’t to say we dislike it–it’s just that our jobs simply don’t thrill us. At the end of the day, there is no deep feeling of satisfaction for having made a difference in the world or even in the lives of those around us. In fact, a recent study shows that 4 out of 5 people are unhappy in their jobs.
As a wellness coach, I spend a lot of time working with people who are trying to rekindle the passion they used to feel for their work. Let’s face it, years of striving to get ahead and create a successful life can be exhausting. Just trying to stay ahead of the curve at the office and at home can be enough to send anyone searching for that proverbial deserted island.
But what about that other twenty percent of the population? Those people who love their job and can’t wait to get up in the morning to face a new set of challenges. How perfect can that feel?
Without question, it is better to love your job instead of constantly checking career websites. However, something very odd can happen when your job means that much to you. It is very subtle and takes place over time, sometimes at a glacial pace. And when change happens that slowly, it is almost impossible to recognize until one day you look up from your computer and realize that everything is different.
When your career is rich and fulfilling, it is easy to let it become the focus of your life. Your day can be stressful and overwhelming, but it is also amazingly gratifying. What could be the problem with that? The problem lies in the fact that when one part of your life overshadows the rest and demands almost all of your attention, there is very little energy left to share with anything else in your life.
I was talking with an old friend I hadn’t seen for a while a few days ago. The conversation rolled around to what we were doing these days, and he told me how much he loved his job. It was chaotic. And challenging. And overwhelming. And he loved it. Wouldn’t change a thing about it.
He’s also on his second marriage. The first one fell apart after all those years, but he couldn’t really tell me why. He supposed they just grew apart after the kids were grown.
Unfortunately, when your job is your main priority, others in your life can suffer. Family and personal time slowly erode away as emails need to be answered after dinner or deadlines and dinner meetings mean that you don’t make it home until long after the kids are in bed. Phone calls begin to replace time spent relaxing together on the sofa, discussing the day. Phone calls give way to text messaging– they are much quicker and you can get back to what is really important at the moment.
As I said, these changes take place over time. It’s that your spouse or partner isn’t important–it’s just that you need to close that deal. You can catch up later. After all, that two-week vacation is coming up soon, and there will be plenty of time to talk then. There is a saying that the person whose calls you always take is the person you are in a relationship with. When you take your boss’s calls before you take your spouse’s, you may want to reevaluate your priorities.
If you have noticed a distance growing between your and your spouse or partner, there are ways to bridge that gap before it is too late without going into an early retirement. Instead of asking the question, “ How was your day?” replace it with “How did you feel about your day?” That question can be followed by asking what they thought about their day.
The first question–the one we usually ask–is not an open-ended question. Too often the answer is “Busy. Fine. What’s for dinner?” There really is no chance to begin a discussion about what happened to that person today or how they felt about it. Asking someone what they think or feel about a situation may not seem like a drastic shift in daily behaviors, but it can have an immeasurable effect on the quality of dialogue between two people.
The important thing to keep in mind is that a relationship is like a garden. It needs to be watered, tended, and fed if it is to thrive. Asking how someone close to you actually feels about something is one of the best ways to tend to that relationship. It fosters a caring and a tenderness that can survive even the harshest of professional stressors.
A satisfying career is one of the key elements to a fulfilling life. Just make certain that equal time is given to your most important relationships as well. Having a great job is a wonderful thing. And having someone who cares about you and what happens to you everyday makes it that much better.
Ready to balance your priorities? Click here for free thirty minute session to see how we can work together to make your goals a reality before 2014.