How to use your happiness in career development

Tagit: HR, career, jobs, career development

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Are you doing what you do [for living] out of habit and wage or because what you do makes you feel good and valuable? Do you feel your job is not motivating you to do your best, and you rarely feel your output actually means something? Finding a job that really makes you happy is possible. And regardless of your career ambitions (or lack of them), I like to think time is of an essence, and we should use it wisely. This means, we should also aim to find happiness at work.

I once had an email dialogue with a young woman, who declined a new job, because she understood she was a creature of habit, and the type of job she’d been offer was merely a repetition of what she’d done for years and she wanted to change her job, because she hated it. And there she was, about to do the same mistake again.

Why she emailed me, was because she realized this through Heebo. She’d taken the time to use Heebo for figuring out her true personal strengths, motivators and interests. She’d used Heebo for the purpose I wanted to create for job seekers: going beyond CV and digging deeper into one’s competencies, personal achievements, sources of motivation and work personality.

She realized she actually had more professionally useful skills and capabilities she had ever thought about, and that she was wasting her time on a career path that wasn’t taking advantage of her abilities and interests, and therefore not satisfying her ambitions and making her happy.

Not everyone are career oriented, and that’s fine. There are loads of people who only go to work to make a living, and who live, truly live a life outside work. But there are also lot of people for whom their job means a lot, who are eager to develop their professional skills, gain experiences and make professional accomplishments. I believe they still share the same need: to feel happiness in whatever to do and how they choose to do.

Most times, career oriented people vest more time in figuring out their career path. Yet sometimes you can get stucked into a path that you seem not to be capable of getting out. The longer we spend time on this path, the more difficult it is to get out of it. Emploeyrs are not that keen on hiring risk. And it feels risky to hire a person who does not have experience in tackling those tasks the job presents.

It’s a lot of work to start over in a new job with strange people. You have to put a lot more effort into proving yourself and finding your place in a new group of people. However, if the thought of the new work week makes you sleepless on Sunday evening, perhaps you should think how to cut the cord with your current job.

START BY UNDERSTANDING WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

What is it that you really enjoy doing? This is where you must look further than your current or previous jobs. Our spare time is usually a reflection of what makes us happy. We tend to have hobbies and use our spare time on activities that make us happy. When you get a kick out of doing something, the mere doing it motivates you. You’re not expecting anyone to pay you for it, or cheer you for it. Now, both of those might be nice extras, but you will do it regardless, right? What activities and hobbies have you done in your lifetime that have been a lot of fun for you? That you’ve really enjoyed doing? If you had time just to yourself, what would you want to spend it on?

What we like to spend our time on is the key. Evaluate what drives you beyond salary. What do you love doing so much that the mere doing it motivates you to start over or continue, or invest time into it?

Is it something you do alone or in a group?

Does it involve creating something? If yes, is the result visible in general? Is it visible immediately or after a long period of time?

Is it something in which you build your knowledge? Or is it physically demanding, building on your stamina and well being?

If it involves other people, are you usually part of the group or leader of the group? Is the group big or small? What does the involvement in this group require from you?

Do you give others something of yours, like knowledge, time or care? Or are you the one on the receiving end?


Digging into your habits can be a great learning experience giving you insight into what you really love doing. Understanding better the sources of motivation can help you figure out what type of job could offer you the same or similar sources of motivation. Sources of motivations tend to be sources of happiness as well.

Here’s my example:

  • I enjoy mystery books, because I like to figure out what leads to the solution. Many times I read the outcome first, and then figure the tracks to it whilst reading the story. Before my businesses and family started taking up all my spare time, I also used to do lot of puzzles. I enjoy problem solving.

  • I’ve always had creative hobbies from handicrafts to writing, from drawing to painting, from acting to singing, from writing to taking pictures. Even to this day, I enjoy anything where I can produce something visible. I really love building legos with my son for example, writing blog postings, doing up web sites etc. I like expressing myself and putting my ideas and visions into concrete.

  • Whatever I do must deliver a visible outcome quickly. I get bored if something takes too long. If the over all task spans over a long time, I have to split it somehow to get fast results in parts. Otherwise my motivation dies soon, and I embark on something new and more exciting. When I painted the walls of my son’s room, the best part was the first round when I saw fast results: white turning into shade of blueberry. The next day, when the paint had dried and I had to fix some areas, that was no longer motivating and interesting to me. I did it, but I didn’t like it. I’d rather my husband would have done the tweaking in detail. I need short term goals and the opportunity to see results fast. If things move too slowly, I easily lose my interest. I also find it difficult to focus on details that are not important for the big picture. Too much repetition and monotony kill my motivation fast.

  • I’m very curious about the world around me. I love information! I like to know what happens around me, or out there, and use that information for decision making. Understanding the bigger picture motivates me. I like to weigh my decisions and actions against the larger whole. If I cannot have access to current affairs (for example on a holiday) I feel really disconnected from the world.

  • I like doing things on my own, but I regularly need the company of other people. I can be really unsocial and distance myself from others, but when I’m social, it’s probably fair to say I am highly social, outgoing and talkative. Socially I need a balance between alone time and social time. I like to do things together with friends as long as it won’t last days and days, or I can be alone in between. I’m also most social with people I already know. Socially I’m not that comfortable alone with strangers, but if I click with a stranger, I can easily have the time of my life. 

  • I like to compete. Whatever we play or do, I find it difficult to tolerate being on the losing side. Second best is no best for me. I enjoy the feeling of great accomplishment. And I get the kick out of being first. Challenge me, and I’ll go forward like a bull dozer.

  • I sleep fairly little, and can be without food or drink for hours not even noticing it. I have a lot of energy, I need to do something all the time, and I find it really difficult to just sit down and not do anything. During summer vacation, it takes me easily 2-3 weeks to lower my revs per mile. I cannot even concentrate on reading a full magazine without doing something in between. But I get a lot done. My assembly line has a massive production record. I am a doer. I get frustrated if I cannot personally dig my hands into sand. I need to have the opportunity to do something active, produce something concrete and real. And many of the active things actually recharge me. I cannot operate in surroundings that slow me down. Unless that’s what I was really after.

  • I have always been an achiever. I love when things materialize in front of me. I can be super persistent if I decide to. I won’t give up. But at the same time, if I’m not in the mood, I’ll quit in a heart beat. I am a mood person. Other people’s moods affect mine both in a positive and negative manner, and this has a direct consequence to my motivation. Good vibes around me are necessary for my motivation. When I’m charged in the right way, there’s really nothing that can stop me.

  • When you do a little analysis like this about your personal preferences and motivators, you can probably recognize which of your personality traits and capabilities are the source of your motivation. To find happiness at work is focusing on using these traits and capabilities also professionally.

In my case I could make a list like this:

  • Problem solving
  • Goal orientation and challenges
  • Fast pace
  • Concreteness
  • Excellent atmosphere and chemistry with the people around
  • Independence
  • Good mixture of aloness and social activity
  • Information for decision making
  • Change
  • Use your list in analyzing what types of jobs or job offerings you should go for that most support your motivators, personality traits and capabilities.

GOING AROUND OF BEING A RISK FACTOR AS A JOB CANDIDATE

We tend to be offered new jobs that are similar to what we’ve done before, because we usually share information only about our professional experiences and qualifications with recruiters. This together with employers lack of eagerness to take risks and hire people to positions from which they have no experience from results in sticking to a career path that is a pretty direct path. If this is what you planned and what makes you happy, that’s great! If you want more curves onto your path, or to a totally new path, you need to understand the risk factor in hiring. Because understanding it gives you the opportunity to go around it.

Employers are seldom willing to hire risk.

Hiring a new employee is always a very costly decision. Especially here in Finland (and any other country where terminating employment is almost impossible, or at least expensive).

Your job as a candidate is to minimize the risk factors that come with you. Companies hire people to fill voids. Each position has a reason for it’s existence. There are results and outcomes that are expected from the person holding the position.

Most often job advertisements do not say anything about the expectations of the position. You need to ask what are the goals and expected outcomes from the position over a period. I find that many times the recruiters have not thought about this, so you cannot give up. If they are not able to give you clear expectations, ask what type of behavior, attitude and accomplishments would make them evaluate the performance to meeting expectations -level after the first year.

Find these out, and figure out first if meeting these expectations motivate and interest you, and if you say yes, then find evidence from your motivators, working style, past professional and personal achievements and accomplishments to prove you are able to produce these results and outcomes. This is how you lower the risk of hiring you. Especially, if the position is outside your current career path.

FIND EVIDENCE TO PROVE YOUR COMPETENCIES

Unlike we tend to think, employers do not really care how you learned your skills. Only thing that really matters is whether you have the skill they deem valuable for their business. For this reason, I strongly recommend you to look beyond your professional experience when finding “evidence” to prove your competencies. It wouldn’t be the first time someone made their hobby into a profession. Skills, strengths and experience gained from hobbies and from spare time are just as valuable (sometimes even more valuable, as they tend to reflect your inner motivators) as work experience. Most job seekers abandon this side complitely. I’m the most interested in people’s spare time interests and activities, as those show where the true motivators are, and if I can make use of those in the position I am hiring for, we have a win-win -situation.

FINAL NOTE: HOW TO USE YOUR HAPPINESS IN CAREER DEVELOPMENT


We spend so much of our time at work. It’s not a bad idea to find a job you love so much it doesn’t feel like a job. Figuring out what really makes you happy, what really motivates you starts by looking outside your professional life. It’s not about making couch surfing or raising kids your job, but recognizing what it is in the activity that makes you content, and using that information in order to find similar sources of happiness and motivation in professional sceneries. Looking beyond is the key. This is how I intended Heebo for you as a job seeker: a platform that allows you to go beyond the boring CV and really dig into who you are*), what you’ve done and what you’ve learned and accomplished. Whether you use Heebo or not for this, it really pays off to think about how you spend your time awake, and make most if it.




*) We are in the middle of translating and generating features in the English language. Not all may be available yet. 

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