Career joy: Avoid these 3 pitfalls that steal it

career joy, smiling woman sitting at desk with computer on it

I highly doubt there is a human being in existence who experiences 100% joy at all times, every day, in his or her career. Life is full of ups and downs. There’s no such thing as a perfect day because there’s no such thing as a perfect person. It’s natural to yearn for and aspire to career joy, however. Who wants to go to work and feel miserable every day? That’s a recipe for high levels of personal dissatisfaction and stress in life, which is a recipe for mental, physical and emotional ill-health.

Is there something impeding your career joy? It might be one of three pitfalls. Read on, and see if you can relate to the following issues that often keep people from enjoying their jobs. The good news is that, there are solutions to each of these problems!

Career joy will never come if you’re waiting for perfection

career joy, woman with dreadlocks sitting at table looking down at cell phone

Did you enter adult life hoping to find “the perfect career”? Perhaps, you’ve been muddling through numerous jobs through the years. You have viewed each of them as a stepping stone or temporary necessity while you wait for your “perfect” opportunity. Career perfection is a myth. The sooner you let go of this myth, the better chance you’ll have of finding career joy in life.

True inner peace comes from processing life (and work) “as is” rather than how you think it ought to be or hope it will be someday. Does this mean you shouldn’t have goals or dreams or envision a certain type of future? Of course, not, but if you are so focused on searching or waiting for “the perfect job” that you disregard the blessings that exist in the one you have right now, it’s a losing situation when it comes to finding career joy. How do you resolve this issue? Make a concentrated effort to be joyful while you work and to focus on the positive things your current job brings to your life. If you don’t want it to be your permanent career, that’s okay. Just don’t get caught up in believing there is a “perfect” job out there, and you just have to find it. There’s not, and you never will, and believing there is or that you can is a sure-fired way to rob yourself of career joy.

Having a master’s degree guarantees career joy

hand holding diploma wrapped in red ribbon

That’s a big, fat LIE. It is also a common myth that keeps people from experiencing joy and satisfaction in their work. It’s an erroneous idea that, if you have a master’s degree, you’ll be making big bucks. The degree is not a guarantee for income nor joy in your career. You can have multiple degrees; if your attitude stinks or you’re lazy, chances are, you not only won’t achieve success in your field, you won’t be happy either.

Unfortunately, many people earn a master’s degree but are unable to find a job in their chosen fields of study. Career joy is unattainable if you falsely believe your degree alone will lead to success. The solution? View your degree as a valuable asset, not the be all and end all of on-the-job happiness.

It’s also a joy-stealer if you are down on yourself because you do not have a master’s degree (or college degree of any kind). The fact is many people are learning that attending college is not for everyone. There is a dire need for tradesmen and entrepreneurs in our modern world, as well. If you choose not to pursue post secondary education, that’s fine! Don’t let it rob you of career joy. Make your life decisions with confidence and find the path that enables you to be your best self and to experience joy in your work.

You’re not stuck

career joy, man sitting on couch with hands up to face

It’s especially true that older people (We will define “older” here as anyone age 50 or beyond.) often lose their career joy because they feel stuck. They think they have to ride out the job they have because no one will hire them at their age. Perhaps, you have a dream but have been busy taking care of obligations in life and have not had a chance to pursue it. Go for it!

Maybe you’d like a change of pace or to work in a different industry. Try it! The worst that can happen if you seek new employment is that the prospective employer will turn you down. Then again, he or she might decide you would be a great asset to the company! You’ll never know if you don’t try. Many employers nowadays place significant value on maturity, life experience and time-tested skills. The days are gone when being older than 50 makes you unemployable. Don’t let this myth rob you of career joy.

Finally, my dad always taught me that a job is not there for me to like it as much as it is a means to provide for a need. He always said that work will be what I make of it. He would also say that a boss doesn’t owe me anything — I owe the boss. In other words, the job itself is not the cause of joy, my attitude toward the job is the secret ingredient. If you blame the boss or co-workers for your lack of joy at work, you’re on the wrong track. Consider these practical tips for experiencing more joy in the workplace. Joy doesn’t “happen” as much as it is a state of mind. YOU control your mind. Choose joy in life and in your career!

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