A great article in BusinessWeek … make that Bloomberg BusinessWeek .. addresses the cause and effect of happiness and work.
Authors Marshall and Kelly Goldsmith reviewed a survey on short-term satisfaction and long-term benefit at work and at home. A few observations they made really got me thinking:
- There is an incredibly high correlation between people’s happiness and meaning at work and at home. In other words, those who experience happiness and meaning at work tend also to experience them outside of work. Those who are miserable on the job are usually miserable at home.
- One commonly expressed excuse for not getting more happiness and meaning out of life is: “I’m working too many hours.” But our results show that the number of hours worked had no significant correlation with happiness or meaning experienced at work or at home.
- The amount of time respondents spent solely on stimulating activities (high short-term satisfaction but low long-term benefit) had no bearing on their satisfaction at work. The same was true of more purposeful activities (low short-term satisfaction but high long-term benefit). Overall satisfaction at work increased only if both the amount of happiness and meaning experienced by employees simultaneously increased.
Part of the reason I tore this article out and re-read it a few times is that so many people are unhappy at work and are sure they’d be happier if they could just get a different job. To be sure, there are terrible bosses and awful jobs out there. But the Goldsmiths view this data as saying our happiness at work and at home starts with us. We need to create our own meaning and our own happiness.
What are you doing to be happier at home or at work? What helps you find meaning in what you’re doing professionally or personally?