Guide to a Happy Career


Can you really find a happy career? Is it possible to wake up every morning and truly WANT to go to work?


Not if you’re part of the 42% of the American workforce that reported being unhappy with their jobs, according to a 2009 labor happiness index study. While 42% may be in the minority, that is still significant considering the potential loss in productivity resulting from unhappy workers.

Signs You are Unhappy with Your Career


According to Alexander Kjerulf, the self-styled “Chief Happiness Officer (CHO),” and author of Happy Hour is 9 to 5: Learn How To Love Your Job, Create a Great Business and Kick Butt at Work, signs that you’re not happy with your job or career include:

• Procrastination

• You spend Sunday night worrying about Monday morning

• You become really competitive about salary and titles, primarily because your happiness is not derived from the work, but from your title and pay

• You don’t feel like helping co-workers; you become too selfish

• Work days feel looooong!

• You have no friends at work

• Small things bug you, you’re always feeling irritated and complaining, or should I say, whining

• You’re suspicious of other people’s motives

• Physical symptoms – like insomnia, headaches, low energy, muscle tension, stress (hopefully you don’t let it get to that level before you quit!)

So why do some people feel unhappy in their careers?


There are the usual suspects: poor compensation, nasty bosses and co-workers, bad working conditions and schedule, etc.

But the most important reason, however, why some people feel unhappy in their career is when they cannot attain their highest potentials, especially when they feel they are not growing toward that potential. We are wired for growth and excellence, and you tend to feel unhappy when you are being inhibited from attaining that excellence.

The key to a happy career is excellence! You want to feel that you are not just good at what you do, but simply the best! Your attitude to work is no longer that it’s just a job to pay the bills, but that it’s a passion and a mission. You are not looking forward to retirement, but feel that you can keep doing this for the rest of your life.

Why do some people end up with unhappy careers?


• Ignorance – lack of adequate knowledge about career fields, which may be a result of limited education and exposure. I’m sure you’ve heard some people say sometimes: “If I had known about so and so field what I was in college, I would have majored in it.”

Low expectations – which could be a symptom of low self-esteem. You didn’t think you could be an attorney, so you settled for a legal assistant … only to discover that you probably could have been a better attorney than most of the lawyers in your law office.

• Parental or peer pressure – you parents want to live their unfulfilled lives through you, so they dictate your career for you. (You really wanted to be a writer, but your parents talked you into getting a “real job,” or you wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, but they reminded you that teachers often starve, and you should go get a corporate job).

• Fear of change – you know you’re in the wrong career, but you feel you have “invested” so much time, training and effort in your present career, you don’t feel like making the move to change.

• Focusing on the pay check instead of on your skill sets and emotions – if you went into a career because of promise of pay check alone, you will soon find yourself burnt out and dissatisfied with your career.

• Square peg in a round hole? – I’m sure you’ve heard that cliché many times. If you’re in a career where your skills and temperament do not fit, chances are that you will be unhappy.

Steps to a Happy Career


  • “Man, know thyself” – that’s the ageless advise from that the ancient sage, Socrates. Self-discovery is the first step to a happy career. You must recognize not only your strengths, but also your weaknesses. When you do what you love … what you truly love, work stops being work; it becomes fun.


  • You can start with a self evaluation test in which you ask yourself series of questions and try to provide honest answers to them. Determine your likes and dislikes; what you’re good at, and what you’re not so good at. The biggest thing preventing you from getting a career you love… believe it or not… is YOU.


  • Once you determine what you want, the next step is to go out there to get it. If you need additional education, qualification or skill set, you may want to consider online degree program, certificate or online courses.