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This is How to be Happy at Work Because Your Dream Job is a Farce

10 Mins read

There’s a notion being sold and perpetuated, as our jobs have become increasingly entangled with our personal identities. It is the idea that work isn’t so much a means to an end; paying bills, putting food on the table, and financing our lives. But rather a way to live out our passions and realize our dreams for 40-plus hours a week. Hey, wake up to reality! This is how to be happy at work because your dream job is a farce […]

NOTES: This is How to Be Happy at Work Because Your Dream Job Is a Farce

This is how to be happy at work without ‘enmeshment,’ a phenomenon that psychologists,” says involves increasingly blurry lines between the self, work, and personal identity.

This concept is emboldened by the idea of a “dream job,” which you can see plastered onto questionably predatory job listings, listicles, and the musings of motivational speakers. The idea is undeniably a trap—how can work, regardless of what you do, assume qualities that don’t feel like work? But the concept remains a fixation for workers who strive to claim a certain sense of fulfillment from their careers.

Does a dream job exist?

If you’re a consultant who pledges to help unhappy workers find their ideal calling, then sure, dream jobs are real. These career coaches and workplace guides perpetuate the idea because it’s profitable. Or at least lucrative enough to keep the dream, so to speak, alive.

“A job is the work you do and the people you work with and the culture of the place you work. Some of that you can seek out, some of it you can control, but a lot of it just happens organically.”

In an aspirational society that celebrates rockstar CEOs, it’s no surprise that many Americans are gunning for their dream jobs. But this is in what’s ultimately a futile quest to attain something that doesn’t necessarily exist. Of course, having such lofty expectations can set workers up for a dramatic crash when reality sets in.

For Sophie Brown, a young journalist interviewed by the BBC in 2018, an idealized version of work didn’t match up with the long hours and demands of her fist big break in the industry.

She told the publication:

I hated the job and I hated the people there … Late nights, early mornings and weekends … me and my partner were like passing ships in the night. I hadn’t spent any time with my family in years. And I realized that this dream job, that I’d worked really hard for, actually wasn’t what I wanted at all.

It’s true that you can (and probably should) try to glean a sense of fulfillment and contentedness from your work. But when you place too much emphasis on becoming your job or deriving personal satisfaction from it, you risk an existential crisis.


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How to be happier at work

For Ross McCammon, author of the corporate etiquette guide Works Well With Others, the key to ultimately finding your emotional footing in the workplace involves focusing less on the job and more on your personal and professional development. “We should all aspire to a certain field or even a certain job title, but to a certain job? That seems misguided,” he says.

Focus on the professional and personal improvement you’ll invariably experience over the course of a career—and savor those victories.

He urges people to have a more realistic understanding of what a workplace is, telling Lifehacker: “A job is the work you do and the people you work with and the culture of the place you work. Some of that you can seek out, some of it you can control, but a lot of it just happens organically.”

A dream can be a motivational tool that helps you embark on a path that you might enjoy. But when actualizing a dream or achieving perfection becomes the driving force behind a career, “you’ll never get there,” McCammon says.

Instead, focus on the professional and personal improvement you’ll invariably experience over the course of a career—and savor those victories.

Living the dream

“There are way too many variables,” in any one career for it to mirror one’s subjective notions of a dream. But, as McCammon says, “that’s what makes a career so interesting and fun and fulfilling. That you can look back and see how you adapted your vision to take advantage of all the opportunities that you could never expect.”

You’re a person, not your job.

Moreover, it’s most important to understand that all jobs suffer from monotony and their own particular headaches. This can be especially disheartening. Especially if you do what you love for a living and find that your burning passion is now little more than a vocation riddled with emails, Zoom meetings, and daily deadlines.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t let your passion dictate your work. But learning how to separate your full-time job from your human need for fulfillment will serve you well throughout the course of a career. You’re a person, not your job.


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How Employers Can Keep 2021 From Being The Year of ‘I Quit’


These are the narratives coming out from employees.

“There are too many options for flexibility and remote working. If my company is unwilling to be open to it, then I’ll look for a new job.”

Someone else says, “I’m extremely burnt out and don’t know how much more I can take.” 

Another says, “I’m at the point of quitting.” 

There is no way to know if this person is burnout or depressed, the statement says, “I’m just keeping my head down and doing my work, but I’m already looking for something else.” 

Last year revealed what workplace cultures are not just about modern offices, jeans, snacks and happy hours, which are perks that gets people excited. Unfortunately, perks don’t create loyalty.

Employees are looking to see how companies are going to fix disengagement, burnout, and redesign of workplace culture and employee experience.  But if this is not on a company’s agenda, such is going to find themselves with an expensive turnover problem.

And the cost of replacing an employee is not cheap, it can be up to two times another employee’s salary. While on average, it takes another nine months for a new employee to reach full productivity. The tendency then is that, companies will face astronomical costs over the next year on hiring and training if they don’t make the investment now in retaining employees. 

So, what are employees looking for that companies need to prioritize? 

Embrace remote and flexible work

This is the most sought-after benefit and one of the top priorities for people – the ability to have flexible work options. This includes a hybrid of remote and office work; and the ability to work from anywhere and with flexible hours.

Cut down on meetings

People are experiencing meeting fatigue. Organizations should try implementing a meeting-free day to allow people time to focus and get work done.

Prioritize development

One of the top ways to retain employees is to provide them with means by which they can grow with the company. People want development and career opportunities, but there is a limit to what they can self create, or fund from out of pocket.

The pandemic has permanently shifted the workplace, and it is exciting. Those willing to evolve and create something new will be the top places to work. 


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What Is Your Reason for Leaving Your Job?

Giving your reasons for leaving a job helps interviewers determine what satisfaction and engagement at work looks like to you. It can also shed light on what your long-term career plan is and what you want to get out of a new role.

1. More responsibility and better career growth. Wanting to develop your skills can be one. Give examples of the kinds of skills you want to build on and tangible ways you’d like to go about doing it.

2. A career change. A new direction professionally, to find interesting and meaningful work.

3. Company reorganization. It’s helpful to give some examples as to why the new structure isn’t working for you. And what you’ve done to try and improve things and what you’d change. 

4. Better work-life balance. Try and focus on what you’re seeking for in the long term, whether it’s remote work, a four-day work week or flexible hours.

5. Relocation. It is good for you to explain why you’re making the move.

Avoid launching into a barrage of complaints about your former workplace, colleagues or manager.



The Great Turnover Tsunami – How to Adapt as Employer of Choice

Turnover is happening, regardless of whether or not you’re retaining your best team-members. 2021 is seeing a churn in the marketplace. In fact, a staggering 51% of American employees are seeking new opportunities. Therefore, millions of some of the most highly valuable workers will be available. It will become imperative that your company becomes the top choice for these top candidates.

Here are some of the things that your organization can do, and be well positioned to ride the great turnover tsunami.

Flexible and Remote Work

If there’s one thing people learned last year, it’s that the majority of work can be done outside of the office. Work-from-home options are becoming a must when it comes to top choice employers, pandemic or not, great turnover tsunami. or not.

Working remotely can be a slippery slope. But you still have to be an advocate for a healthy work/life balance. A hybrid work model can come to the rescue. It will help ensure continuous relationship building beyond virtual platforms interactions. 

One of the biggest factors of turnover is monotony, which can lead to employee ennui, stagnancy, and dissatisfaction. And employees are looking for modern-day, realistic workplaces. They want you to break free from conventional work standards and think outside the box. So, think about more open, flexible work environments such as “Hot-desking” and “Hoteling.” They are great ways to keep people from feeling like they’re chained to their desks.

Hot-desking refers to the practice of working at whatever desk or office space is unoccupied and available. Hoteling has employees reserving a workstation via checking in and checking out. In both cases, workspaces aren’t assigned. This gives people the sense of some control over where and how they get their jobs done. This allows for flexibility, freedom, and autonomy.

Competitive Compensation

Ensure that your employees’ salaries or pay rates are keeping up with the rising trends. To make the total compensation package competitive, offer excellent health benefits, and include mental health where possible.

Provide them with professional development opportunities. The majority of workers today prefer lucrative performance development opportunities to minor pay increases dispensed overtime. 

People are interested in being experts in their own fields and masters of their own wheelhouses rather than a jack of all trades. Foster that growth, make them feel valued and respected.


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Flexible (Even Unlimited) PTO

Paid time off (PTO) is another form of compensation, where employees can accrue certain amount of days. Offering unlimited PTO is one way to keep your workplace flexible. It is ok not to assign a limited number of days, but allowing employees to take as much time off as they need within reasonable constraints.

Flexible and unlimited paid time off can help heal toxic work cultures. Especially where employees feel more “loyal” and “valuable” than others by not taking their much needed days. This can lead to burn out and resentment.

Diverse and Inclusive Teams

Companies with diverse and inclusive teams have been shown to have a higher rate of employee retention and outperform other companies. In the modern-day workplace, leaders should stay culturally informed, and consider inclusivity outside of just making sure their teams are “diverse.” They should be thinking of what D&I means when it comes to adaptability, progressive solutions, and team-building.

This should also be visible in the diverse representation of the leadership teams, and how underrepresented groups are being rewarded, highlighted, and promoted?

Company Visibility

Beyond your business website, and Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter handles, your company should be ‘live’ in community engagements. This is probably the number one way to attract talent—simply being seen. You as a company should be looking for events and engagements on a regular basis to get your leaders “out there” as representatives of your organization. Also, trust your employees to be the image and expert representation of your brand. 

Getting your leaders and employees out in the industry also provides them unique opportunities to collaborate with other teams, share and trade innovative ideas, and simply show up as the top leaders of your field.



Aspirational Six Hour Four Day Workweek

In an era of heightened work-related angst, stress and pressure, there is an emerging movement to shorten the workday and week. Sanna Marin, the prime minister of Finland, is one of the high-profile proponents of shortening the amount of time people work.

Marin said, “I believe people deserve to spend more time with their families, loved ones, hobbies and other aspects of life, such as culture. This could be the next step for us in working life.” 

New Worklife Balance Ideas For Making ‘Work’ Work

These new worklife balance ideas have been compiled as a guide. The guide profiles promising and innovative practices from 297 employers that are creating effective and flexible workplaces to make work “work” better for both the bottom line and for employees.

The drive for flexible workplace before year 2020 was the desire to create effective work environments. These are workplaces that are conducive to increased productivity, innovation, creativity and engagement. Not the all time blast of working from home or working from anywhere that COVID has engineered.

“… when the assumption that everyone needs to be always available was collectively challenged, not only could individuals take time off, but their work actually benefited.”

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Families and Work Institute (FWI) have also found that the effort to create an “Effective Workplace” no longer means simply offering flexible arrangements – although that is one component. As businesses return back to the offices or practice a hybrid of working some days at the office and some at home, they still have to ensure effective ‘workplaces.’

Criteria Of Effective Workplaces

Businesses look at six different elements in their pursuit of an effective workplace and one that offers employees work-life balance. These six criteria of Effective Workplaces include both work and non-work factors that impacts employee work-life balance, wellness and mental wellbeing. All of them benefits both the employee and the employer.


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