Have you come to believe that your job is something you tolerate to fund the rest of your life? Have you resigned yourself to the hopeless perspective that work can never be fun? If so, you are internally dying every day. To live that many hours out of your week in a state of hopelessness slowly infects the rest of your life like a disease. Disney’s The Incredibles vividly shows this reality.
You may feel career hopelessness if your work conflicts with your core values. When Mr. Incredible was employed at the insurance company, his daily work directly conflicted with his values. Here was a person who wanted to save people, and he was forced to deny people what was rightfully owed to them. When looking for a career, it’s important to understand your values and your non-negotiables. If you are violating what you feel to be right down in your core, you will never be happy with your career, and it will seep into other areas of your life.
This disease of hopelessness cannot be isolated to only affect you at work. As much as we try to leave work at work, it spills into the rest of our lives. Even if you are great at not thinking about problems, reading e-mails or answering calls, how you feel about your work will subconsciously impact how you feel at home. When you are in a job you aren’t happy in, it’s going to be difficult to be positive at home. When Mr. Incredible was at the insurance company, his home life was more rocky. He was more easily irritated and even lost his temper. His self-esteem was impacted, and therefore his relationship with his wife was strained. When he left the insurance company and started freelance hero work, he immediately had a self-esteem boost because he was working in the area of his strengths. He felt he had a purpose again, and it seeped into the rest of his life. He was suddenly more engaged at home, the romance returned to his marriage, and his outlook on life changed completely.
The disease is contagious. Your work satisfaction impacts more than just you. When you hate your job, that negativity seeps into others’ lives. If you have children, they start to believe work is just something to be endured. If your co-workers enjoy their work, they question whether there is something wrong with them. If they don’t, then discontent multiples (since misery loves company), the culture of the company decreases, and profits soon follow. If you love your job, you inspire those around you. It sparks hope in others, and those around you begin to feel they, too, could find something they enjoy. Your children learn that there can be meaning and satisfaction derived from their future career.
Fortunately, this is a curable disease. The cure is working in the area of your strengths and finding a job that fits your core values. When you leave work feeling you have contributed to a bigger purpose and that you did quality work, you will feel more alive and satisfied.
Jana Axline is Chief Project Officer at Project Genetics and the author of Becoming You. Through her leadership musings, she inspires audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Project Genetics.