This is the second post in a series answering the question What are three things you know 100% to be true? Last week I wrote about three things I know to be true about running. This week I’m tackling happiness at work.
Let’s get to it!
One: A short commute is worth its weight in gold.
The shortest commute I’ve ever had was a total of ten minutes in a car every day. Five minutes to work, five minutes home. The longest commute was three hours. One hour in the morning and two to get home.
Saying ‘three hours a day’ out loud is bad enough. Then you start doing the math.
Three hours a day is fifteen hours a week. That’s sixty to seventy five hours a month. In a five week month that’s over three full days in a car. In one year that’s seven hundred and eighty hours which is 32.5 days.
Y’all, for every year I worked at that job I spent over a month sitting in a car in Houston traffic.
GUHHH. *shudders, curls into fetal position*
No. . . Just, no.
A long commute might mean a higher paycheck, but a short commute gives me something much more precious: time. Time to do whatever the hell I want, even if that means sitting on the couch with a book and a cup of tea.
The luxury of time increases my job satisfaction by a factor of roughly (does quick count of fingers, toes, eyeballs and motes of dust) ten bajillion times. Now that I recognize the value in a short commute I will never again work more than twenty minutes from home.
Two: Care about what you do.
We’ve all heard the advice “find a job you’re passionate about and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Whoever first said this, bless them, their hearts were in the right place, but we didn’t get much guidance after that initial statement. I mean, the whole ‘never working a day in your life’ bit sounds great, but how do you find your ‘passion’?
I could send you to the self-help section of, oh, every bookstore on the planet to answer this question, but in the interest of expediency let’s just go ahead and define the word passion here.
Passion is not exuberantly loving every moment of every task in every day. Passion is simply caring about what you do.
In her article The Ugly Career Game That’s Hurting Your Happiness, career adviser J. T. O’Donnell says, “If you’re doing the work because it matters to you, then you don’t mind making the effort. More importantly, you don’t care what anyone else thinks. Impressing yourself is the key to career satisfaction.”
If you care about what you do and spend more time impressing yourself, *pinky swear*, you’ll be happier at work. If, however, you don’t care about what you do, you have deeper questions to ask yourself.
Three: People are more than their employment.
When you see the same people in the same setting every day of every week for years on end it’s easy to think of them only as the job they hold and their function in relation to yours.
It’s easy, but it’s wrong.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming the person you see in the office is just a secretary, or just a manager or just the facilities guy. No one is ‘just’ anything.
I work with a lab technician who, forty hours a week, smocks up to go to work in a clean room. In his off hours? He a drummer in an 80’s hair band.
Another guy I work with functions as a diplomat between the company I work for and other companies we partner with. In his off time? He rides in a Christian motorcycle gang.
I work with administrative assistants who love to cook, property management professionals who teach spin classes at their gym, and engineers who run marathons.
Take the time to get to know the people you work with and what they like to do outside of work. This makes everyone easier to relate to which, in turn, makes working together that much happier. Not to mention it makes Christmas parties a whole hell of a lot more interesting when you have something to talk about besides work.
So that’s it! Those are the three things I know 100% to be true about happiness at work.
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