I don't have to show you the math of how much time we spend at work, thinking about work, or doing work. The amount is increasingly growing as work and life lines continue to blur. One common denominator, however, is that we all want to be happy while we're doing that work.
But are we? Are you, really?
I came across an interesting prompt on this topic from an unlikely source. It turns out that social media giant Facebook recently revealed (to LinkedIn editors) its single most frequently asked interview question:
"On your very best day at work--the day you come home and think you have the best job in the world--what did you do that day?"
I'm sure the Silicon Valley stalwart asks this because it wants to ensure that the prospective employee would be a good fit; that they'd be happy doing what work at Facebook actually amounts to. For me, it immediately triggered a related question for a different audience (my readers):
Are you doing enough of what you love? Or are you just doing?
I asked myself this question toward the waning years of my corporate career. I realized the very best days at work were when I was doing work on my side hustle and not at my "real" job. The days when I was writing my first book or using vacation time to give an inspiring keynote to people who needed to hear what I had to say. During those times when I felt fully valued and like I was creating and contributing something unique and uniquely me to the world.
The point is that I came to realize I was spending far too little time on the things I really loved to do. My very best days at work weren't really at work.
I don't share my realization to jolt you into thinking that becoming an entrepreneur is the only way to do what you love, absolutely not. Whether it leads to leaving corporate, changing careers, pursuing a calling, or just making a few changes, the question I ask you to ask of yourself is the same. "Am I doing enough of what really makes me happy--of what I was meant to be doing?"
I'm asking you to work on your life, not in it.
I get it. There are bills to pay, expectations to live up to, fears that would have to be conquered. But what if you set your number one priority (when it comes to your work, at least) as simply being the happiest you can be through your work in the amount of time you have on this planet?
Start with that, and we'll work on the rest later. And to start that, start with the most important first step of all--clarity. What truly makes you happy at or in your work? Be brutally honest and answer what you feel, not what you're expected to feel. Here are some prompt questions to ask yourself:
- What would I do for free?
- When do I find myself using my superpowers?
- What am I doing when time seems to fly by?
- What am I doing when I feel most valued?
- What would others say I was meant to do?
- If I knew I wouldn't fail, what would I be doing?
Maybe the answers to these questions produce a mere tweak to the job you're in so you can spend more time doing what you love. Maybe they produce a confirmation that you're already doing it. Maybe they cause you to blow up the status quo and hit a radical reset button.
Wherever you land, know that the pursuit, doing more of what you love, remains elusive until you're lucid. Then it takes bravery, faith, and conviction.
But know that the destination is worth the discomfort.