Being happy at work matters

If you’re anything like me, work takes up a significant portion of your day. That’s why it’s important (crucial!) that our needs be met at work; and it’s no wonder we feel unhappy when they’re not.

When our needs are met, work can be fulfilling.

Doing meaningful work, feeling appreciated, maintaining a healthy separation between work responsibilities and personal relaxation, and having autonomy over our work are all ways that can boost our satisfaction and make us feel energized by our jobs. Personally, I get immense satisfaction from being introduced to new ideas, being able to share what I’m learning, and getting some intellectual stimulation.

On the flip side, there are numerous ways work can leave us feeling unsatisfied and depleted. When we find ourselves pulling long hours, feeling undervalued and overwhelmed, engaging in meaningless tasks, experiencing conflicts, or lacking control over our work, it’s easy to become dissatisfied and drained.

Since our job satisfaction directly correlates with how well our needs are met and values are honoured, having clarity on what’s important helps.

If you’re a career seeker wondering which direction you should take, or actively reflecting on how to enhance your current work, try out the “perfect day at work” exercise.

The “perfect day” at work

A “great day” at work would be a better framing for this, as I don’t think the aim should be “perfect”. But, you get the gist.

Ask yourself any or all of these questions:

  1. Where do you live?
  2. What is your morning routine?
  3. How far is your commute to work?
  4. What is the atmosphere at work? What does the culture feel and look like?
  5. How much flexibility do you have at work?
  6. How is your day structured?
  7. Are you leading others? Part of a team? Working alone?
  8. What is the overall nature of your work? How would you describe it to your teenage nephew or an acquaintance?
  9. What are you working on?
  10. What do you talk about with your co-workers and clients?
  11. What gives you satisfaction?
  12. What are you learning at work?
  13. When does your workday end?

Caveat: By inviting you to reflect on the above, I’m not suggesting you go after your “dream job.” Just as I don’t subscribe to the notion of “finding your passion,” I also don’t believe in dream jobs. The purpose of considering these questions is to cultivate greater self-awareness about what factors contribute to your satisfaction and contentment in your career, so you can explore ways to incorporate more of those elements into your professional life.

Credit: Inspiration for this post came from this download at

If you’d like to experience more joy at work and in your career, I can help. Reach out to me by email to find out how at isabeauiqbal(at)gmail(dot)com.


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