You deserve to be happy at work
February 18, 2015

You deserve to be happy at work

by Brian de Haaff

Last updated: February 2024

Recently, I published an article on a controversial topic: You Will Never Find Work/Life Balance. So many of us have grown up trying to perfectly split our time at the office and outside it with friends and family. It is an impossibility. So, I suggested that we should forget about it and focus on “sustainable happiness” instead.

Life is work, and work is life. They cannot be separated since we toil for everything that is meaningful to us — including our relationships with those we love. Everything worth having in life involves work.

When I finished writing the article, I was proud of it. I believed that it was true to my beliefs and what I have aspired to achieve as the CEO of Aha! I also acknowledged that each of us has our own struggles and not everyone is in a position to pursue happiness every day.

Over 70,000 people read the post, and more than 270 commented. About 70 percent of people shared my perspective that it is time to change the conversation. But some did not, and I appreciated what they had to say. The following comments are representative of the counterpoints that were typically shared:

One cannot be sustainably happy if they are worked to death. Unless one is a workaholic and gets sole enjoyment out of life from their work.

Personally, work/life balance is a legitimate concept if you do not have control over your current career…I guess I am saying that this concept makes sense to someone who can choose the career they enjoy doing. But many out there are not afforded that luxury.

If you are reading this, there is a good chance you are at work. It is likely that you have felt stress this week, performed a task that you did not enjoy, and helped someone who annoys you. Some people might even believe that that they are “being worked to death” by a cruel boss.

It is true that there are nasty employers. That is obvious. But even if you are unhappy at work, only you can change your direction unless you are going to bet on luck to save you. You do have control and you have a few choices as you look ahead:

Accept it

It is true that not everyone can change their professional circumstances exactly when they want to. It is equally true that some would rather just not try. If you are unhappy at work and choose not to apply for new roles or improve your current role, try to reset your expectations. Sustainable happiness is earned through hard work. If you are unwilling to actively pursue it, then positive change is unlikely to occur and it might be best to stop expecting it to.

Change it

If you are unhappy at work, look deeply at the situation. Who or what is making you miserable? Once you identify the root of the problem, you can take specific steps to solve it. Maybe you have a great manager, but your current responsibilities are not stimulating enough. Together, you can design a career path that works towards a different role that aligns with your interests.

Leave it

You can always do your best — but you cannot always change other people. If you have done what you can to accept or change your situation and are still unhappy, then it really is best to move on. It is ok to leave a role that makes you feel unfulfilled for a job that better fits your purpose. You may not be the CEO of your company, but you can take control of your own happiness.

You have the right to be happy and work for an employer who cares about your well-being. If this is not your reality, then it is up to you to go find it.

You have the chance to sustain your own happiness regardless of whether you are at home or in the office. The key is to realize that you have more power than you might think and that happiness is something you need to work for.

What have you done to sustain happiness at work?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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