Huffington Post has published a list of 25 best jobs. Such lists are always subjective. They also reflect a group of people, not one person in his or her job. I think a good job is one where you are doing the right thing in the right place with the right people. If you are happy at work, you have a great job.
If you are looking for a new job, you might want to consider how a company is rated by its current employers. Last month, The Chicago Tribune published its annual list of best places to work in metro Chicago. This list offers great information on small, medium, and large employers. I recommend that you follow these companies and jobs they have available. Salary is always an important factor, but it’s just as important to be at a place where workers are happy. Check out the Tribune’s list, and you might find an employer who will make your new year very happy.
As newspaper business sections have shrunk or disappeared, I’ve taken to reading the website 24/7 Wall Street for news about the economy. Today the website features an interesting story on the top 10 states where people hate going to work. It’s also a national problem. The article cites a Gallup Poll which claims that less than a third of Americans are engaged in their work. So it seems that most American are unhappy at work.
Many clients come to me because they feel disengaged and want to find a new job or change careers. Being happy at work is usually not an accident. People who are happy at work know what they want to do and find a place where they can do it. This kind of job search takes time and patience. Too many people scramble to find any job. Then they are miserable. Be fair to yourself. Find a job that makes you happy.
Several pages in today’s Chicago Sun-Times were devoted to honoring Roger Ebert, who died yesterday at age 70. One especially touching editorial talked about how Ebert was lucky to do work that he loved. In part, it was luck. However, it was also a matter of skill and good career management.
Too many people float from job to job without asking the important question: What do I want to do? When I coach clients who are thinking about changing careers, I ask them to think about those skills that they most enjoy using on the job. These skills are best thought of as “gifts.” The better we can align where we work with our gifts, the more likely we are to be happy on the job.
After you define your gifts, the next step is to identify positions that require those special skills. Then start to identify companies that are potential employers and begin to search job boards. The job search is never easy, especially for people trying to change careers. If your goal is to be happy at work, make the effort. Employers do not care if you are happy as long as you do your job. You have to be responsible for your own happiness at work. If you’re not happy, start looking – now.
If you want to be happy at work, you need to align your work with skills you like to use. I call these gifts. We all have skills that let us do things that don’t make us happy. Such skills are needed to do any kind of work. However, gifts are those skills that bring us the most satisfaction and joy. For example, a surgeon enjoys the physical and mechanical skills that are involved in operations. Conversely, a psychologist's gifts are listening and motivating change.
Think about what you do that really makes you happy at work, the kind of activities that make you forget about quitting time or breaking for lunch. Once you have identified your gifts, you’ve taken the first big step to being happy at work.
(On Sundays, Career Calling looks at intersections of work and life which are not necessarily related to jobs, layoffs, and unemployment statistics.)
Today is the Super Bowl, which has become an unofficial national holiday. When you think about it, this game generates work. Not just the passing and tackling on the field, but also in kitchens all across the country where people are preparing for parties. Stores have to stock extra pallets of beer, pop, and snacks. Some of the most interesting work on this day will be done by advertisers who are buying very expensive commercial time to put their products in front of the largest TV audience of the year.
Put all this aside, let’s talk about music. When I was much younger, Super Bowl halftime shows were milk and cookies with sugary feature acts like Up with People. Over the years, the halftime shows grew more elaborate and staged as mini-concerts. This trend crashed with Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction.” That’s when the NFL chose to be safe by booking rock bands that had passed the greatest test of acceptability – being played on classic rock radio stations. The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, U2, and Tom Petty have all played during half time of the “big game.”
This year the act will be the Who. I grew up a big fan of this band. They were angry rebels. Now, like the Stones, they are a nostalgia act. Roger Daltrey might still sing, “I hope I die before I get old,” but he’s doing so as sixty-something rock star. Pete Townshend’s hearing is so profoundly damaged that he can only play a few concerts each year. They are old now, but we have to admire them for continuing to work, especially the effort they make for charity.
The same can be said for Mose Allison, who at age 82, still cheers the hearts of fans with his bluesy southern jazz. Today, while most of America is being entertained by the Who, Colts, and Saints, Allison will be playing three sets at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago’s South Loop. The Who covered Allison’s Young Man’s Blues on their classic album (what a CD was before everything went MP3), Live at Leeds. Allison’s version was whimsical and poppy; the Who’s snarling and dangerous.
On this Sunday, this Sabbath day, in Miami and Chicago, fans will be treated to the music of three men who could be retired (though I bet Mose has not banked as much as Roger and Pete). Why do they go on? They love their what they do. A week ago, I wrote about the Dalai Lama who describes himself as “doing nothing.” I’m sure great musicians feel the same way when they are on stage. They are in the minute, loving what they do. As the great jazz standard goes, “nice work if you can get it.”
To see a video of the Who singing Young Man's Blues, click here.
To listen to an MP3 of Mose Allison singing Young Man's Blue, click here
To hear Billie Holiday sing Nice Work, click here.
Whether or not you enjoy the game or the music, enjoy this day!