As always, I’m trying to bring as many perspectives about work happiness to you that I possibly can. Jonathan Fields of Career Renegade is a friend who I met at SxSW and he is also a wonderful writer. I reviewed his book and took away a ton of great ideas. He’s a serial entrepreneur and that’s why I asked him for an interview. Many of you may not want to start your own business, but all of you are entrepreneurs, whether you are working for a company or yourself. It’s up to you to make your career come alive.
That’s why I love this interview. Jonathan is always bubbling with energy and concepts that we could all use to improve our working lives.
Karl: How important is work happiness to you?
Jonathan: Mission critical. Your work makes up such a massive part of your life, to strive for anything less than optimum joy from what you do seems just plain silly. I work a ton but it feels like I barely work, because I have so much fun doing it. Does that mean every second is that way? Not a chance. But a solid chunk of my work time is. And that’s priceless, because it not only makes me happy at work, it flows through to every other aspect of my life, especially my relationships with my wife and little girl.
What is one activity that makes you happy at work?
The process of creation. I come alive when I’m given the space and the resources to create meaningful output. Put me in an all operations or production environment and I wither.
How do you maintain balance between your working and non-working life?
I don’t. Balance is a fiction. Time and energy allocation is like a pendulum that keeps swinging through that mythical center point many people call balance. Problem is, you can’t just wave your hand and make the pendulum stop swinging and say, “viola, now I’m in balance!” Life doesn’t work that way.
The more realistic approach to balance is to acknowledge that you are in a constant state of time and energy flux. The pendulum is always in motion and your job is to work to understand why it’s swinging to one side or the other, assess the impact and set up regular feedback mechanisms that’ll tell you when the negative impact outweighs the positive so you can do what you need to do to get the pendulum swinging back the other way.
What is your favorite stress reliever?
Anything with my wife and daughter.
Do you work on being happy at work?
I’m in an unusual position in that understanding the process of being happy at work IS part of my work. So, I spend a solid chunk of my time exploring what makes me and others come alive.
If you are feeling down, what do you do to lift your spirits?
Play with my family, exercise, meditate, walk in the woods, draw, paint, play music. Tons of things, really.
What is your biggest detriment to work happiness?
Focus. I am passionate about so many things, I’m often drawn in many different directions at once and that leads to across the board stagnation…and lack of progress kind of sucks. We’re made to be happiest when we are striving and seeing movement. So, I’m doing a lot of work right now trying to cull my active projects and focus in on a smaller number.
What do you do to stay motivated and productive?
Make sure my work is wrapped around what makes me come alive. Do that, and motivation pretty becomes a non-issue.
If you could give work happiness advice to someone just starting their career in 140 characters or less (Twitter style) what would it be?
Absorb yourself in activities and relationships that make you come alive, then build your living and lifestyle around those fundamentals
If you want to take small steps to build on your work happiness then follow me on Twitter (@workhappynow).
Check out Jonathan’s other blog Awake at the Wheel. Where he covers personal growth, health and happiness.
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