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Op/Ed

A challenge to redefine what it means to be happy in your career

If you aren’t working in your “dream job,” does that mean you can never be happy and content? Let’s rethink what happiness truly means.

woman smiling and being happy

When my kids were little, I remember thinking only one thing: I wanted them to be content as they became an adult. Sure, I had hopes that they would be successful in their chosen career, but ultimately, I just wanted for my kids to be happy.

It’s a good thing I didn’t make plans for them. I don’t think I ever would have guessed that my oldest would join the Army to learn Russian, but that’s what went down. Today, she’s working in customer support in Dallas. Again, not what I ever would have expected. But you know what? She seems to be content in her job. They seem like a great organization, and they notice her. I couldn’t ask for anything more for her.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Jay Shetty, a motivational speaker and vlogger, tells the story of a teacher who asked her students “what do you want to be when you grow up?” She got many of the answers you’d expect, a dancer, a teacher, a doctor.

One student answered, “happy”.

The teacher thought that the student missed the point, but the student challenged the teacher to reconsider. What’s your definition of success?

Some people get lucky and work in their chosen field, while others spend thousands of dollars on a college degree and can’t find a job in their industry. Maybe it’s because they can’t find one of the few museum curator jobs that are out there. It could be that they didn’t enjoy teaching. If you aren’t working in your “dream job,” does that mean you can never be happy and content?

Changing your attitude

I always thought that being a writer meant that I had to be an author. I’m not sure when my point-of-view changed. Recently, I realized I was doing exactly what I wanted to do.

I am a writer. I have great clients. I live in a nice town where I’m making friends. I’m really fortunate in that I am able to write and work from home.

Sometimes, it’s easy to get swayed by the opportunities you missed and how you aren’t where you thought you’d be. Our careers are part of who we are, but they aren’t the end-all of our world. I think a lot of us feel dissatisfied with our job because it wasn’t what we imagined.

I’d like to challenge you to think your life overall. Maybe you aren’t in the career path you planned, but what do you have?

I have two kids and a son-in-law, who are productive members of society, and both of whom seem to enjoy spending time with me. I’m in a fantastic church that accepts me for who I am. My clients are dependable and provide me with plenty of work, and I’m reasonably healthy.

What about you? Maybe you aren’t who you thought you’d be when you grew up. What do you have that makes life meaningful? If you don’t think you’re happy because you aren’t in the right job, maybe it’s time to rethink your definition of happy.

Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.

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