Life happens, and . . . are you making a living or making an impact?

Life happens, and . . .


Recent studies show that over 50% of Americans are dissatisfied with their job. Given that most of us spend an average of 47 hours per week at work and an average of 5 hours per week commuting to work, that’s a lot of time for over half the population to be unhappy.

This startling reality begs the following questions: Why does half the population smile instead of sneer on their commute? Why are some employees motivated rather that morose on Monday?

I believe the distinguishing factor between those who are lit up and those who are burned out is their ability to connect their vocation to their values.  Work is not the curse…unfulfilling work is the curse. There comes a time in life when we realize that simply working to make a living can be empty and unfulfilling. Unless we are working to make an impact, we risk ending up disillusioned, discouraged, and dissatisfied.

If you find yourself dreading Monday morning as you are driving home Friday evening, then I want to offer you 3 simple steps designed to enhance your personal and professional satisfaction.

  1. Alter your Attitude

While we may not be able to control our circumstances, we can always control our actions and our attitude. 19th century psychologist William James made the astute observation that, “The greatest discovery of my life is that man can alter his circumstances by altering his attitude.” If you choose to approach your work as a contribution to the greater good, you will automatically elevate your tasks. I recently read about a man who found a way to view cleaning toilets in airplanes as more than simply janitorial drudgery. He saw his job as critical to providing passengers with an exceptional experience whether they were flying for business or pleasure. He began to see his role as vital to the overall success of the airline. How can you elevate your view of your job?

  1. Explore what Energizes You

Given that we spend almost half our waking hours in work related activities, it is critical we find ways to reenergize. We often mistake entertainment for recreation. Recreation re-creates energy. The average American spends 5 hours per day watching TV. We choose to passively eat chips and drink sodas while watching Paula Dean and Survivor. Is it any wonder that 2/3 of Americans are overweight? What are you doing to refuel and refresh when you are not at work?

  1. Evaluate your Associations

We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. If the majority of your time is spent with those who complain about their job and their life, then you might want to consider creating a new reference group. According to social psychologist Dr. David McCleland of Harvard, the people with whom you habitually associate determine as much as 95% of your success or failure in life. Do your associations encourage or discourage you?

If you are tired of feeling dispassionate about your work, then consider implementing at least one of the suggestions listed to infuse your workday with positive energy. Change for the sake of change is not going to help you. Change for the purpose of growth may be uncomfortable; however, it will always propel you forward in life and work.

Businessman, author, and speaker Nido Qubein asserted, “Whether you are a success or failure in life has little to do with your circumstances; it has much more to do with your choices.” What choices do you need to make so you can stop working to make a living and start working to make an impact?