Are You Choosing What Makes You Happy?

Are you happy in your life and work? You don’t need to be ecstatic all the time. But, if something about your life or work doesn’t make you happy, maybe it’s time to change.

For me, this is a question about:

  • Seeing my current reality in my job and my life
  • Developing options for where I want to go
  • Making decisions about what will make me happiest

Sometimes, that happy is about going to more movies. Sometimes, that happy is about the right shoes. Sometimes, that happy is about the work I do.

Are you optimizing your life to give you the most happiness?

If you have not considered this question yet, ask yourself, “Am I choosing what makes me happy?” For me, it’s contextual.

For work, I need to learn and have control over my daily work. I like having the flexibility to learn and provide value to my clients. That’s part of my personal mission: to learn and do reasonable things that work. Sure, sometimes I have what I might consider grunt work. But not often.

If you take a look at what you do, at home and work, are you doing things that make you happy, or at least, have the potential to make you happy? If not, what can you do about it?

In the past, when I’ve looked at what I did, I followed this approach:

  • Gather all the work (or tasks) I do. Write all of it down.
  • Look at how I feel about it. Label things as positive if I like them, negative if I don’t like them, and zero if I don’t care one way or the other.
  • Look at the things that I don’t like. Should I be doing that work? Should I delegate it or outsource it? What should I do with it.
  • Is there something on that list that gives me great joy, that I look forward to doing? If so, can I spend more time on it? Or, do more like it?
  • How much is zero? I tend to either like or not like what I do. I don’t tend to be neutral about anything. If I am neutral, can I transform this work so I will like it more, or delegate it or outsource it?

If you’ve read Manage Your Project Portfolio, you will recognize this approach. You are looking at your project portfolio—whether that portfolio is what you do at home or work.

Back when I was the primary carpool driver, I knew I didn’t like it. I also knew the driving wasn’t forever. That made it easier to do.

When my daughter was a senior in high school, we bought her an old and cheap car.  I had been the carpool driver for 15 years, and I was ready to stop. We had paid for someone to drive her to and from gymnastics for the previous couple of years. But, that wasn’t enough. I needed to get out of the driving business.

We knew she was a safe driver and able to drive herself everywhere. One chore—one I disliked—evaporated from my life. We traded a little money for more of my happiness.

Sometimes, you trade money for the chance for happiness. Sometimes, you decide what work makes more sense to you. Sometimes, you reassess if the people you spend time with make you happy.

Dear adaptable problem solvers, that is the question this week: Are you choosing what makes you happy?

4 thoughts on “Are You Choosing What Makes You Happy?

  1. Cecile

    Thanks Johanna for this article. I agree that we should spend more time thinking about our own happiness. I would add the notion of “balance” in your analysis. If I understand why I am doing this particular thing that I don’t like and if the long-term value/feeling is positive, then it’s easier to accept the temporary negative task.

    I often do a list with the positive and negative points of a situation or work or anything I need to analyse. Then I try to measure the importance of each one. Sometimes it could help make a decision.

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