Career Happiness: Is Your Work An Extension of Who You Are?

Careers have a way of shaping our identity. Quite often, this is not good. One of my friends works in a financial entity in Fairfield, Connecticut. I’ve seen him change over the years. He’s now a “financial risk guy.” That’s ok if it was extension of his core being.  But it is not. He was meant to be a coach or some other type of leader of men.  His old happy way of being has been replaced by a pessimistic cloud. 25 yeas of evaluating assets for worst case scenarios and then arguing about the issue will do that.
I had this worry when I practiced law in private practice.  The partners were almost all nasty. Could it be that law attracted a disproportional number of nasty people? Perhaps. But the cultivation of nastiness stemmed from years of arguing, throwing sharp elbows, and work stress. Since young associates were far nicer than law partners and since some of those associates would become partner, the most reasonable conclusion is that either the nasty ones made partner or that these associate to partner types became nasty due to private practice.  The truth is somewhere in between.
As for my own work happiness, I met one one of my oldest friends for lunch recently in Stamford. He paid me the highest compliment when he said: “at your core, you have always been a counselor giving advice to help people in a practical way. It is amazing that you get to do that for work.”
Go find a career that is an extension of you.  It nearly guarantees work happiness.