My wife has almost always been happy at work. She’s naturally happy, giving, and funny. In most all of her jobs in a varied career in the health care industry, she can be the down to earth, helpful, and humorous person that she is in her personal life. The only time where she wasn’t really herself was during a health care consulting job while we lived in Washington, DC. It was one of those jobs that demanded a level of self-seriousness that prevented her from being her authentic self. “We are high powered consultants in Washington, DC. We don’t have time for levity and we are about making profits.” That didn’t suit her.
Now she is finishing up her doctorate at UCONN and working as a professor for Southern Connecticut. As a professor, she’ll be able to be herself. Her students are lucky because they will laugh a lot – she is really funny! – and caring.
I recently was working with a career counseling client who said something that I’ve heard before but he put it well: “There is work guy Max and there is the real Max. Only about 50% overlap. That’s probably why I’m unhappy 50% of the time.”
My own work history mirrors this sentiment. When I was a criminal prosecutor in Philadelphia, I was happy about 80% of the time and that was about what I shared of “the real me.” When I was a federal prosecutor in Washington, DC, I was the real me about 60% of the time and when I was in private practice in large law firms, I was the real me about 20% of the time. The percentages of authenticity and happiness match quite well.
Find a career where you can be you. Be happy nearly 100% of the time.