People who know me see that I am kind of obsessed about making more people happy at work. Everything I do, two businesses I started, my writing, my speaking, my teaching and my consultancy work all boils down to making people happier at work (paid or unpaid). I thought I should share my story of how and why I got so interested in this topic.
I was working in one of those beautiful modern offices in one of the skyscrapers in Istanbul. Those eye-catching buildings that made you think you would be more important if you get a chance to slide your badge to work there every day. The office, the people and the pay made you feel like you accomplished something important. It was a Fortune 100 company after all. So all looked wonderful from the outside and on paper. I did everything as I was told. Went to good schools, worked hard, studied at one of the top universities and got this amazing job that gave me a great lifestyle. I needed to feel happy. I did, but only for a while.
After 4–5 years working there I realized a few new things about my work:
I am supposed to work there for the rest of my life, ideally promoting soon. That is part of the formula I inherited. It does not excite me to get promoted or stay there for another 20+ years.
I am not enjoying my Monday mornings as much, even my Sunday nights. Friday seems to be the happiest day and I wait for it. While I wait from one Friday to another my life is passing by.
I don’t feel like I am using my best strengths except when I build relationships with my clients.
Selling technology does not excite me at all. It does not feel so meaningful to me. I want to touch people’s lives in a different and deeper way.
I do not want to read magazines or books about my topics even though I am an avid reader.
I do not want to work looking forward to my weekends and a promised retirement period. I care about all my days.
Most important of all; I want to have a job I love. I want to feel energized doing my work. I want to find meaning in what I do. I want to feel excited for all the days not only weekends.
The internal struggle that came with that though was the fight I needed to give to make it happen. Nobody understood why I would question my happiness at my job when they paid me well and provided a great environment. Why was that not enough for me? What is wrong with me? I felt out of place when I saw people around me who can work without questioning their work. Work was supposed to be boring because you have fun after work. This is to pay the bills. Nobody approved when you question the status quo; like when you knew the things you were pushed to do like to sell just because somebody up there made an arbitrary number to reach that quarter was not in alignment with your belief system or your values. These were not things you would talk out loud at the time. I was suffering inside. What should I do? Be logical, follow the formula given to you and force myself to be happy or listen to my inner voice? That conflict stayed with me for a while.
I realized it was impossible to reach my dream where I worked. I had to be out of my comfort zone to follow it.
I had to be brave enough to leave everything familiar, everything I am told to do to have a “successful life”. I needed to feel the fear but do it anyway. I needed to step into the unknown and have a leap of faith. So without finding what my real purpose in life is and finding what I love to do, I quit my well paying job.
My plan with my husband was to start a new life in USA when we got the green cards. We will run after our dream and we will find what we love.
It was not easy though. Much harder than we thought. We were at the top 1% in our own country with our education and what we were able to accomplish. Not here! We started from scratch. What this tough journey did for me was to get rid of all my identities, do a lot of self-development and ask the hardest questions to myself. I never gave up looking for purposeful work.
When I went through the process of finding my purpose in life, it got me to start my own business to help people exactly in my space. People who had a job or even a job that many would want to have but still feel a void in themselves knowing there is more to life than what they experience at work. Once I transformed my thinking and my beliefs, I knew it was very important for others to learn these life-changing principles too. That is why I started communicating in every possible way I know how: writing, speaking, teaching, consulting. Sharing all I learned.
Working with very unhappy people at work led me to start my second business because I found out those who were happy had amazing leaders and worked for organizations that have purpose beyond profit. If I help leaders create the best environments, I can have an even bigger impact on happiness of people at work.
This is how I got obsessed about my work. Both of them; one working with unhappy professionals, one working with leaders so that they don’t create more unhappy professionals.
We cannot let our work make us unhappy and unhealthy. It is insane to accept living like that. Do you think we were really born to hate 5 days out of 7? Spend our best years working at a job we don’t enjoy at all? Suffer at work to make money only? No way. I went through it myself. I saw people go through it. We just need to change the way we think about work and change our limiting beliefs. That is how we transform ourselves and the world.
Thank God I have met dozens and now hundreds of people who get me now. I am not the lonely wolf sitting at my desk 20+ years ago wondering what is wrong me not loving my great job on paper. I know others can do too. I love my work and you can too!
Also published at Medium: https://medium.com/@brookeerol/why-and-how-did-i-get-obsessed-about-making-people-happy-at-work-85e2b57d6ba8