Happy Careers Prevent Big Life Problems

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​Jared is an attorney in New Haven, Connecticut.   I’m not sure if he is a functional alcoholic or just someone who drinks too much.  He drinks a few scotches at the end of each workday and, on the weekend, a lot more.  When I asked him why he drinks so much, he responded that it relieves his stress from his unhappy law practice.

Kyle is a mid-career business executive in Stamford, CT who is bored out of his mind at work. He regularly cheats on his wife.  Oddly enough, he describes his marriage as good.  When I asked him why he would jeopardize his marriage, he said that these flings are the only thing that makes his life exciting.

Based on my observation of working with career counseling clients through the years, those that cheat on their spouses and drink or smoke too much are far more likely to have unhappy work.

I need to differentiate happy work from successful work.  Happiness from work emanates from how you internally feel while doing your work and successful work relates to outcomes from work that conventionally mark success such as prestige and money.

Those who are successful – but not happy – with their work are epitomized by the stereotype of the high level but stressed executive who needs a few drinks at the end of the day and chases women when he travels.

Those who are happy with their work usually do not need alcohol to calm their stress.  Those who are happy with their work usually do not need to look outside their marriage for excitement.   I realize that exceptions abound.  But as a generalization, the benefits of happy work go far beyond one’s career.