053 Five Reasons That Keep You Going At Work With Tremendous Joy

  • Why Is It Difficult To Enjoy A Job?

Do you wake up to a job that you enjoy?

“It’s easier said than done.” A young friend , M, who is in his late twenties responded after reading my previous blogpost.

M added, “While I like the scope of my job, the many day-to-day problems cause me to feel jaded and unmotivated at times.”

I know that feeling. Fire-fighting at work is tiring. And even more tiring is the dogfighting between people. The way to go forward is to find your own reasons to keep going.

  • Five Tips To Keep Happy At Work

Last week, a Japanese Kumon Instructor Ms S offered five reasons that kept her happy at the same job for thirty-five years at an education conference. The Japanese call these reasons “ikigai” 生きがい, which may be translated as “reasons that keep you going in life”.

Tip #1: Joy from discovering self

“My Centre grew steadily to 500 students after 5 years from the day I started. Thereafter, I kept it up for another 30 years. There were turns and twists in the journey. But one thing that amazed me most is that I have held passion to work for so many students and for so long a time. I would like to tell myself today, “You have done a great job! ” Ms S spoke smilingly with a chuckle.

First, ask if the job is making you happy about discovering your possibilities. Ms S marvelled at her own achievement. Interestingly, she found the key to success was passion, not hard work or competence. I think she is spot on. I have seen some people who achieved success through cold calculations, but I have never seen anyone enjoy success without passion.

Tip #2: Joy from enabling others

“I have found joy from the change in my students on a daily basis. And the joy multiplies over the years. I am moved each time former students returned to visit me with their children after they have grown up, married and become parents. It’s a big joy when they asked me to also be their children’s teacher.” Ms S’s face was beaming with pride.

Next, ask if you are making a positive difference to others. Contrary to the belief that people are more driven by self-interest, I observe that people are willing to do a better job for others than for themselves. So, if you are motivated to do more for others, you are probably already in the right job!

Tip #3: Joy from camaraderie

“A big source of joy in this work comes from other Instructors. Over the years, I have gained tremendous amount of energy from every interaction, inspiration and collaboration. You made me feel that I am not alone in the face of difficulties.” Ms S expressed her gratitude to her fellow instructors.

The third source of work happiness comes from the camaraderie of working together. No man is an island. At varying degrees, people seek acceptance from one another, and also need the collaboration of others to flourish. Gaining the respect and understanding from counterparts help people to find strength in companionship.

Tip #4: Joy from learning

“As a student, I did not enjoy learning as much as I do now. Now, I solve worksheets enjoyably daily like the way I want my students to experience. And I even challenged myself to take up an English course in Canada last year. It was so revitalising to learn together with young people.” Ms. S revealed.

Learning naturally occurs when people place their hearts on their work. That’s how people become experts in their work and masters in their trades. Becoming skilful at the things you do is highly satisfying. And the best part is you get to stay young when you keep on learning.

Tip #5: Joy from loved ones

My two children did not enjoy studying at one point or another. My son hid his worksheets in the fridge in a futile attempt to evade homework. My daughter did the front and back covers, and left the pages in between untouched. But many years later, my son thanked me for the Kumon education that helped him to realise his dream job. As for my daughter, she has chosen to become a Kumon Instructor just like us.” Ms S said to the applause and laughter of the audience.

Ms S’s sharing of her family reminded me about the predicament of my former boss JS. He told me,

“I often work late and travel frequently. One day, I was delighted to find my young daughter at the doorstep when I returned home. But I was saddened because she ran away quickly as if she saw a stranger.”

Remember, no amount of joy you get from position and pay can compensate the loss of affection between you and your loved ones. However busy you are, make sure that your loved ones feel your love and presence. In time to come, they will appreciate the value of your job.

May these five reasons help to keep you happy at work. I know it’s a long shot.

A young colleague just told me, “William, I am leaving the company at end of the month.”

It looks like this colleague of mine has yet to find joy at his work.

William W K Tan

19 Feb 2019, Tuesday

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