Are You Really That Happy?

I spend a large part of my work day looking for unhappy people, and it’s not as easy as you might think.

While I enjoy meeting and visiting with happy people, my role as a recruiter requires me to seek professional discontent, even if it is just mild discontent. That discontent gives me an opening to propose an opportunity with one of my clients. One of the biggest challenges I face is getting my prospects to be honest about their happiness with their jobs.

Years of doing this have taught me that the prospect of change frightens most people, and when they’re frightened, they can be less than truthful. Common responses to my calls include: “I’m happy” and “I’m not ready to make a move.” While that might be true in some cases, I’m pretty sure that such contentment is far less common than my experience might indicate.

For most, change connotes discomfort, and no one wants to be uncomfortable. Because they sense discomfort looming, many of my prospects quickly dismiss the thought of considering another professional opportunity, even if their current situation is less than ideal.

Fear of change impedes progress in many aspects of our lives. In addition to staying in jobs that are unfulfilling, we hold on to relationships that we know aren’t good for us. We delay dieting while the pounds all up. We cling to bad habits, though we’re aware how much they limit us. For years, I held on to a business structure that kept me from reaching my financial goals.

Fifteen years ago, when my business partner and I decided to move the business from our homes, sign a lease for office space and hire employees, we did so with grand ideas of success. The early years were lean, but we persisted and found enough success to expand our team and move into a bigger office. The recession that occurred around 2010 put us in a hole that we struggled to climb out of. Eventually, we got on relatively solid footing, but we never regained our momentum.

For the next few years, we treaded water when we should have been growing and prospering. There were a lot of reasons for that, and though we tried to make corrections, the numbers didn’t lie. We did some projections, and learned that, if we lowered our overhead and focused our efforts on producing revenue, rather than managing employees, we could take more money home to our families.

Even with that knowledge, I resisted making a change. My resilient/stubborn personality made it difficult to move on. Ultimately, a pending five-year lease renewal and insistence from my partner left me little choice.

It turned out to be the right choice. Four years later, I’ve made more money working few hours with much less stress. I can’t even imagine going back to the way things were.

I urge you to consider doing the same. The beginning of a decade provides the ideal setting for major change.  Stay alert for opportunities that will set you up for success, and most of all, make sure that you are truly happy. If you’re not, don’t let fear of change keep you from making adjustments that will make this decade your best yet.

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