Stop Being Grateful For A Job, Start Being Happy with A StartupWe are constantly told to be grateful. We are encouraged to count our blessings and keep ‘gratitude diaries’ where we write down all the positive elements in our lives. If ever those niggly negative feelings surface we are advised to blast them with a dose of thankfulness.
But what happens when gratitude blinds you to what you really want to change in your life and your career? What happens when gratitude stops you from being truly happy?
I’ve used those gratitude tools during many rough moments in my working life and for the most part they successfully worked their magic – turning me from a grumbling employee into someone who could smile through the worst of jobs. (Chipping burnt bits off pie trays in the back of a bakery was pretty bad until I convinced myself it was a plum position because I could listen to the radio all day long and not have to deal with customers.)
But the problem with being grateful is that it can sometimes make you put off changing things that are not so great in your career by papering over the cracks with a good slick of “Oh it’s not so bad. At least I’m not homeless/dying/friendless/starving….”
Take the example of my good friend Nadia who is deeply unhappy in her job but is so thankful for the free health care, tax perks and monthly paycheck that she’s stayed stuck and frustrated in that career for over 10 years. She’s played the gratitude game so well that she’s actually forgotten that it’s ok to be ungrateful if the cons outweigh the pros. (Especially when you’ve spent nearly a third of your life being unhappy!)
For those of us who have chosen to say goodbye to the easy working life of being an employee on a payroll and instead take the shakier path of starting a small business, our gratitude list diminishes in some ways but expands in others. For example, I have a few sleepless nights wondering what would happen to me and my family if the business took a dive. But then again I’m thankful I don’t have to worry about a boss getting nasty with me because I need to go to the doctor or there’s another strike at school and I can’t find childcare. (In fact I don’t have to put up with anyone being nasty to me at all. And that includes customers.)
It all depends on what you want from life. If your goal is to know where you will be every day for the rest of your working life; that you will be able to keep your level of lifestyle and tick along nicely until you reach retirement age, then that’s absolutely fine. In these difficult economic times, who could blame you for being sensible? Just as long as you don’t grumble to your friends and family about your choice (and you keep up that gratitude diary) then all power to you. But for the entrepreneurial-minded, the thought of spending five days a week (maybe more) chained to a well-paid but unfulfilling job just waiting for the weekend and holidays seems an awful waste of a life.
Everyone can “do a Pollyanna” – a phrase coined after the plucky character in the eponymous book who bravely told her father she was happy to have mistakenly received a pair of crutches for a present instead of a much-coveted doll because she was just “glad” her legs worked perfectly and she didn’t actually need crutches.
Doing a Pollyanna comes in useful when life doesn’t deliver what you bargained for. But sometimes it’s good to take those crutches, throw them at the wall and say “I’m glad I don’t need crutches. But I want that doll anyway. So I’ll just go out and earn the money to buy it. Or I’ll make the doll myself.”
Life shouldn’t just be about being grateful for what you have. That’s a bit like settling for second best. It should be about being HAPPY with what you have. And if you’re not happy with your career, then change something until you are. Then perhaps you can become truly grateful.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Stop Being Grateful For A Job, Start Being Happy with A Startup
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