The Key to Professional Performance? Happiness.

In today’s competitive job marketplace, it can be not just difficult, but nearly impossible to finally stumble upon a job we enjoy. Finding passion in the workplace is a feat in and of itself, but occasionally that passion can subside from a roaring fire to charred remains. How do we maintain our love for what we do? How do we retain intrigue and ambition in the office?

In fact, although paradoxical, it can seem commonplace that the more we enjoy a job at first, the less likely we are to enjoy that same job later on. When initially taking on a new and exciting position, we are motivated to work hard so that we may distinguish ourselves from our peers. Yet, this overwork can lead to a sort of workplace exhaustion. Recent statistics suggest the same:

-48% of employed Americans reported increased levels of stress in the last five years.
-31% of employed Americans report difficulty managing work and family responsibilities
-55% of employed Americans claim work makes them “overtired and overwhelmed.”

According to Arianna Huffington, “there is no trade-off between living a well-rounded life and high performance, performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder, and giving.” Though there may seem times we should be working over resting, the fact is that resting would actually make us more efficient. We must be sure to rest when we need rest, or not only the quality of our work will suffer, but our very happiness will be diminished.

It is of the utmost significance to diminish stress in our lives, to erase worries and to embrace what makes us happy. Stress’ negative effects merely compound until they develop into an insurmountable perception of difficulty, thus forcing us to leave our job unless we are to fall into an oblivion of depression. The effects of stress are well-known and do not just affect us mentally, but physically as well.

Many times we will find ourselves enduring back pain or heart disease, obesity or even just the common cold, and we will fail to acknowledge the possible role of stress. While it may not seem immediately apparent, stress often facilitates the development of these negative situations. It reduces your immune system and increases your vulnerability. Just as well, this vulnerability is not limited to professional interaction. Indeed, it can and does generally negatively impact social relationships as well.

By reducing the stress associated with work, we are reducing our chance of burnout. We are increasing our chance for prolonged professional satisfaction and happiness. If we acknowledge and properly manage the inevitable stress that undoubtedly plagues us all, we are orienting ourselves for long-term success. While it may seem natural to work as hard as possible at a job we first start, we must remember that happiness, above all else, is what will drive professional performance.

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