My Journey To Find Happiness Outside My Career

Real advice from a Career Coach, recovering workaholic, and formerly unhappy employee.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

“I hate my job. I’m unhappy. My career needs to make me happy.”

As a career coach and formerly unhappy employee, these are phrases I have heard far too often. Many of us are in the constant search for a “perfect” job so that we can unconditionally love every aspect of our lives. In a nutshell, we link our happiness directly to how satisfied we are at work.

During my first session with clients, I typically ask them to draw a Happiness Pie. This Happiness Pie is a circle that they then cut it into slices based on the pieces of their lives where they find happiness. More often than not, work is the largest chunk of their pies. We spend a lot of time at work (more than 4,000 days over the course of our lives according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), so it makes sense that our work takes up a large chunk of our pie. It also makes sense that our work affects our mood. But, let’s reflect:

  • Why is there this inherent need to find happiness through our work?
  • Why can’t a job just be a job?

While turning to our careers for happiness is not necessarily a bad thing, what happens when we are unhappy at work? I’ll tell you–we often end up unhappy with life. I am not saying we shouldn’t look for work that makes us happy. Nor should we stick around at a job that makes us unhappy. What I’m saying is that our happiness does not have to be tied to our work.

I recently had to do a serious recalibration of my own Happiness Pie. I was burnt out and incredibly unhappy.

In checking in with my Happiness Pie, my dissatisfaction (with my work and my life) made sense. My career was the largest chunk (like a really, really large chunk) of my Happiness Pie. When I was loving my job, it was awesome; I was incredibly happy. But when I was unhappy at work, my life suffered; I was miserable.

After many, many Starbucks runs (I do my best thinking when coffee is involved), I made the conscious decision to recalibrate my Happiness Pie. I have intentionally decreased the chunk of pie I delegate to work, and increased the sizes of the slices where I know I can find more meaningful and more consistent happiness–friends, family, exploring SF, Netflix and of course, coffee.

As a recovering workaholic, I am used to turning to my work for satisfaction. To fill the gaps in my life. To find happiness. Through lots of mentorship and therapy, I’ve learned that our (un)happiness is often a direct result of where we choose to place our energy.

This journey didn’t take place overnight, and it’s still a work in progress (my life is a work in progress), but I’m already starting to feel better and happier.

Originally published at

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


These 8 Ways Will Help You Discover Greater Happiness In Your Life

by Tony Fahkry
Work Smarter//

The 3 Things You Need to Be Happy at Work

by Annie McKee

“Why personal growth is important.” With Tyler Gallagher & Meganne Wecker

by Tyler Gallagher

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.