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Bored and stuck in your job? Here’s the secret to being happy at work


Ask Beverly Jones, author of the valuable new book, “Find Your Happy at Work,” to describe a time when she was happiest at work and Jones instantly smiles. It was, she says, when she was a grad student at Ohio University working as a paid assistant to its president and researching ways for more equal opportunity on campus for women.

“In those days, women couldn’t take some courses, like engineering,” Jones, now a Washington, D.C.-based executive career coach, recalled. “Many graduate programs didn’t accept women. It was something I cared totally about. I had absolutely no idea how to go about it, so I had to make it up every day, but it was one of the most intensely enjoyable periods of my life.”

The reason, says Jones (one of my go-to career experts, fellow Labrador retriever fan and longtime friend), is that “creating something and making a difference is a great strategy to go to if everything is feeling dull at work.”

The secret to happiness at work

But there’s more to it. “A secret to success, and ultimately happiness at work, is often being comfortable with your own discomfort,” Jones says. “I’m a naturally cautious person, and I’ve learned to ask myself: ‘Am I afraid because this is foolish and dangerous or am I afraid because it’s an opportunity and I’ve got to push forward through the discomfort?’”

In “Find Your Happy at Work,” whose subtitle is “50 Ways to Get Unstuck, Move Past Boredom and Discover Fulfillment,” Jones has tapped into a subject that many workers, me included, have been grappling with since the pandemic began. We’re stressed, a little nervous about the future of our work and perhaps a little burned out.

I recently visited with Jones to learn about her refreshing and timely happiness insights in a free-ranging conversation that hit on some of the major themes of her latest book.

“Some of the people who have had the biggest struggles [lately] seem to me to be rising to the occasion and finding meaning in their work,” Jones says. “You can have a kind of joy and meaning even in a difficult job, like working in a hospital emergency room or struggling to help people who are going through a mental or health crisis. It’s not a fun, giggly, kind of happy. It’s a sense that life matters and time is going fast, and it feels good.”

Also read: Were older workers hurt disproportionately by the COVID recession?

Jones discovered through researching her book, as well as from her biweekly “Jazzed About Work” podcast on NPR.org and sessions with clients during COVID-19 “that there is a shared sense that work should be meaningful, and lifestyles should be healthy,” she says. “There’s is a new sense that we deserve to have a rewarding work life which meshes nicely with the rest of our lives — especially for people in their 50s and beyond.”

One way to get unstuck at work

One essential way to get unstuck in your work, Jones notes: building new…



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