Living a long healthy life is all well and good. But it takes more than longevity to achieve well-being, and that means having a compelling reason to get up in the morning and keep going.
There are plenty of ways to find purpose in this world. But according to research, the strongest predictor of men’s happiness and well-being is their job satisfaction … with other factors not even coming close.
I’m guessing that’s true of plenty of women as well. And whether the work we do is meaningful comes down to how we think about it.
This is a call
For example, do you think of what you do for a living as a “job,” a “career,” or a “calling?” According to psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski of Yale University, how you answer will make all the difference:
“People who see their work as a calling are significantly more satisfied with their jobs. They’re significantly more satisfied with their lives. They’re more engaged in what it is that they’re doing and tend to be better performers, regardless of what the work is,” said Wrzesniewski, who researches how people find meaning in the work that they do.
Part of midlife discontent is realizing the “job” or “career” that’s been just fine for years doesn’t seem all that great anymore. We’ve entered a new stage where what we’re looking for is a calling that fills us with a sense of true purpose.
Unretire before retirement
We’ve talked before about the unretirement trend, where retirees return to work even though they don’t need the money. That’s because they walked away from the thing that provided them meaning and purpose — the ikigai that provides their reason to live.
An interesting spin on the unretirement concept involves people who are in their 50s and early 60s working on the side to “unretire” without retiring at all. They’re preparing to start a purposeful business or join a cause-based organization — just as soon as they’re financially ready to make the jump.
Maybe work shouldn’t matter so much to us. But it clearly does. So perhaps the goal is to plan for an encore career that allows for more meaningful work, rather than chasing the myth that you’ll somehow be magically happy without work — or a sense of purpose.
Finding Meaning At Work: How We Shape And Think About Our Jobs (NPR Podcast)