Dear communications professionals: Do you love your job?
Feel fulfilled by it?
Jump out of bed every morning just burning to spend your day cajoling editors, smiling at that manager who never pronounces your name correctly, and writing just one more news release on your client’s latest widget?
Come on, do you?
Are You Happy Right Now?
A recent Gallup Poll of 5.4 million working adults found that more than half of Americans hate their jobs.
Communications professionals, those of us who toil in the marketing and PR fields, are not immune.
A June 2013 study by the iOpener Institute for People & Performance, revealed that although communications professionals are highly productive with a respectable measurement of “time spent on task” score of 61 percent, we’re not very happy about it.
Our “time spent happy” earned a sad score of just 39 percent.
For communications professionals, it seems that where you work adds more to the happiness index than what kind of PR you practice.
Independent Communications Professionals are More Happy
A 2013 poll by the Independent Public Relations Alliance (IPRA), a section of the Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter, showed that 88 percent of independent communications professionals reported being “extremely happy” or “happy” with their status as indies.
More than 90 percent said working independently had a “somewhat positive” or “very positive” effect on their quality of life.
Respondents said flexible hours, and the ability to choose clients, were the top two benefits of being an independent practitioner.
It seems communications professionals value the freedom found in working independently over the guarantee of a weekly paycheck.
Given the opportunity to leave independent work, 73 percent reported they were not likely to rejoin the ranks of salaried employees.
Short of quitting your corporate gig to open up your own shop, what can you do to increase your happiness level?
Rather than looking to outside sources to find a bit more happiness in your life (such as earning a promotion, landing a new client, or winning the lottery so you can ditch the day job), I recommend five steps you can take now to promote happiness for yourself in your own daily life.
1. Stop Beating Yourself Up
You write messaging for other people all day long.
For this exercise, I want you to listen to your own self talk. You know, that little voice in your head?
If every thought, every story you tell yourself is negative, you’ve already defeated yourself before you attempt the next task or try something new.
The next time you hear that voice in your head say you’re not good enough, not smart enough, too tired, or too old to attempt something, STOP.
Realize not every random thought you have is true.
By taking time to pause and evaluate the content of your own self talk, you give yourself the chance to change the story.
2. Take Time for Yourself
In a stressful world of client management, deadlines, and constant connectivity through smart phones and social media, you may never have a moment to yourself.
Try keeping a journal to record your thoughts each night, or learn how to meditate, in order to give yourself some quiet time.
3. Find Your Purpose
Everyone has something about them that’s special.
I call that unique element Your Avocado.
I truly believe the key to a happy life is to find Your Avocado, and express it in the world, through your work, a hobby, or by volunteering.
Happiness begins when you spend time doing what you are born to do, whether a paycheck is attached to it or not.
4. Make a Plan
Once you find Your Avocado, don’t get discouraged if it requires a large commitment such as moving across country, changing careers, or going back to school.
I suggest breaking down big changes into small, manageable bites that can be accomplished in: A week, a month, three months, six months, a year, three years, and five years, if necessary.
When you tackle a change piece by piece, it’s not as daunting.
5. Take Action
Once you’ve found Your Avocado, and have made a plan to accomplish your goals, leaving it on paper isn’t enough.
You have to go out and do it.
I don’t recommend you become reckless, but I do encourage you to take a risk.
Nothing worthwhile will happen if you don’t give it a shot.
Once you commit to the process, just watch how happy your life can become.
And that’s true for everyone, not just communications professionals.