Motivation & Work: How to make every day feel like new, even when your role is anything but

Karen Zakem, accounting manager with MRSB Chartered Accountants, has been with the company for 20 years and still enjoys (almost) every minute of it! In this week’s post she shares her secret to keeping things fresh and feel-good no matter how long you’ve been on the job.

It doesn’t take a psychology degree to notice that there are people who never seem satisfied in their role, no matter how novel or attractive it might be to others. On the flipside, have you ever noticed those people who carry themselves through the workday as if they were born to do what they do? Your neighborhood garbage collector who always has a smile and a joke; the real estate agent who seemed thrilled to sell you a two-bedroom bungalow even though it cost significantly less than the others she showed you. What is it that makes these people genuinely enjoy what they do? As someone who’s been working in the same office for 20 years I’m thankful that, when I ask myself whether I’m still happy in my role, the answer is a confident (if occasionally tired) ‘Yes’. This doesn’t make me an expert in career psychology, but I can at least share a few bits of wisdom I’ve personally gathered through the years. Here are three factors that, in my opinion, can make or break your on-the-job happiness:

Work friends, not foes

The people I work with each day are probably the most important factor in my overall job happiness. I genuinely like my colleagues and they know as much about me as some of my closest friends. When you spend 40+ hours a week doing what you do, having people around who can make you smile is really important. If the thought of leaving your current job makes you a little sad because you’d be leaving so many friends behind, you’re probably in the right place as far as work relationships go.

Our clients also make my role interesting on a daily basis. Each interaction is different and even the difficult ones pose new challenges and opportunities for getting better at what I do. In my opinion, dealing with the same, simple problems each day wouldn’t be a welcome break – it would be boring!

Development first, salary second

When I started at MRSB 20 years ago it was as an accounting technician on a four month term position. Since then my role has changed a number of times. I have done controllership work offsite for a few clients, I have managed our Bookkeeping & Reporting division and am now a manager in our Audit & Acounting division – all while pursuing a professional designation. In the midst of all these changes there were obviously also some changes in income. While what I made was important, it wasn’t as important as the career development itself and the ongoing support from the partners and staff along the way, which to me is priceless. 

Work-Life Balance

It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot, but it’s very true that without that parity between office and home life, there isn’t much joy to be taken from your professional ambitions. I have always felt encouraged to grow and learn as an accounting professional, but the road hasn’t been easy. With three kids, one of whom has autism, I had to wait until my family was grown enough so that I could fully pursue my education. Now that I’ve finally accomplished my goal, I fully realize how having support both at home and in the office were critical to my success. 

When I talk to my kids about finding a job or career they love, I use a simple analogy: if you have to drag your butt out of bed every morning, you’re probably not parking it in the seat you were meant to fill. Of course there will always be bad days and challenging people, but if you’re doing something you enjoy, these issues won’t matter as much, and can even be the fuel that keeps you moving forward. Honestly, I feel like I could spend 20 more years doing what I do, and still find positive challenges to keep me motivated.

What do you think is needed to stay happy at work? Share your comments below.