Are you waiting for a job to bring you happiness?

Today is June 12 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “are you waiting for a job to bring you happiness?” In his February 24, 2019 article "Working is Making Americans Miserable" in The Atlantic Derek Thompson wrote "For the college-educated elite, work has morphed into a religious identity—promising transcendence and community but failing to deliver. Pew Research reported 95 percent of teens said ‘having a job or career they enjoy’ would be ‘extremely or very important’ to them as an adult. This ranked higher than any other priority, including ‘helping other people who are in need’ (81 percent) or getting married (47 percent). Finding meaning at work beats family and kindness as the top ambition of today’s young people.”

Sadly, many people across the age spectrum, are waiting for a job to bring them happiness. More so than love or family, a job, or more specifically one’s dream job or vocation, is the key to happiness. Really? Is that what we have come to in our society? A job is more important than love? What happens if you never get that dream job? Do you go through life without love? Are you unhappy your entire life?

Actor, director, and producer Bryan Cranston toiled away for years before landing a job that would provide him with professional and financial security. After graduating with an associate degree in police science from Los Angeles Valley College in 1976 Cranston began his acting career in local and regional theaters.

He had previously performed as a youth, but his show business parents had mixed feelings about their son being involved in the profession, so he did not continue until he graduated college. He started working regularly in the late 1980s, mostly doing minor roles and advertisements.

He was an original cast member of the ABC soap opera Loving from 1983 to 1985. Throughout the 1990s he was a journeyman and worked in various roles and bit-parts. He played Tim Whatley, a "dentist to the stars" in a few episodes of Seinfeld - but no big breaks.

At 43 years of age, married with a young daughter, and after 15 years of being a professional actor in commercials, bit parts and brief appearances he landed the role of hapless patriarch Hal in family sitcom Malcolm In The Middle in 1999. In a 1998 episode of The X-Files - written by one Vince Gilligan, Cranston played a racist redneck.


When Gilligan was casting his own show almost a decade later about a meth-cooking chemistry teacher in Breaking Bad on upstart cable channel AMC, Cranston came to mind. Cranston's work on the series was met with widespread critical acclaim, winning him the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

In an interview with GQ Cranston said "My greatest achievement is that I've been working as an actor for 25 years. It is about finding the joy in every opportunity to act. If getting the job is the only way to be happy, you'll eventually crash and burn."

Cranston never considered quitting during all those years of bit parts and brief appearances because he found joy in every opportunity. Are you finding the joy in every opportunity or are you waiting for a job to bring you happiness?

Another option is to have more than one career. Some of the most successful people have two or more business cards. Unless your employment contract specifically forbids it, you can work in two spheres. As Kabir Sehgal wrote in "Why You Should Have (at Least) Two Careers,” Harvard Business Review April 25, 2017 “In my case, I have four vocations: I’m a corporate strategist at a Fortune 500 company, US Navy Reserve officer, author of several books, and record producer. The two questions that people ask me most frequently are “How much do you sleep?” and “How do you find time to do it all? (my answers: “plenty” and “I make the time”). Yet these process questions do not get to the heart of my reasons and motivations. Instead, a more revealing query would be, ‘Why do you have multiple careers?’ Quite simply, working many jobs makes me happier and leaves me more fulfilled. It also helps me perform better at each job.”

If you are waiting for a job to bring you happiness, why not launch another career to start doing that which you like to do? Even if you full-time job, first career, only provides you with a few hours to spend on your second career each week, isn’t that better than not spending any time at all on what you love to do?

Perhaps more importantly, why is your job the sole source of happiness in your life?