top of page

The entire Navigate the Chaos collection of all 365 blog posts is now available in a paperback entitled Navigate the Chaos (795 pages for $24.99). A smaller collection of thoughts from the Navigate the Chaos collection is available in paperback entitled Wonder (94 pages for $4.99)

How often are you waiting for a job to bring you happiness?

Today is June 12 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often are you waiting for a job to bring you happiness?” Those who navigate the chaos understand the observation by Stephen Hall “You do have choices about how you spend your time. Balancing what you need to do with what you want to do can lead to happiness and success.”

Moreover, those who navigate the chaos often try to balance work with their personal life and illustrate the belief by Zig Ziglar “that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can't truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.” Today’s reflection provides you with an opportunity to consider how often you are choosing work as your sole source of 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. Actor, director, and producer Bryan Cranston felt differently however, and instead leveraged his mind, body, and spirit to toil away for decades before getting his break.

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 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.

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.”

  • How often are you finding joy in every opportunity?

  • How often are you waiting for a job to bring you happiness?

  • Do you believe a job is more important than love?

  • Do you believe a job is more important than family?

  • Have you ever thought about what might happen if you never get that dream job?

  • How do you define a dream job?

  • If you are waiting for a job to bring you happiness, why not launch another career on the side so you can start doing what you like to do?

  • Even if your 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?


bottom of page