Have you ever noticed how some people are talkers? The get energized by conversation and social engagements. They love parties with lots of people and bounce from group to group, easily mingling and interacting with all. These are people people.
I am not one of these people.
Social engagements make me uneasy. Before going I often feel anxious, uptight and a piece of me dreads that I have committed to attend something that clearly makes me feel uncomfortable. I am not skilled at small talk and I find social interactions draining and exhausting. Often after attending such an event I feel the need to come home and curl up in a ball.
I get my energy from nature. I absolutely need to spend as much time as I can outside in the great outdoors. I am quite happy to spend my time cleaning out flower beds, raking leaves, hiking in the woods, kayaking on the lake. Sitting on the deck, sipping my tea and watching the sunrise is my favorite way to spend the morning. Sitting on the deck, sipping my wine or IPA is a favorite evening activity. I am happy to do these activities with 1 or 2 others but equally happy to do them alone.
On days when I don’t get any outdoor time or any alone time my stress level rises and my nerves become frayed. Now don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy the occasional party and social gathering; especially if I really like a few of the people and if there is something to do other than talk. But overall, I prefer to be alone or in the company of 1 or 2 others whose company I enjoy.
I think one of my AHA moments over the last few years was that my primary job as an Occupational Therapist required that I be a people person. I would spend the majority of my day with others and talking was definitely a job requirement! I enjoyed the 1:1 time with my patients but often I was in a crowded therapy room where quiet conversation was difficult. The office was a room with 1 large table where we sat for meetings and to do some of our paperwork. It was like sitting at Mother Fran’s dining room table, on a holiday trying to get my work done.
Needless to say I was not energized by this environment. I would come home from my 8 hour day exhausted and burned out. At the time, I didn’t think about it, I just thought I worked hard at a difficult job and was too tired at the end of the day to do much of anything. As plenty of my friends felt drained at the end of their work day, I guess I just thought this was normal.
I still work at a skilled nursing facility as an Occupational Therapist but now I do it more on my terms! I work per-diem and only commit to work one day per week. My boss texts me when she needs extra help and I try to say yes as much as possible. The best part is, I can so “NO”, guilt free. On average, I probably work 12 hours per week at this job which allows me to have the time I need to get energized outside of the work environment. I supplement my income with side jobs that do not require me to be a people person.
With this new schedule I spend a lot of time outside. One of my side jobs is doing yard work for people who have beautiful yards but no time or energy to keep up with the work. I work hard, physically hard, but I am happy. I no longer have to be a people person 8 hours a day, 5 days per week.
I still come home at the end of a busy work day feeling tired, but now I am only physically tired. I am not emotionally tired or drained. I can jump in the shower, walk the dog and still have the energy to talk to my honey, to cook us a nice dinner and to do stuff around the house. The difference between physically tired and physically and emotionally tired is huge for me. I am not drained after work, I am not cranky, I do not need to come home and curl up in a ball on the couch to watch hours of television because I do not have the energy to talk to people.
Is your job energizing you or draining you?
I recognize that not everyone can reduce their hours like I did to find a happier work situation. I don’t have a family to support or anyone that relies on me financially to meet their needs (other than my dog). But just recognizing that maybe you don’t hate your job – that you hate how it makes you feel gives you some power over the situation. Having power implies you have the ability to make some changes that can improve your situation.
This major change in my schedule only works because I have also dramatically reduced my spending in every category. I no longer spend the money that requires that I make the larger salary. This was a trade-off that I happily made in order to increase my overall happiness. The best part is if I decide I need to increase my income or if I want to do something different – I have the power to implement changes that can improve my happiness.
What changes can you implement to increase your happiness?
If you are not sure what to change than check out 2 Life Preservers where I share some techniques that might help!
I have to go trim some lilacs!