I recently caught up with old friend (and ex-colleague, twice) about new jobs and newly found happiness.
The conversation was strangely celebratory as we reflected on how miserable we had both been working for a previous employer.
The environment had been toxic. Loyalty was bought. And not loyalty for the company but for the company’s founder. There was no respect for expertise, no diversity to thought and no leadership.
When we were both in the thick of it, I’m not sure we understood our levels of unhappiness. But looking back it was pretty clear. The place was demoralizing. We had been stripped of our voices. Our happiness had been neglected.
It sounds bad, but the conversation was upbeat and uplifting. Why? Because we have both found meaning and purpose again. We were once again optimistic about our careers. We were reminded of our individualism and how much value our perspective has.
We had both rediscovered our happy.
Hard lessons are just that – hard. They’re not fun experiences to live through. But once you’ve lived through it (which you will), once you’ve let go of the toxicity and moved on, happiness is waiting.
It’s waiting because the hard lesson has taught you what to avoid. It’s shed light on happiness destroyers. And hopefully, it has reminded you of all the things you personally require to be happy.
We had both sacrificed a lot for that paycheck, without understanding what we were required to give up for it. It was a tough time. And when that chapter came to an end (at different times and under different circumstances for each of us), we were left figuring it all out.
And that process – that reflection – has led us both to much happier places.
Take time to reflect. I offer up this advice a lot because reflection is how we learn. When we take time to reflect, we’re taking time to listen to our own personal, very real needs. That voice is the real you and it’s trying to let you know what you need to be happy. Listen to it.
Take time to celebrate. Like actually celebrate the good that came out of the bad. Celebrate the new job, the strengthened friendships and the hard lessons.
Don’t forget. When you survive a hard period, make sure you carry the lesson with you forever. Don’t let the ugliness of the experience come along for a ride, but make sure you take the lesson learned. Otherwise, you’ll have to learn it again.