Is your career happiness driven? Please, don’t become a happiness junkie.

While it seems we’re leaving this crisis behind, everybody agrees things are far to be as they were, and it’s going to take years, even decades, to reacquire pre-crisis growth levels. Some are even wondering if growth would ever be the economic paradigm again. In the middle of this crisis new generations have to surface, Millenials in the first line.

Much has been written about generation Y, or Millenials, since they started to get into work. The oldest ones will be 30 years old next year, enough to start looking back over their careers, if they were lucky enough to have one. They suffered very competitive environments, as they parents invested in them and expected a return, but also family structures where freedom was part of their lives, because parents couldn’t micro manage them enough, probably trying to work hard, as they have been taught to. Millenials are very well adapted to constant change, they are hyper connected, but also more immediate happiness oriented. They want to do things they satisfy them, and they want them now, and if they don’t, they switch as it’s much effortless for them. Obviously, when getting to “traditional” professional environments, they usually crash against corporate cultures that are rigid, hierarchical, and not very fulfilling, not making them happy.

A generation’s behavior can’t be such consistent because the generation itself, but most likely because their parents, and the context around. Don’t blame Millenials for what they are, because in part, they’re a product of their parents, us. My kid will be ten in a month, and I’m frankly scared of the kind of challenges he will face in a context where technology will literally be reshaping our brains.When the future is unpredictable, it’s obvious we have to go back to the basics, values that, whatever happens are there for supporting us as individuals, and help you in the good and bad moments of your life.

I’ve lately been discussing with some parents about the importance of teaching our kids to chose their path looking for their own happiness. And I partially agreed. I agree we need to teach our kids about understanding their emotions, and work with them in order to have a richer personal life. But your life, and particularly your professional life, can’t be a continuous race looking for the next happiness dose, or you’ll become a happiness junkie, which will undeniably push you to make decisions not building into some values that have to be somehow consistent. In this constant changing world, we need some fix points in the firmament, like the North Star. Be careful, kid, you should look for happiness inside you, not in your work, or it’ll be too late and you won’t get neither (happiness nor a career). For your career, son, let me give you some advice:

1. Happiness is a temporary state of mind. Happiness is like vacations, they never last forever, or they wouldn’t be such. Don’t rely on your job as unique source of happiness. Take some time to evaluate situations before making decisions, analyze consequences in every aspect of your life. Every job is leaving you something, at least recognizing what you don’t want to do. Most of the times you acknowledge how good or bad a professional situation has been after some time and perspective. Don’t loose perspective.

2. Don’t stop learning. Respect your boss, he’s your boss for a reason, learn from him, learn from your colleagues, learn from your subordinates. Listen twice before you speak. If you feel you shouldn’t have a boss, that you should be your own boss, go for it, but know the consequences. Its harder, but also better to fail when you are your own boss. Don’t fear to fail. Learn from failure.

3. Embrace change. Change is what will define your future, get used to that. Its distressing not knowing what will be your future in two years time, but that is also a chance to forge your own destiny. Always think how to use changes for your own advantage, if you can. Be sure you’re getting yourself out of the bad moments knowing that change is coming somewhere, somehow. Analyze the situations and make your move, but before doing so, read again #1 and #2.

4. Your playground is the world. Somewhere, there is a place where you can be the best of yourself. Happiness has no boundaries (because it’s in you). It makes me sad to think you will be several thousand miles away from me, but there is where you’ll probably be for a while. Thanks God there is Skype.

5. Freedom implies responsibility. Happiness is often associated with freedom. People tend to think that freedom will give them happiness, and it’s not true (although it helps, like love, health and money). Freedom is good, look for freedom, but understand it has responsibilities associated, for you and for your loved ones. Take care of them and they will take care of you. Build your happiness together.

Hope it helps.

With love,

Dad.

P.S. It seems my son will be part of Generation Z. You can read a bunch of interesting things here.