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Do you drag yourself to work every morning? Watch the clock wishing time would go faster? Feel exhausted and drained at the end of the day? Do you find it hard to switch off? Are you always looking forward to the weekend and then suffer Sunday night blues?

If you answered yes to any of these, then you’re not alone: 3 in 4 people working in the UK don’t have a career that makes them happy and wish they could change career. That’s a whopping great 500,000 of us in the UK feeling trapped in jobs we don’t enjoy – no wonder up to 75% of all illnesses in the UK can be related to stress.

While it’s an employer’s responsiblity to create a stress-free work culture and environment, it’s up to each and every one of us to make sure our own career is in good shape and that we have a work-life balance that keeps us happy and healthy.

So, what does a healthy, stress-free career look like?

The key ingredients to a healthy, stress-free career are:

  1. A role that involves your favourite activities
    An average working life is about 40 years. Imagine if at the beginning of your working life someone said to you, “you can spend the next 40 years doing activities that you enjoy and that make you come alive or you can spend the next 40 years doing activities that you find boring, difficult, stressful and exhausting.” People who have stress-free careers are doing daily work that they love, so much so that many will say it doesn’t even feel like work!
  2. Subjects that concern you
    When we work with subjects that we find endlessly fascinating, interesting and enjoyable we are fully engaged in what we do. If we are working with subjects that we have no interest in then we’re not engaged in the work we do and we literally become bored to tears – never underestimate the stress caused by boredom and disinterest.
  3. Playing to your strengths
    When a career is built up on a person’s strengths then work becomes effortless and stress-free. People that work to their strenghts have a sense of achievement, enjoyment, are confident in what they do and tend to perform well.  A person that finds themselves using their weaker skills rather than their strengths in their career will experience work as a constant struggle, will have a sense of failure and subsequently a total loss in confidence in their abilities. It is one of the biggest causes of career stress.
  4. Challenge and Reward
    A healthy career provides just the right amount of challenge – not too much for a person to feel over pressured or stressed out and not too little for them to be bored or restless. Just the right amount of challenge and reward keeps a person feeling engaged, alert and feeling alive.
  5. An environment that you thrive in
    Different people will thrive in different environments – it all comes down to personality, strengths and style. Some people will buzz in a fast-pace, where people are rushing around, while others will prefer working in quiet surroundings, with no distractions and without pressures of deadlines to work to. A healthy work environment for a person is a place where they can be fully themselves, feel alive and energised.
  6. Working style
    Just as different personalities thrive in different environments, so too do different personalities suit different working styles. Some of us need security and stability, others need freedom and flexibility. So, while some people will love being self-employed and being their own boss, others prefer to work as part of a company where they can see a path for promotion.  Some people like structure to their day, others feel stifled by it.  A happy and healthy career is one that offers a work-style that suits the individual and their chosen lifestyle.
  7. Financial security to meet your needs
    A stress-free career provides a person with an income that enables them to fund a lifestyle that makes them happy and healthy and not have to worry about money. Interestingly, many people report that once they have a career that they love, they don’t find the need to spend as much money as they did when they were in stressful careers.
  8. Sense of purpose & pride
    When a person is happy in their career they feel that what they’re doing is worthwhile, that they’re making a positive contribution to the world through their work. With a sense of purpose, comes a sense of pride –  these are the people that are happy to tell you what you do for a living, in fact it will probably be hard to shut them up about it!
  9. Matching of values
    Your values are the qualities that are most important to you in life – the things that make you laugh, cry, feel alive and uplifted – this might be fun, integrity, creativity, justice, community, helping others, variety, exploration etc.
    People who have careers that make them happy have found work that reflects their values causing a deep sense of fulfilment.
  10. Healthy Life-Work Balance
    With a healthy work-life balance, equal importance is given to career, leisure, relaxing, relationships, family& friends. A person with a healthy work-life balance can switch off from their work and completely relax, values their friends and relationship as much as their work and makes sure all aspects of their life are healthy.
    No matter how much you love the work you do, if you don’t have a healthy work-life balance then eventually the stress will catch up with you.

Working out which of these key ingredients is missing from your career at the moment is the first step towards getting your career back in shape and eliminating the stress it’s causing you.

Once you’ve identified where your career stress is coming from, the next step is to find a realistic solution to the problem
Get your career back in shape and find the work that you love.

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