How to find your professional happy place

by Pamela Valladares

As I contemplated on a topic for my first blog, I kept coming back to finding my happy place at work. Yes, it seems to be an oxymoron for some of you but, for me, I have been blessed to be able to find a happy place no matter what the job may be. Almost two years ago, I found myself in the same company for more than 26 years. I grew up happily at this corporation. Throughout the years, I found myself in very different roles from entry level to management. My first day at work, I made the decision to make the best out of my role(s) and it almost always worked. Don’t get me wrong, there were many Mondays that I wanted to stay in bed but as soon as I walked through the doors, I was in my happy zone. Taking pride in all tasks knowing that I made a difference in a 40,000+ employee organization. Over a year ago, I realized that I wasn’t as happy as I used to be by doing my day to day responsibilities. I realized that I was not happy. I was exhausted mentally and emotionally. After discussing with my spouse my unhappiness, we decided that it was time to part from my beloved company.

The assumption by most, including me, is that I would find my happy place within a couple of weeks. How could I not be happy immediately? I am blessed to have a support team that helped me through this unexpected period. I overlooked that I needed to mourn my departure from a company that I love and coworkers that are like family to me. I overlooked the adjustment period of working a 65+ hour week to a 0 hour work week. The adjustment of losing part of my identity. I was now “only” a spouse, parent, friend, sibling… and a missing professional title. I finally realized that mourning was the answer.

After my mourning period was over, I began to manage our family small business’ office. I slowly but surely began to find my new professional happy place in a new industry, a new structure, a new boss, with new clients, and a new professional culture. I became intentional in researching the industry lingo, logistics, culture, and technology. I began to implement my corporate skills in my new roll and our small business began to grow and grow. Have you seen the meme that states “a small business owner does a little dance with every sale”? I would like to share that this is true. When I received the call with the first client who came to us because of “my” work, I became Jennifer Beals from Flashdance (1983 film). I had never felt so proud and happy of a professional accomplishment.

I have been able to find my professional happy place, again, by realizing that I need to do my best at all I do and be proud of my work. A cliché for the answer to be so simple. As a parent, I tell this to my children all the time. It took me a year to listen to my own advice. Take pride in all you do and chose to be happy!