The Ohio State University Alumni Association

Hero image

Getty Images

Six steps toward career wellness

Simply put, being unhappy at work puts your health at risk. On the other hand, your body and mind reap benefits when you find a job that aligns with your purpose and areas of passion. At Ohio State, career wellness is one of the nine dimensions of wellness that intersect to create your total well-being. What is career wellness? It’s engaging in work that provides personal satisfaction and enrichment and is consistent with our values, dreams, purpose and lifestyle. If burnout, stress and dissatisfaction are common themes for you, it may be time to re-evaluate your career well-being. Here are six ways to start finding your way:

1. Start by asking: What gives me joy?

List activities, people and places that make you feel happy and alive. Include your favorite moments at any job. What made them special or energizing? Consider a position that would give you access to more of what gives you joy.

2. Next, consider if you’re a people person.

Some folks find interacting with others all day makes them energized. Others get exhausted. How often would you like to interact with people during the day? If your present level of human contact is wearing you out or leaving you lonely, make a list of jobs that might be more socially satisfying for you. Do any of these stand out?

3. Find a sense of purpose.

Many researchers agree that a sense of purpose in life is key to happiness, and work often is where we find it. Who would you like to be helping? What causes excite you? What kind of work most aligns with your values and beliefs?

4. Discover your hidden strengths.

Ask co-workers or friends who have known you for a long time to name your best qualities. You may learn something new about yourself. One man whose team was going through many challenges was surprised to learn others thought of him as a source of quiet calm and persistence. His ability to carry on in an emergency made his co-workers feel like they could cope, too. He realized that a high-stress environment didn’t bother him as much as it did others, and he began to consider taking on leadership roles.

5. Consider small steps.

Although you may feel like starting all over in a completely new direction, a subtle shift in your career path may be all you need. Ask yourself which elements of your job you don’t want to part with and how your experience might apply to a similar role.

6. Evaluate your location.

Is it time to take your career to another location that makes you happier, perhaps closer to family and friends, or maybe to a place you’ve always dreamed of being? Brenda Buffington, assistant professor in the College of Nursing, relates in American Nurse Today that she was thrilled when her career took her from Columbus to Colorado Springs, Colorado. When her father in Columbus became ill, she moved back to be close to family. Colorado’s beauty was abruptly less important. Both moves were right for her and kept her energized in her career. “I needed to go there to get back here,” she says.

About the author

About the author

Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk

Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk is the university’s chief wellness officer, vice president for health promotion and College of Nursing dean.