Optimizing for Happiness

Optimizing for Happiness

I recently listened to this episode of the ChooseFI podcast, where J from Millennial Boss talked about her career hacking.  She has made several moves to advance her salary and career, but now she is in a job she really enjoys and mentioned that she is working on optimizing for happiness.

This phrase struck a chord with me, especially since it aired shortly after I interviewed for another job.  Despite being sad when I initially declined the offer, it gave me a chance to reflect on my current situation – and it led me to a greater appreciation for all the things my current company and job have to offer.  I am optimizing for happiness right now and I didn’t even realize it.  Here are some of the factors contributing to that.

My job pays well.  It would be nice to make more, but since I’ve been in the workforce for a while, my pay is pretty good.   My pay looks even better when evaluated in relation to the number of hours I work and the stress level of my job.  I don’t work much overtime, and my job (generally) doesn’t keep me awake at night.  I’ve had jobs in the past, when I made less money, that required more hours of work and involved higher levels of stress.

My job has some great benefits.  I feel blessed that I could easily add Mr. FIREDup to my really good health insurance when he left his job this spring.  I was granted some stock options a couple of years ago and they will be partly vested this fall.  We have a gym at work; it’s free.  It has workout machines, fitness classes, a pool, and a locker room.  I recently found out that spouses can join our fitness center for free, too!  It’s amazing to have the opportunity to head out for a lunchtime run during the workweek when time allows.  Which leads to my next point…

My job has a fair amount of autonomy and flexibility.  I can work from home if I need to.  I can leave for a doctor’s appointment or take an early or late lunch break to get outside and enjoy a run on a sunny day.  My manager trusts me and my ability to get my work done and doesn’t micromanage me.  And in general, I work with intelligent, motivated, capable people.  This is something I likely take for granted as the average level of talent at this company is not typical of all workplaces.

I have amazing time off.  Since I’ve worked for my employer for a long time, I get a pretty good chunk of time off every year (at least by American standards).  My company also has a (paid) sabbatical program that I’ll be eligible for next year!

I don’t waste precious time commuting.  My commute is generally 30 minutes or less round-trip – plus I can work from home on occasion.  If I were to work in another part of the city, that would be 30-60 minutes a day of additional commuting time, which would directly eat into time with my family in the morning and evening.

At this point in my life, I don’t need to chase money, because we have enough to pay our bills; what is more precious to me is time, and I am maximizing that precious resource.  I’m optimizing for happiness.  What a lucky place to be.

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