If you are not happy at your job, you have two options: quit and get a better job that brings out the best in you or start a meaningful project outside work that makes you come alive. Most people don’t have an option at their current jobs, so they choose option two.
Everyone can get caught up in their own bubble and feel like they’re in a rut. When this happens, it can be easy to feel uninspired.
Immanuel Kant once said, “Rules for happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.”
What do you do after work? Does it make you come alive?
More often than not, people struggle to find happiness at work. Only a small number of people manage to find meaning and happiness at the same place of work.
Creating a successful and happy career is more than finding something to do. It’s also about building relationships and finding opportunities outside of work that can help you grow both personally and professionally.
Most people often think of work-life balance as a zero-sum game: If you have a life, that must mean you have less work. But the reality is more nuanced than that.
You can have a fulfilling career and a happy personal life at the same time. It’s rare but possible. Ray Dalio, billionaire investor says it’s the key to success. “Make your passion and your work the same thing”, he says.
And research shows that people who have something to do after work and strong social connections outside of their jobs are happier, healthier, and even more productive at work.
Many jobs get you the basics: a decent income in exchange for your experience or expertise and opportunities for career growth. If you are looking for personal growth and fulfillment at work, you have to push for it.
If you want happiness, which rarely happens, you have to find other sources of happiness outside work.
Luckily, there are many ways to do that while still maintaining a healthy work-life.
Taking on activities outside of work can help you do what you actually enjoy spending time doing and give you insight into new fields that you might want to explore as a career path.
“To be happy in life, develop at least four hobbies: one to bring you money, one to keep you healthy, one to bring you joy, and one to bring you peace,” says Stan Jacobs.
Everyone has their interests, whether building a web project, writing about what you are curious about, playing an instrument, publishing a podcast, or learning a new language.
Some people find joy in digital artwork, painting, or sharing what they learn online through blogging, podcasting or vlogging.
Use your curiosity to find out what to do. Your happiness depends on it.
“When you’re really engaged in a hobby you love, you lose your sense of time and enter what’s called a flow state, and that restores your mind and energy,” says Dr. S. Ausim Azizi, chairman of Neurology at Temple School of Medicine.
Some outside work activities or even side hustles can help you build real-life skills for both personal and career growth.
Something to do outside work can add value to your life, keep your mind active and give you something to look forward to outside of work.
Any activity that helps build your character and makes you grow as a person will do wonders for your mental peace and happiness.
When you have free time after work, the first thing on your mind is what you can do to fill the void. The tendency is to spend more time in front of a screen, so you don’t get bored.
But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything else worth doing. Filling your life with more personal fulfillment will leave you feeling happy and fulfilled even when you aren’t working.
Put your free time to productive use.
“Try new hobbies. Develop new interests. Pursue new experiences. When you expand your interests, you increase your opportunities for happiness,” says Richelle E. Goodrich.
If you feel trapped in the routine of going to work and coming back home again through weekends, fill that void with a passion project: something fun that makes you come alive every day. The goal is to make it your most treasured activity or creative experience outside work.
This article originally appeared in Medium.