Career Renegade Interview

beach-computerAs always, I’m trying to bring as many perspectives about work happiness to you that I possibly can. Jonathan Fields of Career Renegade is a friend who I met at SxSW and he is also a wonderful writer. I reviewed his book and took away a ton of great ideas. He’s a serial entrepreneur and that’s why I asked him for an interview. Many of you may not want to start your own business, but all of you are entrepreneurs, whether you are working for a company or yourself. It’s up to you to make your career come alive.

That’s why I love this interview. Jonathan is always bubbling with energy and concepts that we could all use to improve our working lives.

Let’s begin…

Karl: How important is work happiness to you?

Jonathan: Mission critical. Your work makes up such a massive part of your life, to strive for anything less than optimum joy from what you do seems just plain silly. I work a ton but it feels like I barely work, because I have so much fun doing it. Does that mean every second is that way? Not a chance. But a solid chunk of my work time is. And that’s priceless, because it not only makes me happy at work, it flows through to every other aspect of my life, especially my relationships with my wife and little girl.

What is one activity that makes you happy at work?

The process of creation. I come alive when I’m given the space and the resources to create meaningful output. Put me in an all operations or production environment and I wither.

How do you maintain balance between your working and non-working life?

I don’t. Balance is a fiction. Time and energy allocation is like a pendulum that keeps swinging through that mythical center point many people call balance. Problem is, you can’t just wave your hand and make the pendulum stop swinging and say, “viola, now I’m in balance!” Life doesn’t work that way.

The more realistic approach to balance is to acknowledge that you are in a constant state of time and energy flux. The pendulum is always in motion and your job is to work to understand why it’s swinging to one side or the other, assess the impact and set up regular feedback mechanisms that’ll tell you when the negative impact outweighs the positive so you can do what you need to do to get the pendulum swinging back the other way.

What is your favorite stress reliever?

Anything with my wife and daughter.

Do you work on being happy at work?

I’m in an unusual position in that understanding the process of being happy at work IS part of my work. So, I spend a solid chunk of my time exploring what makes me and others come alive.

If you are feeling down, what do you do to lift your spirits?

Play with my family, exercise, meditate, walk in the woods, draw, paint, play music. Tons of things, really.

What is your biggest detriment to work happiness?

Focus. I am passionate about so many things, I’m often drawn in many different directions at once and that leads to across the board stagnation…and lack of progress kind of sucks. We’re made to be happiest when we are striving and seeing movement. So, I’m doing a lot of work right now trying to cull my active projects and focus in on a smaller number.

What do you do to stay motivated and productive?

Make sure my work is wrapped around what makes me come alive. Do that, and motivation pretty becomes a non-issue.

If you could give work happiness advice to someone just starting their career in 140 characters or less (Twitter style) what would it be?

Absorb yourself in activities and relationships that make you come alive, then build your living and lifestyle around those fundamentals

If you want to take small steps to build on your work happiness then follow me on Twitter (@workhappynow).


Check out Jonathan’s other blog Awake at the Wheel. Where he covers personal growth, health and happiness.

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10 thoughts on “Career Renegade Interview”

  1. Hi Karl: Jonathan’s book is fabulous and I love how he teaches people to find a renegade path to move toward making money from what they most enjoy doing. He’s a great example of being intrinsically motivated instead of waiting for extrinsic rewards.

  2. Karl and Jonathan great interview. Jonathan really illuminates that if you want to be happy at work and life, you do have to work at it. Many people often miss this and don’t take the time to identify what makes them happy and pursue. Happiness is a verb!

  3. Karl, I completely agree on your perspective of we being entrepreneurs, even when you don’t have a business. Our career is our “service” and it’s up to us to develop it, not our company’s.

    I believe that we are finally understanding that it’s not all about just making money, we also must do something that enrich our lives. Working is an activity that most of us end up doing, whether for fun or obligation. Why not make it joyful as well?

  4. Hi Karl,
    What a great interview, and so much perspective here on being motivated by the work we do. I’m especially drawn to this concept of balance – or maybe more appropriately – harmony in our lives. It’s a shift I’ve been feeling recently, that it’s not really all about balance, it’s more about finding harmony in our life. And so they way Jonathan talks about this as a pendulum is such a great way to look at it.

    Here’s to really finding those people and things that really make us come alive!

  5. Awesome Interview Karl! And a big thanks to Jonathan for sharing his wisdom here.

    I too agree that work happiness is huge! I mean most of us have to go 5 out of 7 days to a “job” and spend almost all day there. I cannot for the life of me imagine how people do it, if there is no happiness there.

    I love too the part of the stress relief …how beautifully loving and romantic 🙂

  6. > The more realistic approach to balance is to acknowledge that you are in a constant state of time and energy flux.
    I like that. It’s a reminder that it’s not just the time, it’s the energy.

  7. Hi Marelisa, intrinsic motivation is important to every career. Jonathan certainly has plenty.

    Hi Lance, keeping ourselves in harmony is a better way of saying it. Balance is such a fine line. The word harmony is much more free flowing.

    Hi Karen, yes, hard work is important otherwise we are just coasting. Working happy is about find a way to enjoy that hard work, so we can accomplish great things.

    Hi Claudia, great point. When we can use work to enrich our lives that’s when the magic happens.

    Hi Evita, stress relief is a talent we must all cultivate within ourselves.

    Hi J.D., time has no meaning when we are deep into something we love to do. Then it’s all energy and enjoying the flow.

  8. What a fantastic interview with incredible advice that I really needed to read today. The pendulum description was wonderful, and I could visualize, as I read it, different points in my life when the pendulum was swinging too far to one side and didn’t feel good. Other times, it’s okay – it depends on the context of what I’m doing and if I’m enjoying it. These days I can blog (write and/or read others posts) for three hours at a time, and it feels GREAT, because it’s what I love to do. Last year when I was working full-time at a job I only sort of liked, three hours would have felt like way too much time to be spending. I would be felt put out.
    Thank you for helping me get some clarity around something I’m working on/thinking about right now.

  9. I like what Jonathan says about balance — we tend to think we can find the magic formula for allocating our time between work, family, and so on, but the problem is that our wants and needs are in constant flux, and we thus need to constantly adjust our “formula” if we want to feel fulfilled.

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