We live in a very complicated, interconnected and borderless world. A large part of this is a result of technology; mobile, artificial intelligence, cloud, etc… It’s been interesting to experience the technological revolution during the past decade because the theory is that new technological developments are aimed to make things more effective and convenient, whatever they may be — buying groceries, improving safety ratings of public transportation systems, easier access to information, finding a job, and the list goes on for what seems an eternity. Yet, are we as people, better off?
What I mean by “better off” is, are we happier, more satisfied, healthier, wealthier, safer, have better personal relationships, etc…? I can’t answer this question for you but if the most recent world events during the past decade are any indication, I’m not sure we are. Personal stress, financial instability, tense relations between nations and global disease (e.g. coronavirus) immediately come to mind. Through all of these uncertainties, difficulties, conflicts and challenges, we still have to get up in the morning and live our personal lives. I know it’s a real struggle; I live it every single day.
Canadians are in more debt today than ever before. The significantly rising costs of real estate, healthcare, natural resources, taxes, insurance, food and all other basic necessities of life have resulted in a huge shift in how Canadians live. Within the world of work, the average tenure of an employee is the lowest it’s ever been — Canadians will hold on average 15 jobs during their lifetime. Organizations are in a constant state of change, which is the new normal, and at least 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental health problem or illness at work each year. The world of work is being challenged on a daily basis to provide employees with a safe place to perform, thrive and contribute.
What I just described in the above 3 paragraphs is not meant to leave you hanging feeling disappointed. Through all of the difficult circumstances we each face on a daily basis, there are many things that we can each do to combat their potentially negative effects.
I have faced many challenges in my life that include going through a divorce, losing a job, extreme workplace disengagement, having to lay off a group of talented employees, losing a colleague to tragedy and experiencing bouts of depression and extremely high levels of stress. As I always say to my kids, “life is full of curveballs that get thrown at you without warning”. There’s nothing you can do to prevent them. However, you can influence how you react and deal with them when they come your way.
For me, one of the most impactful things I do to positively contribute to living a life of fulfilment and happiness is to help others. The effects of helping (or serving) others are long-term. Nothing gives me more gratification and personal satisfaction than helping others — from advising young business students with their career searches to volunteering time for a social cause that I care about to running SocialHRCamp or helping laid-off colleagues find work.
There is one teeny weeny caveat. I believe that it’s really important for you to be passionate about what you are helping others with. As an HR professional, it’s important to me that I help others in areas that are connected to HR — e.g. job searching, using social media for personal branding, learning how to use emerging technology in the workplace and the list goes on. This is a key ingredient to realizing personal fulfilment and happiness when you’re helping others.
Life will always be complicated, challenging and difficult. We won’t always feel like we’re at the top of our game 24-7. As a Canadian, I know that I live a life of privilege; personal freedom, access to world-class healthcare, personal security, etc… Not only is helping others a critical part of my life, but it is also something that I am able and required to do. A little bit of giving to others can go a long way in making a huge difference in the lives of others, and mine.