Thriving at Work, Excelling in Life: The Unseen Power of Career Well-Being

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Do you wake up each day excited about what lies ahead? 

It’s a fundamental question that holds the key to our overall well-being. Surprisingly, 80% of people answer with a definitive “no.” This question might seem insignificant, but it’s a powerful gauge of your overall well-being. When I first met Valerie, her exhausted demeanor mirrored the answer of the 80%. Despite her impressive resume, highlighting her work experience at a Fortune 500 company and two degrees in Applied Mathematical Science with high honors, she was a picture of stress and overwhelm. Over the past six months, her team members had enough, and many quit, leaving management to shift the brunt of the workload on her dedicated shoulders. She was overworked and undervalued, having trouble sleeping and drifting into a depression. Valerie’s story is a stark reminder that how we spend our time each day shapes our identity, our sense of purpose, and our overall happiness. 

Our lives are greatly influenced by how we invest the estimated 90,000 hours of lifetime work or a third of our waking hours. When we meet new people, one of the first questions asked is, “What do you do?” When our answer aligns with something fulfilling and meaningful, we experience what psychologists call “Career Well-Being”— a state in which we thrive, not just professionally, but in every aspect of our lives.  Yet, for Vicky, it only caused anxiety and reminded her of a reality she wanted to escape.

The Five Essential Elements of Wellbeing

Gallup’s research on well-being shares the five key elements of well-being that we need to be aware of: 

Social: You have meaningful friendships. 

Financial: You manage your money well. 

Physical: You have the energy to get things done. 

Community: You like where you live.

Career: You enjoy and find value in your work.

While career well-being is often underestimated, it is arguably the most crucial of the five elements. Your career is more than a means to pay bills; it’s also our largest investment of time and emotional capital and plays an important role in the success of the other four. It significantly contributes to our overall happiness and fulfillment in life. 

According to Indeed’s Workplace Happiness Report in 2022, “While we try to compartmentalize toxic or unfulfilling work environments, it is impossible to overlook how our work affects other areas of our lives. The majority (86%) of people surveyed stated that happiness at work affects their mood at home.”

What respondents said about the impact of well-being at work: 

60% say their well-being at work impacts their self-confidence in their professional lives

57% say their well-being at work impacts their quality of life

55% say their well-being at work impacts their self-esteem

50% say their well-being at work impacts their personal relationships

Valerie was in a dark place and unsure of what to do next. She was at a loss and  knew a change was imperative. Just getting support took off some of the pressure and helped her to see things more clearly. She determined that she enjoyed the type of work she did but not the work environment. She was able to make a plan and take the necessary steps to better her well-being. Together, we started fine-tuning her mindset, and she built up the confidence to have a conversation with her manager and made a case for a more efficient system that would save time, and asked for a raise for the extra work she had taken on. Her boss agreed. It was a double victory; she not only felt valued at work but also experienced a self-esteem boost. The new system left more time for her to take daily walks and spend time with her family and friends.

The Domino Effect of Career Wellbeing

Here’s the good news: those who manage to hit a high on their career well-being scale are twice as likely to experience a fulfilling life. Their success doesn’t just stop at their job; it echoes throughout every facet of their existence. It’s like tossing a pebble into a pond. The ripple effects are profound, touching upon their social relationships, financial stability, and physical health. 

To prioritize career well-being and create a happy life, consider the following strategies:

Discover Your Passions and Strengths:Take the time to explore your interests and identify your strengths. Reflect on activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. 

Set Meaningful Goals: Define what success means to you in your career. Set clear, achievable goals that align with your values and aspirations. Working towards meaningful goals provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Cultivate a Positive Work Environment: Surround yourself with supportive colleagues and seek mentors to guide and inspire you. Engage in professional development opportunities to stay motivated and continuously improve.

Maintain Work-Life Balance: Strive for a healthy balance between your professional and personal life. Set boundaries and prioritize self-care.

Embrace Growth and Adaptability: Be open to change and embrace new challenges and projects that expand your skills. Develop a growth mindset that allows you to adapt to new situations and seize career opportunities aligned with your values and passions.

Investing in your career by aligning it with these five strategies will lead to a transformative professional journey. Remember, your career is not just a job – it’s an opportunity for growth, fulfillment, and joy.  After all, your career is more than a job – it’s a significant part of the life you’re creating. Annie Dillard says it best, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Make it count.


Marie Parziale is a passionate and dedicated certified coach with over 20 years of experience empowering women in their personal and professional journeys. With a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, her coaching approach revolves around decreasing anxiety and fostering holistic well-being. She deeply acknowledges the impact of toxic work environments on mental health and emphasizes wellness, positivity and resilience in her clients.  You can find Marie on –

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