If you know anything about journalism or about writing a press release, you will have heard about the “5Ws and an H”. This is the golden rule on how to write a press release and how to write a news story. (Yes, bloggers take note!) The five Ws are:
And the H is:
These are the questions your text needs to answer for readers. Whether you are a writer or not, you can apply this same formula for success in your career, be it a job or a business. By “success”, I don’t mean money or power or titles. I mean happiness.
Who you work with.
The people you work with are critical to your happiness. You spend the majority of your time with people on the job. They might be your co-workers. They might be your employees. They might be a network of Skype buddies and Facebook Group colleagues.
No matter what you do, no matter what your stake in the business, the people you deal with make the biggest difference in how happy you will be doing what you do. To whatever extent you can control whom you work with, pick people who are:
- Positive and upbeat.
- Focused on solutions, rather than on blame.
- Industrious and are never shy to carry their load.
- Respectful of others.
What you do.
This is what most people think of. We are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some of my favorite answers to that question are:
- An aging rock star.
- A trophy wife.
- Elvis Presley.
It’s funny how people ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” rather than , “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
Obviously, you want to enjoy what you do. You might like designing fashion or decorating homes. You might like keeping track of numbers or fixing tech problems. You might like writing or singing or cooking or coordinating event logistics.
You do get to choose what you do. You get to pick what you study. And even if you change your mind, we always hear about people who leave the world of business to do something more fulfilling, like teaching. Or who leave the world of teaching to do something more fulfilling, like preaching.
Ottawa contractor Justin Linden lives by the rule that you should love what you do. “I love to see the happy glint in my clients’ eyes when they see a design come to life. It is a lot of fun and it does not seem like work. What else could anybody want?”
Where you work.
That can make a big difference to your happiness. Some people love working from home; some people can’t stand it. Some people like to live very close to their office, others like a nice buffer zone. Some people choose to commute an hour each way, but long commuting times generally don’t make people happier.
Think about where you work, and organize your life – and your job or business – to get the best out of your location.
When you work.
Most of us don’t think about this, and for most of us it makes very little difference. In certain careers the night shift or the evening shift makes a difference, and you might choose one shift over another based on how well you sleep at various hours and how many people you like working with.
For some people, myself included, having the flexibility to work when I want and to be available at any time to attend to family matters is important. Working online for yourself might be the best option. Or you might not care. You might be fine with 24 hours on call – so why not go into real estate?
Why you work.
Here is something that you might not have thought about. Why do you work?
“For the money. Du-uh.”
Well, yes, of course you need money to survive. But there are a million ways to make money. Why do you do what you do. It seems to me that most teachers, most non-profit employees, all clerics, most nurses and many other healthcare providers have chosen their careers as much for the outcomes as for the process.
For them, it’s not so important what they do as why they do it. The what is still important, as is the who and even the where and when. But it’s the why that drives them. In one way or another, they can all answer the question, “Why did you choose this career?” with the following answer:
“To make the world a better place.”
Not everyone asks that question, and I suppose that’s a good thing. If everybody asked that question, we’d have a world full of smart, healthy people and clean air and water, and we’d have nobody to sell us insurance and build smoke stacks.
The Why is often the critical deciding factor that propels people to become entrepreneurs. As small business consultant Mike Leigh puts it, “Self-employment can have its ups and downs. Being happy doesn’t mean requiring guarantees. Being happy for me is helping others get to a place that makes them feel accomplished and successful.”
Internet marketing expert Ann Smarty agrees about the ups and downs.. “Just like with marriage, there are ups and downs. You cannot quit it every time you are in the ‘down’ period. What counts is when it feels right. If you feel you want to achieve more and you are ready to sacrifice something, it’s probably right. If you cannot imagine your life doing anything else, it’s probably right. It’s hard to describe: You probably know when it’s right and that’s it.”
How you work.
I think this is the most overlooked of the six letters: the H. It is the one that hits work-from-home entrepreneurs the hardest. Many people have that dream to work for themselves. A few people take that dream by the horns and make it happen. They work for themselves.
And you know what they find? They find they are all by themselves.
“Working from home can be awesome, you get to spend more time with your family, get to work when you like, and a lot more,” explains WordPress blogging expert Devesh Sharma. “But it can be hard at times, if you don’t set clear do-not-disturb rules in the house.”
“I love to work as a part of a team in a dynamic environment, but I love to lead the team, to coordinate the team,” says Mr. Weber, with Rapid Wristbands. “For me, it just made sense to take the bull by the horns and promote a business.”
How you work is very important. Some people need noise and commotion around them; others need peace and quiet to concentrate.
Some people need to work as part of a team, a collaborative effort; others need to be able to run with something.
Some people need to lead; others need to follow.
Some people need step-by-step instructions; others need goals and the go-ahead to reach them.
Some people need hand-holding; others cannot stand someone looking over their shoulder.
Some people need the indoors; others need the outdoors.
Some careers can come with many Hows; you just have to choose the right workplace or the right business model to follow. In other cases, you might have to make a compromise.
If you love the idea of being a game warden (the what), but can’t handle being always outdoors (the how), you’ll have to make a difficult decision.
If you want to work for yourself and be the master of your own destiny, but you lose your motivation outside of a team environment, you’ll have to make a difficult decision.
Understanding the 5 Ws and an H, is the first step to a happy work life. The second step is to understand what you need from each of them. Then, you can start to build a career or a business that gives you the most of what will make you happy.
How do you spell a happy work-day? WWWWWH
David Leonhardt, be sure to visit his website thgmwriters.com