What Makes Work Worth It?

New Report Shows Hiring and Firing Don't Determine Satisfaction


John Stonestreet

Kasey Leander

Recently, Medium’s Tom Whitwell reported, “a study of 14,000 Australians over 14 years found that neither being promoted nor being fired has any impact on either emotional well-being or life satisfaction.”

The fascinating study compares the emotional impact of a variety of life events, from retiring to going to jail, being robbed, getting married, or having a baby. Some of the results are what you’d expect. For example, major health issues hurt both emotional wellbeing and life satisfaction; and though getting married can be stressful leading up to the event, it brings distinct positives afterward.

But surprisingly, neither getting fired nor getting promoted have long-term effects. That certainly challenges the idea that climbing the corporate ladder is the secret to happiness. 

Of course, other studies show the high value of work in general: as the Harvard Business Review summarizes, “being unemployed is miserable.” All of which points a generation struggling with the meaning of work to the truth of how God made us. Work is a worthy endeavor … but not our ultimate identity.


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