How is Work Going?

When someone asks you, “how’s work going?” what do you say? And on what do you base your response?

When I left a steady corporate job several years ago and shifted to a consulting and coaching business, my income was suddenly unpredictable. And I found myself answering this question primarily based on sales and income.

The problem was that there was more to work than making money. I knew that, yet I was letting that aspect overshadow other aspects.

I have found – especially in times of fluctuating income, career setbacks or interpersonal conflicts at work – it’s helpful to remember why I work. Here are 3 questions I now answer for myself these days before I respond to the question of, “How’s work?”

  1. Am I finding enjoyment and fulfillment in my work?
  2. Am I contributing to others? Am I having a meaningful and positive impact in my work? Not just the what (i.e., the results and impact on bottom line) but also the how (i.e., my conduct and the impact on people.)
  3. Am I growing? Am I building the skills, experiences, credentials and relationships that will help me later in my life and career?

Clearly, income is an important factor in how you feel about your work. And it should be. But identifying and remembering your broader purpose in work beyond making decent money will help you keep perspective and stay grounded. You’ll also be less stressed out, more others-focused and more interesting at the next cocktail party or neighborhood barbeque.
Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. As a leadership consultant and executive coach, he helps executives and their teams improve engagement, effectiveness and impact. You can reach him at or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.