Johanna's story: finding a balance in everyday life is the key to happiness

Career story

Even a self-critical perfectionist can learn to find happiness in small everyday matters and a balanced life.

I've been working since I was 15. During my studies, at best, I had three different jobs. In the evenings, I worked in a fast food restaurant or grocery shop, and on weekends, I worked as a product demonstrator in grocery shops, offering new things for customers to taste. It was important to me that I didn’t need to take out a student loan and I could manage on my own. I completed my studies within the target schedule, so working did not slow down my studies at any point. I've always been a certain kind of an achiever and actor.

I’ve also gained work experience in an outdoor shop, clothes shop, furniture shop, telemarketing, etc. Customer service has always been easy for me, but I never became a superseller. This was because I believed, first and foremost, that when a customer receives the kind of service that meets his or her needs, he or she will also return to the shop. Pressuring people into buying additional things or trying to sell the most expensive items only were not my thing.

By my education, I’m a Master of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. In fact, I’m definitely an eternal student to some extent, since I've done specialisation studies in project management, community communication as well as the role of an HR expert. In addition, I’m a dedicated craftsperson and, through that, a dressmaker and furniture upholsterer. I certainly have some new study modules ahead of me, but it’s always a good idea to take a short break between them, to build up a good amount of motivation to study!

Customer well-being still a matter of honour

Although years have passed, I’m still actually working in customer service. I've just changed the shop environment to office premises. At first, I worked as a marketing assistant in a small consulting firm, responsible not only for marketing and IT support but also for assisting our own consultants in customer projects.

Then two wonderful children were born into my family, and I wanted to get a job closer to home, so that I would have more free time every day. At the moment, I work as an office secretary at the local school of our area, and my customers include about 100 staff members and more than 900 pupils and their families. The work at school is versatile: a mix of expert work, HR functions and customer service.

I’ve been allowed to do a lot of things that are not normally part of the office secretary's job description, and for that I’m grateful to my supervisor. The comprehensive school where I work is big, so there’s a lot to do. People trust me, and I feel appreciated in my work. I’ve also been able to make extensive use of everything I have studied. But perhaps the most inspiring and pleasing tasks are still ahead of me because I feel that I have what it takes for more demanding tasks as well.

Personally, I have not met major challenges in working life. On the other hand, I haven't always gotten where I wanted. At the moment, I’m making some long-term efforts so that I could return to the private sector at some point. My dream would be working in HR in a small or medium-sized Finnish company! But before that, I will continue doing my best in my current job.

I particularly enjoy having my everyday life in balance because my work is not stressful, and I have quite a lot of free time when I can do what I want.

Dreaming of any kind is wonderful

As the singer Irwin Goodman said it, “The world is beautiful, and it is good to live there, where there is time and room for dreams and freedom of mind”. This is my maxim today, and I believe in it 100%!

In my childhood and youth, I had relatively normal career dreams. For example, still in primary school I thought about becoming a hairdresser or a lorry driver, whereas, when studying at the upper secondary school and the university of applied sciences, I was aiming for the generic title of a manager. None of these were realised professionally, which is good.

At least for the time being, I can still cut my own children's hair and trim our silky terrier, but I wouldn't like that as a job. I can manage driving my car for short distances, but on any longer journeys it’s better that I’m just a passenger in the car, as I tend to fall asleep easily. And, of course, we are all managers of our own lives, but I no longer feel that leadership in itself is worth striving for.

Today, I dream more about job descriptions related to well-being at work. For me, it’s important to be able to influence and get things done.

And if I get very wild, I dream about setting up a small handicrafts café in an old shed or barn! 

Everyday balance

Fortunately, when I was little, nobody urged me to decide what I will be when I grow up. I got to seek and try things on my own and move forward. I can still do more "careers" than one before I retire. Of course, changing from one field to another does not always happen so quickly, but I have accepted the idea that everything will not happen to me right here and now. You must just persevere and keep on working for what you want. You must be able to push yourself harder from time to time.

In my opinion, working life or life in general is not so stressful when you accept that it is not always fun. When you learn to tolerate some unpleasant times, you can enjoy the good times even more. However, you must take care of your own well-being. If something makes you feel dissatisfied for a longer time, you should seek your way out in time.

I personally try to balance my life so that if I have a busier period at work, I slow down at home. And the other way around. I have learned to be merciful about my own demands, and I no longer slave over everything. I will never be able to fully get rid of my perfectionism, but the edges have become softer.

Handicrafts and reading are great ways to detach myself from work. Luckily, the dog takes me to daily walks and into nature, which is also a lifeline for me. I’d like to do more sports, but I don’t have a similar passion in this respect as I have for handicrafts, for example. In addition, I take reflexology sessions on a regular basis.

Sometimes, there are times when I feel more tired than usual, but I accept the feeling and do some self-reflection and try to maintain my trust in a better tomorrow!

Johanna Korpi