In our culture today, job satisfaction is a highly sought-after treasure. If you don’t have it, then something needs to change. If you don’t have it, you must not be very successful. Most people would consider job satisfaction and career success as going hand in hand. If you Google the phrase “How to be successful,” you’ll find plenty of advice telling you which TED talks to watch, which mindsets to adopt, and which steps will help you achieve a fulfilling life. Type “success” into Amazon’s book search, and you’ll get over 60,000 results.
If you take a poll on what people think of when they think of success, you will probably get a wide range of answers. Some are looking for the highest paycheck. Some want to start a family. Some want to start their own thriving business or company. Some are looking to make a difference in the world.
Everywhere you look, someone is willing to sell you the secrets to success. The question is, do you want the brand of success they’re selling?
In a nearly 80-year study on happiness, Harvard University researchers “found a strong correlation between men’s flourishing lives and their relationships with family, friends, and community.” From this we can gather that for your life to flourish you should probably be spending your day doing something meaningful, serving or benefiting others, and working alongside people you care about.
But “meaningful” is a subjective word. That’s why you need to reflect deeply on what success means to you. There may unfortunately have to be some trial and error here. What you think will be a fulfilling and “successful” field of work may actually end up leaving a void. For instance, many people take jobs on Wall Street because they view success in financial terms. But for some, when they’re in the office 60+ hours a week and barely see their families, they realize that wealth isn’t the holy grail of success. If you’re in a job you hate, a big paycheck can only do so much to alleviate your misery.
I recently met a gentleman who retired early from his role as a high-paid executive at a multinational, multibillion-dollar corporation. Many would think this guy had reached the top ladder rung of success. When I asked why he left, he said he couldn’t stand the cutthroat politics and infighting. He was miserable.
After he left the corporate world, he sought work in a very different environment that was more peaceful and collaborative. He discovered that service is what really mattered to him, yet he had chased someone else’s idea of success until it became too agonizing to bear.
Of course, this doesn’t just happen in finance. Someone might take a job in the nonprofit world only to become burned out on organizational bureaucracy and program failures. Most join this field wanting to make a difference. But it’s possible to end up feeling disengaged and emotionally drained, even with the “best intentions.”
4 Steps to Job Satisfaction
In whatever area of work you’re in, no matter how discouraged or bored you find yourself, here are 4 adjustments you can make today that will profoundly increase your overall job satisfaction.
1. Think Big-Picture
Viktor Frankl was a Jewish prisoner at Auschwitz during World War II. He claims he survived the horror in part because of the other prisoners who depended on him. The smallest of tasks, like peeling potatoes, made a world of difference for someone who was able to eat. Putting his focus outside his own suffering gave him the drive to keep surviving. Later he became a renowned psychiatrist, and in his seminal work, Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl wrote that people are driven by meaning. In life we must find a meaning greater than our own feelings or ambitions, and then dedicate ourselves to that cause.
Most of us will never experience anything close to what Frankl went through, which gives us all the more reason to learn from his example. If you feel bored or disengaged at your job, take a step back. What is your company’s mission? Who are you helping? How does your role benefit someone else? How do your clients or consumers benefit from your daily tasks? Connecting your work to a bigger picture will give you some inspiration and energy to keep showing up and giving your all.
2. Steer Clear of the Comparison Game
Here’s an area where it’s really important to stick to your own definition of success and not look to the right or left, especially if you know you’re prone to falling into this trap.
If you scroll through your Instagram or Facebook feed and don’t have your guard up, all you will see is friends and people who are making more money than you, living in bigger houses, driving nicer cars, and taking nicer vacations. Never mind how different your definitions of success may be. Never mind that Facebook and Instagram don’t tell the whole story. If you’re not careful and not confident in your vision of success, you will easily fall into discouragement and misery when you’re busy looking at everyone else’s exterior.
3. Keep Setting Goals
Instead of looking at others to measure your success and inadequacies, use your own goals to gauge your overall progress.
When you’re feeling unmotivated at work, seek out new challenges. Raise the bar for yourself. Learn a new skill that you can integrate into your job. Long-term goals are great and can help you think big-picture, but sometime small, short-term goals can really help create momentum. Any and every achievement can make a big difference in overall morale and how engaged you’re feeling in the daily grind.
4. Foster Healthy Work Relationships
If you’re feeling negative about your job, you may know full well that it’s because of your boss or the people you work with. But sometimes interpersonal conflict can sneak its way into our lives without us fully processing it. If you’ve become bitter or resentful toward your work and don’t know why, consider whether it could be a people problem. An unresolved conflict with a boss or colleague will really affect the work environment, especially if you’ve been avoiding honest communication about the problem.
Try to meet with your boss or colleague who you are having an issue with. Reinforce the value that you’re on the same team and that you want to work together. You can’t guarantee a positive and easy resolution, but communication generally helps. Remember that in the case of conflict with your boss, your role is to lighten his or her load and support the company. Be clear in your role and you may find your attitude starts to shift a little and, trust me, your boss will notice the difference.
When Your Definition Changes
Something to keep in mind is that, just like your goals and career path, your idea of success will probably not stay the same your entire life. How you define success at 45 years old will be very different from how you viewed success at 21 years old. This is a good thing; it’s a sign of growth. Maybe you had a plan for your career in your 20s, but now you have children, and your priorities are shifting.
Maybe you used to find satisfaction in your job, but you’ve hit a dry spell and don’t find your work all that fulfilling anymore. It’s possible that your job doesn’t fit well with your current goals for your life. That’s ok. It also may not be a situation where you need to abandon ship. Talk to your boss. Most likely, he or she will admire your honesty and will want to work with you to give you the role that you want. Your boss wants you to be successful and may be more open than you think to making some changes to your job so that it’s the kind of place you want to be working every day.
Whether you are simply having a dry spell at your job or are on the brink of despair, know that taking the first step to a new mindset is the hardest. Once you’ve begun to shift your thinking about success and job satisfaction, it will get easier to find joy in the everyday, give God the glory, and start succeeding on your own terms—whatever those may be.
I firmly believe God has made each of us unique with special gifts and abilities, and we are ultimately happiest and most fulfilled when we are living in alignment with our unique design. Instead of trying to be what other people want you to be or what society says is successful, ultimately, be true to yourself to how you were created and seek to understand where your design comes from.
If you’re interested in learning more about opportunities to find your purpose, find job satisfaction, and find a community around that, talk to a Bonvera entrepreneur today. If you don’t have one, contact our customer service team by calling (316) 260 – 2225 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.