The key to job satisfaction is your attitude.
For many of us, the idea of having a job that is truly satisfying – the kind where work doesn't feel like work anymore – is pure fantasy. Sure, professional athletes, ski patrollers, and golf pros may have found a way of doing what they love and getting paid for it. But is there actually anyone out there who dreams of sitting at a desk and processing paper, or watching products fly by them on conveyor belts, or working to solve other people’s problems?
Career dreams are one thing; practical reality is often another. When they happily coincide, seize the opportunity and enjoy it! Luckily, when they do not, it’s good to know that it is possible to get job satisfaction from a practical choice of career. Job satisfaction doesn’t have to mean pursuing the ultra-glamorous or making money from your hobby. You can work at job satisfaction, and find it in the most unexpected places…
The heart of job satisfaction is in your attitude and expectations; it’s more about how you approach your job than the actual duties you perform. Whether you work on the farm, a production line, in the corner office or on the basketball court, the secret is to understand the key ingredients of your unique recipe for job satisfaction.
Identify your satisfaction triggers
There are three basic approaches to work: is it a job, a career, or a passion? Depending on which type of work you are in right now, the things that give you satisfaction will vary.
If you work at a JOB, the compensation aspects of the position will probably hold more appeal than anything else, and have the greatest impact on whether you stay or go.
If you work at a CAREER, you are looking for promotions and career development opportunities. Your overall satisfaction is typically linked with your status, power, or position.
If you work at a PASSION, the work itself is the factor that determines your satisfaction, regardless of money, prestige, or control.
Inevitably, these are generalizations, and you will probably find that you get satisfaction from more than one approach to work. Being aware of the type of work you are doing, and the things you need for job satisfaction, will help you to identify and adjust your satisfaction expectations accordingly.
Building job satisfaction
Once you have identified the blend of status, power, or intrinsic enjoyment that need to be present in your work for you to feel satisfied, you then need to work on some of our seven 'ingredients' for a satisfying job. These ingredients are: Self-awareness, Challenge, Variety, Positive attitude, Knowing your options,Balanced lifestyle,
A sense of purpose, Self-Awareness
The first step in the search for job satisfaction is to know yourself. If you're to be happy and successful, you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you identify what types of profession will allow you to build on those strengths, and minimize those weaknesses. A useful framework for conducting this type of analysis is a Personal SWOT analysis. You can find a Bite-Sized Training session on how to do this here.
It is difficult to feel satisfied with something you aren’t very good at, so rather than spend time beating yourself up about it, take a long hard look at the things at which you excel, and try to find a position that uses some of those skills too.
Another important component of self-awareness is to have a good understanding of your personality traits and your preferred style of working. A useful tool for this isSchein’s Career Anchors, which helps you understand what you value and what motivates you in your career, (and also what you do not value, and what de-motivates you).
The greater the match between your preferences and the requirements of the job, the more potential for job satisfaction you have. The remaining six 'ingredients' determine how much of that potential you actually achieve.
Some days you may deny it, but we all thrive on interesting challenges. Does this mean your job has to be the head of engineering at NASA? No, different things challenge different people at different times. You just need to figure out what you can do to make sure you don’t allow yourself to go stale at work.
Even if the job itself is not all that challenging, you can make it challenging. Some great ideas here include:
Set performance standards for yourself – aim to beat your previous record, or set up a friendly competition among co-workers.
Teach others your skills – nothing is more challenging, or rewarding, than passing your skills and knowledge on to others.
Ask for new responsibilities – these will give you opportunities to stretch yourself.
Start or take on a project that uses skills you would like to use, or want to improve.
Commit to professional development – take courses, read books or trade magazines and attend seminars. However you do it, keep your skills fresh and current.
Closely related to the need for challenge is the need to minimize boredom. Boredom is a common culprit when it comes to job dissatisfaction. When your mind is bored you lack interest and enthusiasm and even a well-matched job becomes dissatisfying. Some common methods to alleviate boredom at work include:
Cross train and learn new skills.
Ask to be moved to a new assignment or department requiring the same skills.
Ask to work a different shift.
Volunteer to take on new tasks.
Get involved with committee work.
Go on an extended leave, or take a sabbatical.
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