By Angela Loëb
The other evening I had the privilege of participating in a discussion about why we work. Reasons we came up with included: to pay bills; for personal fulfillment and growth; to make a difference and have purpose; to fund fun; to enjoy social interaction; and to ensure future freedom from work (making investments and/or arranging retirement). We concluded that everything really falls into two main categories, money and self-satisfaction. These are the reasons for work satisfaction.
This all reminded about a program I watched featuring professional photographer Dewitt Jones, in which he addresses the idea of work satisfaction. “Are you happy?” he asks. Then he makes the challenging suggestion that it’s not always about looking for a new job when you’re not happy. It can be simply about finding a new way of looking at your current job.
I wonder about that. I wonder what would happen if we decided to see what the job is teaching us… and I mean in all areas, including the big picture. What if we asked ourselves, “Why am I here? What purpose has this job served or is serving me?” Of course, this would require us to go deeper than the surface discontent – see past the unhappiness.
While this doesn’t seem to be a particularly pleasant exercise, believe me, it can be quite liberating. I don’t know about you, but I love the feeling of liberation. So let’s say you love being liberated, too, and you want to take that concept a little further. How do you look past the surface “pain”? It’s actually pretty simple, but it means that you need to do some inner clarity work. Oh, and it might help to grab pen and paper. It starts with your perception. A couple of steps later, you’ll be there.
First the perception part. Consider the possibility that your current job is a stepping stone in your path – a necessary piece of ground underneath you which helps you arrive where you need to go. Once you’ve wrapped your head around that, it certainly makes it easier to become objective. It certainly moves you toward finding a new way of looking at your job.
Everything we experience shapes us, readies us our future destination on the journey. So, the next part of the process in getting work satisfaction is to ask yourself, “How is my job serving me in the big picture of my career or career transition?”
Once you’ve come to terms with those answers, the last step is fairly obvious, and that is to get clear on your direction. You’ll wonder, “Where do I go from here?” Are you poised to transition from your current job to a better one within or outside your current employment situation? Or, now that you have cleared the debris of the “pain”, can you picture yourself as the change you wish to see right where you are?
I know two people working for the same company. Both agree that there are dysfunctions in the organization. One is miserable, frustrated and craves to move on to another job. The other chooses to stay and work toward influencing change. She knows that all structures involving people might have dysfunctions from time to time, and she wants to help heal those problems. Different perceptions applying different energies here. But, to each his own, right? Well, maybe so, but we each have to determine why we are where we are before we can decide an action that aligns with our big picture purpose.
Putting it in simple terms, achieving work satisfaction entails getting perspective about where you are (examine perception of current job), why you are there (get philosophical about the big picture and shake off negative feelings), and where you want to go (take action with clarity and objectivity).
If looking at your job in a new way still leads you to conclude that it’s time to move on, so be it. The decision might launch a whole new set of questions, but that’s okay. There’s help out there for the job seeker, too. Whatever you decide to do, do it with clarity of purpose and minus the debris of “pain”. Trust me, that debris won’t serve you if it hangs around during a job search!