by: David Brown, Jr. and Darrell Fincher
Career satisfaction means something different to each person. But, many will agree that the most critical aspect to long-term career satisfaction is loving what you do. The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
If the key to career satisfaction has been known for so long, then why has it become so difficult to obtain?
If you’re someone that is in a job you don’t love, you’re not the only one. According to the Forbes article, “Most Americans are Unhappy at Work,” Susan Adams reports on the annual survey conducted by the Conference Board, that 52.3% of Americans are unhappy at work. She further reports that what makes employees happiest at work is interest in work that they do each and every day.  Additional research supports that highly satisfied employees have decreased absenteeism and lower stress , while disengaged employees are worse off from a well-being perspective . As the lines continue to blur between our professional and personal lives, being satisfied with what you do everyday truly matters on multiple levels.
So what hope is there for the majority of individuals that are dissatisfied and desire to reach “Career Nirvana?” It means that in order to achieve career satisfaction you have to do things differently and do different things.
The single most important activity that you can do in order to create career satisfaction for yourself is to raise your own “career consciousness.”
Consider career consciousness to be your own level of awareness about your career and all of the knowledge, skills and experiences that make you, YOU. The higher your career consciousness level, the more connected you are to your sense of self, where you are on your journey, next steps and overall sense of purposefulness. When you have a strong understanding of self and purposefulness, you consistently feel good, or in the flow, when at work. Navigating some of the normal pitfalls of the workplace become a bit more palatable because of the feeling of a connection to something bigger than you. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we all have an innate desire to be connected to something bigger than ourselves. Intuitively, meeting that need by doing work that is purposeful leads to higher career satisfaction levels.
These are key questions to ask yourself to understand if you’re doing work that is purposeful to you…and the beginning of gauging your own career consciousness level.
- Do you have an opportunity to demonstrate your values and what’s important to you when you’re at work?
- Do you feel like you are fueled by a connection to something bigger than you?
- Are you following your heart?
If you feel resistance, or a sense of being less than satisfied, then it’s time to start doing the heavy lifting by looking within. The road to true satisfaction in your career (and your personal life) goes through the human heart. Start there, visualize your success and begin developing your new plan.
1 Susan Adams, “Most Americans Are Unhappy at Work,” Forbes (2014). http://onforb.es/tlQwxzp.
2 Kirsten Weir, “More Than Job Satisfaction,” American Psychological Association vol.44, No.1. (2013). http:// www.apa.org/…/job–satisfaction.aspx.
3 Jim Harter and Sangeeta Agrawal, “Workers in Bad Jobs Have Worse Wellbeing Than Jobless,” Gallup (2011) http://www.gallup.com/poll/146867/Workers-Bad-Jobs-Worse-Wellbeing-Jobless.aspx?
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