I got home late last night. A large project had allowed me to work from home the past 6 -8 months because I was putting in extra hours. However, some said the project was now keeping me at the office as the wind-down was approaching. I had missed both breakfast and dinner. But, I rushed home to make sure I didn’t miss the tuck-in. As I quietly talked with my son, he said to me “Mom, sorry you had to work late. I missed you.” My heart mush. I told him he didn’t have to be sorry; that I love what I do and I love being good at it. Job satisfaction can be considered lucky, for those that aren’t in their dream job. And even still, taboo for those of the population that still believe a woman’s place is only in the home.
I felt so lucky to have a compassionate son, and it had dawned on me that job satisfaction was not something some people are just lucky to find accidentally. And I hadn’t always had it, and many times still hit plateaus and rough spots. But it is possible to create job satisfaction. Yep, as in power is yours. All yours.
And we don’t always have to find a new company to create it. More often than not we can find it in our situations.
1. Analyze and recharge
Our brains, while machine-like, capable of complex computations and quick downloading times, are simply put: muscles. Muscles that get tired pulled and can become incapable of using. As any pseudo-athlete or Sunday yogi knows, you have to rest and recharge your body. Our working minds work the same way: we have to recharge if we want to have optimal performance in the coming days.
So what I started doing was investing in some serious time management skills (read here) and opened up time for me to also invest in the things that bring me joy – time with family, music, learning new skills, etc. What I found is that I wasn’t okay with giving up certain aspects to save the other. I needed those additional areas in my life to be the best version of myself inside and outside of work. When I didn’t make time for these other areas, it cost me more than just time spent on other opportunities.
In our pursuits, we have to be cautious of what we are giving up and where those lines are – for ourselves. If we don’t, we get disgruntled and angry or make ourselves sick with guilt, worry, and anxiety. We have to understand that in our pursuits we make daily decisions to give up something else. What are we giving up? Are we okay with those opportunity costs? If not, we need to make some changes.
It’s a continual process: Clean up your workday (time management), do more of what makes you happy, analyze your opportunity costs and recharge
2. Remember where you’ve been
From stuffing invoices to driving business for successful mergers and acquisitions, I’ve put in a lot of hard work – a lot. When things start to weigh on you at work, think about where you have been. Where you are headed and take stock of where even your current situation aligns (or perhaps can align). Our paths are riddled with stories of doing things we never thought we could do. Better yet is still to come. When we can look back on the road we travel and realize just how much we have accomplished, we can be supercharged for the challenges ahead. Chances are while we were accomplishing those same things, we had some of these same emotions and more than likely on the fence with our job satisfaction rating.
Don’t forget where you’ve been. It could be the answer to where you are going.
3. Switch things up
I ran track in high school. Not a long distance runner. I was a sprinter. But my coach would continuously try to up my mid-distance game. He would require me to compete in races up to a mile. Doesn’t sound like much now, but in high school, it was going to kill me. The best advice I received was that runners switch up their stride, pace, arm movements or breath when fatigue sets in. Switching even small things like that, help your mind and body to push through.
So too, when in a work rut, which low job satisfaction is almost always the indicator, I like to schedule out time to switch things up. I consider myself a project. What does the company need most and even if, outside my wheelhouse, I acquire those needed skills? Do something different. Switch up roles. I switch up how I do things or how I respond. Perhaps I change how I breathe throughout the day. I reconsider how I interpret the day. I switch who I talk to; I switch what my objectives and goals are. But mainly I switch up my skills until my second wind comes in. And it always comes in.
No one can find job satisfaction when the job is mundane, mindless and excruciating for them to even think about. So switch things up. What can you do have an impact that is different than what you did yesterday?