I know too many people that are just plain unhappy in their careers working in jobs they despise just to pay the bills. If you are one of them then read on. The main reason people feel unhappy at work is due to how it makes them feel. Generally speaking, we feel good when we do what feels right. What feels right is often influenced by our own core beliefs and values.
So the basic formula in achieving job satisfaction is to ensure the work itself is in line with your values. Supportive staff and managers are of course important as well. I have personally been in jobs that clash with my values and have suffered the consequences.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of job satisfaction on the psyche. After all, we spend most of our lives at work so if we are unhappy in our jobs then we are unhappy most of the time. This can lead to anxiety, low mood, depression, and a whole plethora of mental and physical ailments long term.
Whether we like to admit it or not work affects every area of our lives and more often than not we take it home with us as well. Particularly now with the pandemic working from home has blurred the lines of work and home even further.
Our personalities, life experiences, and ambitions can all be connected through our choice of career. For example, we are not all cut out to be salespeople. For some, the thrill of closing a deal and the banter of selling to customers comes naturally. Knowing who you are, what you believe in, and what you stand for help when choosing a job that aligns with your values. So before you evaluate your current job, start a new one or go back into studies to retrain, you have to be honest with yourself about your goals and values.
It helps to brainstorm at this stage so write a list of your values down on paper. Then list the types of professions and industries you’re attracted to, what salary you would need to live comfortably, and what your professional strengths and weaknesses are. It also helps to list what you do not want and what you are averse to in respect of work ethics and values. For example are you a people person and enjoy face-to-face direct contact or do you prefer working behind the scenes? What roles lend themselves to your preferred way of working? What transferable skills and experience do you have that might fit across the roles you are considering?
- If you are at a crossroads in your career it might help to ask yourself these questions:
- How do I feel about my career right now? Am I feeling fulfilled or frustrated?
- What are the deal breakers?
- What positions or companies have I enjoyed working in so far?
- What roles or companies do I want to avoid?
- What values am I looking for in a job/company?
- What professional interests do I have?
- Do I need to retrain and return to studies or is my skills set enough to switch jobs imminently?
- Where do I see myself in five years?
Having completed the above steps you are ready to seek out a role that suits you and start making applications. However, it is important that you research the companies you apply to. You need to know each company’s values, mission, and background before you get to the interview stage otherwise you will be setting yourself up to fail. Be realistic in your approach and acknowledge that you’ll probably never agree with every aspect of a company but there are some things to consider:
- Is the companies mission and values statement in line with your way of being
- What products or services does the company sell?
- Who are the company’s clients?
- Do you respect what they stand for?
- Read the annual report from the last two years (if available) to see how the company has performed and recognize any pitfalls/positives / negatives about their way of working.
- Can you buy into their way of working?
To ensure you find the right personal and professional alignment you’re looking for, you have to filter through and be selective on the jobs you apply for. Remember all your research and use that to make an informed decision. At this stage, it could help to list the “pros and cons” of each role you are considering applying for. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is it about the role that makes you want to apply- is it just the salary, or the role itself?
- Does the role excite you?
- What worries do you have about this offer
- Do you feel this role will offer you the opportunity for professional growth?
Trust Your Gut
I was once told by a high court judge whilst representing a family in court, that our gut instincts are the years of experience and knowledge accumulated within our psyche. They offer unique insights that help to inform our decision-making process internally. As such we inherently know what is right or wrong for us based on our own life experiences so far. This intuition doesn’t mean that we’ll automatically know exactly what to do next -but offers us guidance and options to explore based on how we are feeling. It helps to trust our instincts and assess what is in front of us. It might be worth trying to visualize yourself working within the company, how does it feel? Do you think you can get along with the staff there? Do you feel confident with the job specification and functions? Can you see yourself as part of that particular company?
Money Isn’t Everything
It can be tempting to take the highest paid role but if job satisfaction is missing and the role goes against your values you may find yourself wanting to change jobs again. Even though it might seem obvious to choose the role that offers more money, remember your goals, your values, and your gut feeling about it all. It’s not all about the money.
Author Kamarun Kalam- Article also published in Illumination Publication via Medium.com