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Job and Happiness: They Don’t Always Go Together But They Can!

Are you having fun? Or at least enjoying yourself when you go to your job? I know some people think work and fun is an oxymoron.

Just so no one is getting hung up on terminology or word usage pick a word that works for you: fun – enjoy – satisfied – pleasure.

If you aren’t having fun in the work you do, you need to figure out what is getting in your way of feeling like that. Your life includes work and you owe it to yourself to make it the best it can be.

Granted, nothing in life is great every day and the same is true for your job. What you have to look at is the general trend of your job. If there are too many days that take the wind out of your sails; you’ve got work to do.

Assuming you aren’t the hard-to-please type of person, to begin with, you need to spend some time asking – and answering the question: What would it take for me to enjoy this job more than I do right now?

To help you on this quest I’ve input an exercise below for you to use now and reuse on an ongoing basis.

Job Satisfaction /n/: a sense of happiness and fulfillment felt by people who enjoy their work and do it well.

In my work as a coach, I have identified ten areas that contribute to my clients’ satisfaction at work. While all of these areas will play a part in job satisfaction to some degree or another, how they are prioritized will vary from individual to individual. The ten areas are:

  1. Financial Reward. Those who approach their work as a means to an end place more emphasis on their paycheck than they do on their interest in the work itself. People who fall into this category are motivated by money, and find fulfillment when they are paid for their performance. Those who fall into this group easily move on when a higher-paying job comes their way.
  2. Stability. Those who see their work primarily as a way to provide for themselves or their family often put emphasis on stability, rather than on advancement or career growth. In tough economic times, particularly when layoffs are rampant and new jobs are hard to come by, those who usually put stability toward the end of their priority list may find themselves moving it higher up the list.
  3. Advancement and Recognition. Those who are motivated by advancement and recognition approach their work with their career in mind. They are more willing to put up with doing things they don’t enjoy in the short term, as long as it allows them to climb the ladder in the long term. People in this group are motivated and fulfilled by power, prestige, and status. Opportunity to move onward and upward—and to see their progress—make them happy.
  4. Impact. Those who are motivated by the impact they have—on the world, on other people, on the field they are working in, or even on the organization itself—are focused on making a difference. They get their satisfaction from contributing, and from understanding how that contribution matters in the big picture.
  5. Process. Those who are motivated by the work itself view their job as a “calling” or as their raison d’etre. When all is said and done they love the actual work itself, and that is their focus. An artist, for example, may find fulfillment in the act of creating, and that may take precedence over fame, fortune of making a difference (which is not to suggest that other artists won’t find satisfaction in those things!)
  6. Structure. Some people really love being part of a team, while others prefer autonomy. Some people love highly defined jobs with clear instructions, while others like forging their own way. For people who place structure high on their list of things that contribute to job satisfaction, the way a company organizes and operates is key to their happiness.
  7. Expression. Those who are motivated by expressing their identity, values, and creativity place high value on working in an atmosphere that allows the work they do to reflect who they are and what they can do. People who place emphasis on expression find the most happiness in an organization that values and seeks out new ideas.
  8. Environment. Workers who are motivated by their environment place high value on enjoying the physical and social aspects of work. They want the physical environment in which they work to be comfortable and supportive, and also want to be able to enjoy their co-workers as friends. People who fall into this group are likely to be dissatisfied by an environment in which their physical or social needs aren’t met.
  9. Relationships. Those who are motivated by the relationships they forge—both inside the organization and out—are focused on interacting with others in a meaningful way. They get their satisfaction from working closely with others.
  10. Balance. Those who rank balance as high on their priority list want to work in an environment in which both professional and personal commitments are appreciated and respected. They are happiest when their personal life doesn’t suffer as a result of their work life and vice versa.

Rank the ten areas that contribute to your personal job satisfaction below, from 1 to 10 (with 1 being the most significant.)

Financial Reward ___ Stability ___

Advancement/Recognition ___ Impact ___

Process ___ Structure ___

Expression ___ Environment ___

Relationships ___ Balance ___

How are your top three needs being met either fully or somewhat at your current job?

What needs are not being met at your current job? Give specific examples.

What are the major gaps you notice between what you need to be satisfied at work, and what are you getting?

Now that you have some insight about you and what’s important about your job, you’re in a position to put together an action plan to address the highest ranking items with the lowest satisfaction. You get out of your job what you put in it and if you aren’t enjoying it; you’ve got work to do. BTW, don’t “endure” being unhappy – your life is too important for that.

This article originally appeared on Introvert Whisperer.