Look around you.
There’s a good chance you’ll see co-workers who are unmotivated, disengaged, and just calling it in. Last year, Gallup’s research showed only 36% of the American workforce are engaged in their work. The rest of us are less than fully committed to the work we do each day.
But we want to be, right?
There’s plenty of science out there that shows finding meaning in your work increases happiness. Meaningful work increases motivation and empowerment, not to mention job satisfaction. Yet about 60% of American workers aren’t getting this kind of positivity from their careers.
If you’re in that 60% of the workforce who are disengaged at work and you’re tired of just going through the motions, this article will help you build a more rewarding career path.
WHAT MAKES FOR CAREER FULFILLMENT?
We assign significance to our work in a variety of ways. Some find meaning in receiving a paycheck to provide for their family or achieve personal goals. Some may take more pride in performing their job well. Those in service-oriented positions may be fulfilled by helping people or doing something to serve the greater good.
What about the rest of us?
Sometimes this is all a matter of perspective. You can have a manual laborer perfectly happy in their work and proud of what they built. There are also corporate administrators who make five times as much sitting in meetings all day with nothing concrete to show for it…and who may feel completely miserable.
The reality in these two examples is that finding meaning in your work doesn’t necessarily equate to money or a college education. Most jobs have difficult days. What can you do right now to help move you toward the kind of job fulfillment that we all want but very few of us have?
FIVE WAYS TO CREATE A FULFILLING CAREER PATH
- Don’t settle for stagnation. Some of your disengagement may stem from boredom. The job may have been fulfilling originally, but after a few years, the routine itself can grow stale. If you don’t want to leave the job, why not experiment with taking on new responsibilities? Can you learn a new skill? Are there processes you can improve upon? Sometimes recreating fulfillment in a job that’s grown old requires some freshening up of your existing tasks.
- Set some goals to achieve. You can tip the scales to a more fulfilling career by setting some kind of growth goal — and that goal doesn’t necessarily have to be directly related to your job. Maybe it’s an internal goal, such as incorporating more exercise into your daily routine or eating out less. Maybe it’s an external goal like saving more money or going on vacation. A job is always a means to an end but if you lose track of what that end is, of course you’re going to be frustrated.
- Hold yourself accountable. Once you’ve set your goals, it’s time to hold yourself accountable to them. This kind of drive can be hard when you feel unhappy but refocusing on the prize ahead will change your outlook. If you aren’t happy with the work, setting a goal and then achieving it can provide the meaning and fulfillment you may have lacked — even if the goal is to find a new job.
- Find what you like about the job. Come on. There has to be something you like in your work, right? Try thinking about the parts of the job you like versus the parts you hate. Then try to gravitate toward the parts that you find fulfilling whenever possible. Try this game: Do the things you hate the most at the beginning of your day. Get it over with. Then focus on the parts of the job that you find more fulfilling. Look for the parts of the job where you work and lose track of time; that is the “flow state” where you are probably the most satisfied in your work. Are there interruptions that keep you from achieving the flow state? If so, see how you can change your workflows to minimize these disruptions and focus on zoning out in the more satisfying aspects of your job.
- Take a realistic look at your work. Is it the work that makes you unhappy or your boss? Do you have lots of friends at work and a good culture, but you are bored with what you do? Could a lateral move or promotion help you reengage in a way that makes your work meaningful again? Sometimes the only way to create a more fulfilling career is to look for a new job. That’s where a staffing recruiter can help. Recruiters can work with you to discern your transferrable skills and help you switch careers. They can connect you with opportunities that are a better fit for your future.
Human beings want job satisfaction, but few people know how to get it. These tips are the next step toward achieving what may seem unattainable right now — but change can be yours if you take the steps necessary to finally get the career fulfillment you want and deserve.