Job satisfaction: How to make work more rewarding

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Job satisfaction: How to make work more rewarding

Do you find yourself dreading the start of the workweek? Or wishing the workday away? Are you no longer enthusiastic about your job? In a challenging economy, you may not feel that you can "vote with your feet" and simply change jobs — but you might be able to change how you think about your job to improve your job satisfaction.

Understand the link between work approach and job satisfaction

If you've gone sour on your job, take some time to think about what motivates and inspires you — and how you approach your work. For example:

  • It's a job. If you approach work as a job, you focus primarily on the financial rewards. The nature of the work may hold little interest for you. What's important is the money. If a job with more pay comes your way, you'll likely move on.
  • It's a career. If you approach work as a career, you're likely interested in advancement. You may want to climb the career ladder as far as possible or be among the most highly regarded professionals in your field. You're motivated by the status, prestige and power that come with the job.
  • It's a calling. If you approach your job as a calling, you focus on the work itself. You're less interested in financial gain or career advancement, preferring instead to find a sense of fulfillment from the work itself.

One approach isn't necessarily better than the others, and you might find elements of all three perspectives important. Still, if you're unsatisfied with your job, it's helpful to reflect on why you work. Think about what originally drew you to your current job, and whether it may be a factor in your lack of job satisfaction.

Consider strategies to improve job satisfaction

Depending on the underlying cause of your lack of job satisfaction, you may have many options for increasing your job satisfaction. For example:

  • Create new challenges. Take on a project that can motivate you and give you a sense of control. Start small, such as organizing a work-related celebration, before moving on to larger goals. Working on something you care about can boost your confidence and job satisfaction.
  • Mentor a colleague. Once you've mastered a job, you may find it becoming routine. Helping a new team member or an intern advance his or her skills can restore the challenge and the job satisfaction you desire.
  • Break up the monotony. If you're feeling bored or unchallenged, talk with your supervisor about cross-training. Perhaps you could train for new or additional tasks. If you hear that your company is launching a new project, volunteer for the team.
  • Stay positive. Use positive thinking to reframe your thoughts about your job. When you catch yourself thinking your job is terrible, stop the thought in its tracks. Remember, everyone encounters good days and bad days on the job.
  • Look for the silver lining. Imagine that you receive a less than stellar performance appraisal. Instead of taking it personally or starting to search for another job, look for the silver lining — such as the opportunity to attend continuing education classes or work with a performance coach. Take satisfaction in your ability to put performance feedback to work.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Don't let failure defeat you or erode your job satisfaction. When you make a mistake at work, learn from it and try again. Perhaps the mistake will eventually lead to a great success.
  • Be grateful. Gratitude can help you focus on what's positive about your job. Ask yourself, "What am I grateful for at work today?" If it's only that you're having lunch with a friendly colleague, that's OK. Find at least one thing you're grateful for and savor it.
  • Nurture your passion. If your job satisfaction has waned but seeking a new job isn't a realistic option, you might consider your current job as a welcome paycheck that allows you to focus your energy on an important hobby or interest outside of work. Sometimes work is simply a means to enjoy those things you're truly passionate about.

More job satisfaction can mean less stress

Whether your work is a job, a career or a calling, you can take steps to restore meaning to your job. Make the best of difficult work situations by maintaining a positive attitude. Be creative as you think of ways to change your circumstances — or how you view your circumstances. Doing so can help you manage your stress and experience the rewards of your profession.

Last Updated: 2010-09-30
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