Job Satisfaction: Why it matters and how you get it

How many people would say they get job satisfaction from their work, in percentage terms? What do you think? The number’s not very high it seems. Apparently it’s only around 20%. Consequently that suggests the other 80% of people all hate their jobs. That’s especially relevant to society because it suggests that a lot of people will not be quite as productive as they might be otherwise.

How about you? Does your work place you in the 20% who enjoy job satisfaction or are you one of the 80%? And does it really matter anyway?

Job satisfaction comes as a result of doing work which gives us a sense of purpose. Most of all it’s from work that gives us a strong desire to do it well. And we’ll only do it well if it matters to us. Doing our work well matters because that’s how we make a difference. Hence that’s how we make a contribution and leave a legacy behind us. So yes, job satisfaction does matter I believe.

Does your work really matter to you? Does it give you a sense of purpose or is it simply the means for paying your bills? Do you get out of bed each morning looking forward to the day ahead?

While it’s true that no job is perfect. Given work takes up a third of our lives it’s essential that we enjoy what we do and derive at least some job satisfaction from it. Maybe there will be some elements of a given job we dislike but mostly we should enjoy what our work because only then can we do it well.

In the inspirational TEDx Talk video embedded below, Scott Dinsmore explains how in the early part of his career he was encouraged to do any job just to build up his resumé. However he very quickly realized that this approach was unwise and resulted in no job satisfaction. He gets his point over with an excellent quote from Warren Buffett who said, “Taking any job just to build your resumé is like putting off sex until your old age.” Why would that make sense?

Work is not about building your resumé. Work should be about adding value and making a meaningful contribution to society. It should be about using your skills and natural talent to make a difference to the lives of others. So if success is your aim then the work you do must matter to you. Find work you enjoy and job satisfaction will follow.

Put simply, if you like the work you do you’ll do it well. And if you do it well people will notice. And once people begin to notice you then you’re on your way to success. So you have to find work that you can’t not do. Something you’d happily do for nothing if you couldn’t find someone to pay you to do it. That is the basis for job satisfaction.

All of this is more easily said than done of course. Perhaps you’ve no idea about what matters to you in terms of work? If you’re relatively young and new to the world of work how could you possibly know? In that case you need to start improving your basic knowledge and awareness.

Know yourself

A good starting point for improving your knowledge is becoming a self-expert. Knowing just what you have in your arsenal.

What are your unique strengths? What are your weaknesses? What fills you with enthusiasm? What fills you with dread? What do you love to do? What do you hate doing?

If I asked someone you knew well what you’re good at what would they say? For what activity do people regard you as the ‘go to’ person? What do people regularly thank you for? What would you do for fun if you couldn’t do it for a living? On what activity could you lose yourself for hours at a time?

By answering these questions and others like them you’ll get a better idea of what you’re looking for. And let’s face it, if you don’t know what you’re looking for you’ll never find it.

Know your values

What do you regard as your set of values? What moral framework matters to you when you’re making decisions?

What would you not do simply because you wouldn’t want to disappoint your family? What would make you feel proud if you were to tell your family that’s what you’re doing?

Anything you choose to do should be congruent with your own set of values.

Know your experiences

The most powerful lessons in life come from the mistakes we make. The lessons we learn from our own mistakes and the things we’ve done are collectively known as experience. And experience is a valuable commodity.

Pay attention to your experience. Think about the things you’ve done right. Think about the things you’ve done wrong.

When have you felt completely in control of a situation regardless of the challenges you face? When have you felt completely out of your depth? Think about the things you’ve enjoyed doing. Think about those activities you really hated.

Know what matters to you

In crude but simple language the underlying question here is, “What is it that you actually DO ‘give a shit’ about?

We tend to do stuff because other people suggest it’s what we should be doing. However it really should be about what actually matters to us.

Identify what it is that makes you come alive and makes you feel energized.

John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi famously said, “Playing the guitar is all very well John but you’ll never make a living at it.” Fortunately John didn’t listen to her and his guitar helped him to make a very lucrative living because he really enjoyed writing songs and playing music. In fact his creative output continues to generate millions of dollars for his estate almost 40 years after his death.

John Lennon did well because he did something he enjoyed doing.

Confidence compounds

By working to your strengths your confidence will grow. Each success you have will improve your confidence. And as your confidence grows, one success will lead to another.

Environment matters too

Jim Rohn once said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most time with.” I think this is very true.

The people around you matter. They influence you and their attitude rubs off on you. Human beings are social animals and we exist within groups. We also have to fit into the group otherwise we’re very quickly ostracized by other group members.

Hang around with people who inspire possibility. Who lift you up and not pull you down. Mix with people who will influence you in a positive way. Find role models from whom you can learn.

How to find and do work you love

Scott Dinsmore’s mission is to change the world by helping people find what excites them and build a career around the work only they are capable of doing.

If you can find the work you are compelled to do then you can add real value to your fellow human beings. Discover what you’re really meant to do and you’ll be on to a winner. You’ll also get maximum job satisfaction.

Therefore in conclusion, if you’ve yet to find what you’re looking for then keep looking until you do.

In the meantime watch the video. It is though-provoking and compelling and it will be a good use of your time.


Recommended Reading

There are plenty of good books that will help you identify your true strengths, as well as help you home-in on the work you should be doing.

In the video Scott Dinsmore suggests Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath as a good book to help you in your quest.

Certainly it is worthy of your time, it’s very useful and I have a copy of it in my own personal reference library. However allow me to recommend another three excellent texts you might also consider. They are as follows:-

Who Do You Think You Are?: Understanding Your Motives and Maximizing Your Abilities by Nick Isbister and Martin Robinson

The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success by Nicholas Lore

Find what you were born for: Discover your strengths, forge your own path and live the life you want by Zoe McKey

I have all of these books in my personal library and I’ve found them all extremely useful and helpful and I use them as reference texts all the time.

You can check them out by clicking on the links. I strongly recommend you take a closer look at them at least but I’m sure you won’t regret it if you actually decide to buy your own copies. Look now whilst it’s all fresh in your mind.

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© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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