How closely does your work situation match up with your dreams?
For most of us, there’s a pretty significant gap between the reality we have at work and the reality we’d like to have. And that’s a problem, because when our working situation is not entirely satisfactory, we tend to lose motivation, turn in less than our best work, and perhaps even dread certain moments on the job.
The closer you can bring your real-world work situation to your dream situation, the more satisfaction you’ll receive. And with more satisfaction available, the more productivity and excellent work you’ll deliver, and the more success you’ll obtain.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to boost your level of satisfaction at work.
It doesn’t matter what you do, anything from digging ditches to pushing paper, from saving lives to inventing new algorithms. If you can “tune up” your job to be more in line with the elements that satisfy you, you’ll be more motivated to do your work as well as you can.
Let’s take a look at the some of the elements that help you boost your satisfaction at work:
If work is too easy, it becomes boring. If work is too difficult, it becomes frustrating. But if work presents you with a regular series of “just right” challenges, it keeps you motivated to try hard, perform well, and feel satisfied when you succeed.
You may not have enough control over your work that you can set it up to provide regular challenges of just the right degree. But even so, you can add some challenges to your work to keep yourself motivated and satisfied. For example:
- You can adjust your pace – how long does a particular task take you, and how many can you complete in a given time?
- You can adjust the mix of work, so you “gang” some similar tasks together for efficiencies of repetition, or mix them up to provide variety.
- You can add in some new procedures or methods – even new responsibilities – so that accomplishing your work requires additional knowledge, new skills, or special attention to detail.
- You can show others how to do your work, and have them show you how to do theirs.
- You can take courses, read books, earn certificates, or find other ways to increase your level of work knowledge and understanding.
Depending on what work you do, there may be other ways you can adjust the level of challenge to increase your satisfaction.
Enjoy Your Progress
Most of us feel at certain times that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But since that’s not always true, it’s usually more productive and satisfying to develop more appreciation of the grass on which you’re already standing.
In the context of boosting your satisfaction at work, this means studying and itemizing the good things about your current work situation, and particularly recognizing your progress over time toward bigger and better things.
To begin, make a list of your achievements in your current position. If you’re relatively new here, look even further back at your achievements in previous work situations. What have you accomplished? What have you learned? What capabilities have you added to your portfolio?
Now that you know how far you’ve come, think about how far you’d still like to go: what new accomplishments, know-how, and capabilities can you aim for?
Keep both these lists up to date, and go over them regularly. The longer and more impressive your lists become, the more satisfied you will likely feel in your current position.
Balance Work and Life
“All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl.” Even worse, it makes her dissatisfied with her current work position.
Since you already know this to be true, make an effort to put this idea into practice in your own work and life:
- No matter how heavily work responsibilities are pressing on you, make time at regular intervals for your family and friends. Don’t just “hang out” all the time, either. Plan activities with them that will bring you an extra measure of satisfaction.
- At the end of every day, leave some work undone. This not only ensures you’ll have more time for family and friends, when you return to work it helps you get started more quickly on an important task.
- Just as it’s important to challenge yourself at work, it’s also important to challenge yourself away from work. Explore opportunities to develop hobbies, interests, and relationships so your personal life is exciting and worthwhile.
- Remember that variety is the spice of life. Keep out of lifestyle “ruts” by putting yourself in new situations from time to time. No matter how well they turn out, their “newness” will generally make your life more interesting.
- Cultivate a more positive attitude. If you can find ways to view your life as “half interesting” instead of “half uninteresting,” you’ll feel more satisfied with every activity and the events of every day. This extra satisfaction will improve your work/life balance and automatically bleed over into feeling more satisfaction at work.
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