18 Ways to Find Satisfying Work

“Unless your work is a source of satisfaction, an outlet for your creativity, and an expression of your important values, you are making unreasonable demands on the rest of your life to satisfy you.” Phil Laut, Money is My Friend
Phil Laut captured the essence of job satisfaction in his 1999 book, Money is My Friend. Essentially, Laut was saying that job satisfaction is a precursor to overall satisfaction. So, we can approach the entire satisfaction thing is one of two ways: 1. find a job and learn to be satisfied with it; or 2. find your satisfactions, the motivations behind why you do virtually anything, then find or create a job that matches your motivations and you will derive satisfaction from your work.
Now, approach number two seems to be the more difficult path and, indeed, if jobs are abundant and you have the ability to try numerous jobs that will pay you to learn, then number one, become satisfied with the job you find (See Shakespeare quote below)  sounds most reasonable. But is number one more realistic? Or is it number two.
After working with people in transitions for over 25 years, I have found that the second approach is best for those who know their talents and strengths. Number one will work for anyone who can create his/her own mindset no matter what the field.
The question revolves around YOUR motivations and the kind of satisfaction you are trying to derive.This is a very brief synopsis of work motivations:
1. Spend more time with family and friends (perhaps by working from home)
2. Control of your time, (as an independent contractor)
3. Independence of thinking; opportunity to try your own ideas (as an entrepreneur?)
4. Recognition (a job in the public spotlight)
5. Wealth (as in the field of finance or real estate)
6. Less stress from the demands of others perhaps in a service business or non-profit)
7. Satisfaction of curiosity about yourself (at a job with rapid, discontinuous change)
8. More variety of work (in a position that requires real flexibility)
9. Time to think about your personal philosophy (management)
10. More nurturing relationships (perhaps in one of the caring fields)
11. Exploration of the unknown (exploring outer- or inner-space, outdoors or foreign lands)
12. More creativity (putting your artistic or mental talents to the test)
13. A sense of being responsible and in control (management);
14. Escape from the frustration of carrying out someone else’s plans (explorer, scientist, or entrepreneur)
15. Better use of your talents (a field in which you are familiar but one in which you have more time to do the things you are interested in
16. More time for travel and personal pursuits (maybe the travel industry, outdoor photography, or something else that puts your time to work for you
17. Part-time work (many people have composite careers doing one thing during Spring and Summer, another in Fall and Winter
18. Bigger contribution to society – search for a cause that really gets the fires burning in you and seek to use the skills you have to make the world a better place.
If one or more of the above sources of job satisfaction seems a likely path for you, the next step is to determine what your intrinsic strengths are that will enable you to pursue that path.

Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 239–251
Hamlet:
What have you, my good friends, deserv’d at the hands of Fortune, that she sends you to prison hither?

Guildenstern: Prison, my lord?

Hamlet: Denmark’s a prison.

Rosencrantz: Then is the world one.

Hamlet: A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o’ th’ worst.

Rosencrantz: We think not so, my lord.

Hamlet: Why then ’tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.

What is Your Purpose?

Some say that the very purpose of human existence is to get acquainted with your own essential qualities and express them in  your daily activities.” Michael Ray and Rochelle Myers

What are your essential qualities? If you don’t know them, how do you discover them?

There are a couple of tests. One is the division by 3 test. Let’s say you are 30 years old. Divide your life into 1/3s 0-10, 11-20, 21-30. What were the significant accomplishments and important lessons of each 13 of your life?

For example: 1-10 -learning to go to the bathroom and dress yourself on your own,  learning to ride a bicycle, learning to read and write, playing ball on a winning team, etc.; 11-20 – your first girlfriend, membership on a winning team in high school, getting into/graduating from college, getting your first part-time job, starting your first business, etc.; getting married, having your first child, getting your first full-time job, learning to fly an airplane, etc.

Now, rate each of these experiences on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being least important and 10 being most important. You can have more than one 10 in a segment of your past.

Now what did your first 10 in life feel like? Did it happen when you were doing something on your own, or with others? Was it indoors or outdoors? Was it when your were working (or studying)? Were you engaged using your hands, your mind, your voice (singing, speaking), your eyes (bird watching or studying with a microscope), or your ears (listening to great music or the heartbeat of another person (or animal)? Maybe it was when you were overcome by a powerful and impressive smell (toxic fumes, or beautiful perfume)/ What was it about your first 10 experience?

Continue to do this same exercise with your second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. #10 experience.

Skip all the other numbers except the #1s. Why were they #1s? What made them so bad? Using the same type of analysis for your peak experiences write down the signts, sounds, smells, tastes, and feels of the worst experiences.

Do this for the next period of your life and then for the final third. Look for peak experiences and the commonalities of each time grouping. Did your peak experiences all have a great sound to them, or a great feel, or a great smell. What did they have in common? Is it a profound learning experience? Or a profound interaction with another person or thing? Perhaps you were involved with an animal or animals.Look for common ground.

Now, shifting gears once again, what did the bad experiences all have in common? Could it be the absence of the positive thing? Maybe you were all alone with your bad experiences and all your (or at least most your peak experiences were as a member of a winning team or whenyou were working with others? If so, what kind of others were they?

Work this exercise through for a few hours. Yes, hours. Put it aside and then go back to it.If you’re not able to discover the commonalities, then ask a friend to help.

Here’s what you may find: Your greatest satisfactions and peak experiences all happened outdoors when working with others using tools (or equipment) and during the summer or spring. Or your best experiences occured when you passed a test that you had studied for all on your own, or with the occasional assistance or a friend or tutor. The picture in your mind is filled with sounds and colors, or it is just an image. but it is so real that you can still feel it.

If your peak experience came when you were on the job (which is frequently the case with people in their 40s and 50s), then what was the job? With and for whom were you working? What made it feel so good? Was it the primary/intrinsic fact of having overcome an obstacle and or completing a difficult taks? Or was it secondary, the  bonus you recieved or the vacation trip that the organization paid for?

If your satisfaction with your accomplishment comes primarily from the external reward, then maybe we should be looking at the reward rather than the work.

We’ll talk more about satisfactions and rewards in another post.

Define Your Purpose

Wonderful chances are hiding among ordinary sights.  But only the person who is strongly aware of his or her purpose can see them.” Kazuo Inamore.
“Some say that the very purpose of human existence is to get acquainted with your own essential qualities and express them in your daily activities.” Michael Ray & Rochelle Myers
As stated in a previous post, the knowledge of your own particular purpose in life is essential to a successful career, or job search, or relationship. Self-knowledge is key. And, once again, our (your) educational background may be the cause of your struggle. Let me explain. The words educate and education are derived from the Latin root ‘educare’ which means to bring out from within. The assumption being that when we ‘educate’ a person we bring out from within them the characteristic strengths that make them unique. Unfortunately, our ‘education system’ is primarily directed toward the reduction and/or elimination of all characteristically unique qualities that make us truly human, special, and valuable to an employer. This is exemplified by ‘standardized tests’ and rote memorization. This is not to say that standardized tests and rote memorization are per se the problem. But, when they are the basis of an ‘education’ system it can and should be argued that something other than education is being performed, perhaps we should call it indoctrination or standardization of input.
The current system of education speaks more directly toward a predefined purpose, one predefined by someone or something outside the student. And it requires two things: 1. Knowledge of what the person will (or should) become when fully educated. 2. A static future where all progress is incremental rather than discontinuous and unpredictable.
Upshots from this are drugging children who act out in class and punishing students who think independently. Considering these two things, it is remarkable, isn’t it that the United States of America has (or had) a reputation for being the most creative nation on earth. This, however seems to be changing.
If I were to speculate as to the cause of our current economic and social dilemma (both in the USA and worldwide) I would say that we have moved too far away from the dictates of Thorndyke’s Law, simply stated, “That which gets rewarded gets repeated.”
How does this apply to defining your purpose?
The answer is simple. If one is rewarded for doing one’s best, that which comes most naturally to him or her (provide it comports with a civil society) then the individual will become better and better at it and society will benefit because the energies of the individual will lead to advancements and beneficial change. (Think Einstein, Jobs, Edison, Disney, and countless others.) It is through intelligent rewards given for the beneficial use of one’s talents and strength that we have shown such remarkable progress throughout the centuries.
Deep within this remark is the clue to your ultimate success. Once you truly know (and sometimes you only stumble upon) your strengths, you will, if rewarded, find ways to use your strengths for greater and greater rewards. Provided, that is that the system (economic, social, political, etc.) will allow you to accrue those benefits to yourself and others of your choosing.
Clearly this is not a socialist system but is at its root quite the essence of capitalism.
This brief article has only the intent of placing the choice before you. Implicit within this article is the profound, Christian belief that all persons are created equal, but different and that each person has within him/her the ability to make significant beneficial impacts upon themselves, their families, their community, and the world, provide they are not prohibited from doing so by an external and coercive force.
Thorndyke’s Law applies in the negative as well. If we as a society reward the wrong things, things that are not beneficial, but actually detrimental to our best interests as a society, then due to the rewards we receive more and more of the negative behaviors that are being rewarded.
How does this apply?
Suppose a person has great ability (strengths) to build magnificent, beautiful structures and the rewards from society are not for building but for destroying, based upon the reward structure, the individual will in all likelihood, apply his strength to the destructive endeavors that provide the greater rewards.
I’m getting off the mark a bit here. But, there is a very important point, If you know your strengths, regardless of the external rewards offered, you can choose to apply your strengths in positive (i.e. life-enhancing) endeavors and make positive contributions to the betterment of society. We all have these intrinsic strengths. But only we can define our ultimate purpose

Welcome to Your Future – Living Your Life On Purpose

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” Robert Byrne

“ Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Helen Keller

Many books, poetry, and other literature have been written about purpose, I hope you’ve read them. And yet, in my work with unemployed and under-employed individuals in this economy I have found that nearly all of them have no idea what their purpose is in life. Not only don’t they know their purpose, they are almost totally clueless as to how to find it. This is a shame and is probably due to our (American) educational system.

For over two hundred years boys and girls were (and still are) taught that they were being trained to get good jobs when their schooling was complete. There are two major flaws in this thinking: 1. The future will be just like the past, only more so. 2. Education is complete with a college diploma..

For those of us who are aware during this era of discontinuous change, where mighty corporations have fallen and the jobs that were the staple of the industrial economy have been eliminated by the service/information economy, it is quite obvious that premise 1. is totally false. And, it is premise 2, Education is never complete It is the need for lifelong learning that has made it so.

We’ll talk more about how this came about at another time. But, the fact of the matter is that things will never be the way they were and unless you are willing to learn the new skills for the new economy, lifetime unemployment or underemployment is your future.

Another myth is that jobs are or will be created. They won’t. But work is abundant and people will pay for it. So a steady job with benefits may not be the future. But, if you know your strengths and the benefits you can bring to a situation, you can work steadily.,

The key is purpose. And purpose is built into you in the form of your intrinsic strengths.

So the new formula for success is: know your strengths and the problems you can solve. Then look for opportunities to apply your strengths (your purpose) and finally learn how to sell yourself as the answer to those problems. The result will be steady, meaningful, rewarding, gainful employment.

Are you ready to learn how?