“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.