So What Do You Do For a Living?

We all know that work is a huge part of our lives.  It’s so important that many people define themselves by what they do.  It is a leading question when meeting someone socially–the perfect icebreaker, as it were.   Work seems to be even more important today as the  boundaries between work and home life blur.  Thanks to technology, most of us are tethered to the office, or shop, or store–no matter where we are or what we’re doing.   Even on vacation we are available for questions or issues which need our expertise.

 In fact, a recent article on CNN showed that most Americans work almost 45 days a year in overtime–for free!  Whether we like to admit it or not, that kind of toll is a huge drain on our mental and physical well-being.  It’s no surprise that many wellness clients spend a great deal of time exploring ways to turn the demands of  work into a benefit rather than a detriment.

Even in today’s economic environment most people polled will say that money is not the most important aspect of their job.  Actually, studies show that after fiscal needs are met, money has a diminishing effect when determining job satisfaction or happiness itself. 

So if we spend all that time making a living, and money is not the driving factor for job satisfaction, what is?    A Gallup poll shows that people are the most satisfied with their job when they can do something that utilizes their personal strengths.  Simple, right?  Just pick a job  where you can do  what you are best at and the rest all falls into place.  Okay, maybe not so  easy, but it’s a great place to start.  

I would say that a lot people I know didn’t choose their job  because it was what they did best.   I’ve heard all sorts of stories about how people ended up in a career they hadn’t really planned.  But for the most part they enjoy the work.   It just doesn’t really fulfill them.   Vacations, even ones where they are not fully disconnected, and retirement dreams bring more satisfaction than the job itself.

There are ways to bring more satisfaction into your daily work life.  More satisfaction equals more fulfillment.  from there, happiness is often not far away.  Imagine a world where you look forward to going to work!   You don’t need to quit your job and start  fresh (although I can recommend that from personal experience).

 A more realistic approach, and a more secure one, is to determine where your true strengths lie and then find ways to utilize them on a daily or weekly basis.   You don’t need a complete overhaul, either.  Sometimes just tweaking what you do, or the way you perceive your role is enough.  The key, however, is to act in accordance with your strengths and minimize activities that focus on your weaknesses.  Performing tasks that require us to use a lesser strength tends to leave us drained and depleted rather than energized and vibrant.  

If you are interested, you can take the VIA strength assessment on the internet.  It’s free, easy, and only takes about 15 minutes.  You automatically receive a ranking of your strengths, some of which may  surprise you.    It’s a great first step to determining what would bring you more fulfillment in your professional life.   Once you are comfortable with that, you can explore  ways to recraft your job and bring more of those strengths into play.   After  that, who knows?  You may enjoy your job so  much that you don’t even mind working those extra forty-five days a year!

So  how about it?  Do you  get to do something that uses your strengths?  How do you find satisfaction in your job?  Have you found ways to make your work fulfilling personally as well as financially?

If you know someone who would enjoy this post, please feel free to forward it–it’s good karma!

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