5 essential ingredients for career fulfillment
The idea of pursuing fulfilling work has grown in popularity in recent years, especially with the new generation of workers. As the world keeps developing, more and more people yearn to have a career that is meaningful and fulfilling. Work is no longer about survival and pay; people want a career that brings satisfaction to their lives.
But what makes a career fulfilling? The answer can vary from one person to another; however, some essential elements need to be present to make one’s career satisfying.
In this post, I’ll share the five main ingredients for career fulfillment and the importance of incorporating them in your work.
1. Do work that you are awesome at
The first essential ingredient is to do work that you are good at. This means that your work should leverage what you naturally do well, your talents.
Talents are aptitudes that come naturally and using them often seems effortless. They leave you feeling energized and provide a great sense of joy and satisfaction.
Research shows that when you choose a job that enables you to leverage what you do best, you are more productive, perform better, and are more engaged at work, which ultimately leads you to feel happier and more fulfilled.
Using your talents also creates a feeling of “being in the zone” or in a state of flow; a state where you are completely focused on the task at hand and hours seem to pass like minutes.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, psychologist and author of the book Flow, describes flow as “a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.”
Csíkszentmihályi’s studies show that people find satisfaction when they enter a state of flow. In fact, his research indicates a positive correlation between flow and happiness. When your work allows you to enter this state, it will give you pleasure and lasting satisfaction, and it all starts by leveraging what you naturally do well.
2. Do work that piques your interest
The second ingredient is to do work that piques your interest. When you have a natural interest in something, you’re more likely to enjoy the time you spend doing it.
Forget the idea of finding your passion. A passion, by definition, is an intense desire or enthusiasm for something. Being passionate suggests that you are obsessed or madly in love with something. But not everyone feels this way about something.
Instead, focus on what inspires you. What you are curious to learn more about? What you are eager to be more involved in.
3. Do work that helps others
The third ingredient is to do work that helps others. Fulfillment is attained when you feel you are making a difference and impacting someone’s life. In fact, helping others gives your life meaning, and it fulfills your basic needs to contribute. Giving makes us feel important, special, and needed. It also fulfills a fundamental yearning to bring something to the world that benefits others.
Not only have the virtues of serving humanity been expressed in the writings of numerous philosophers and thinkers throughout history, but they have also been backed by scientific research. In fact, a study at Emory University revealed that giving activates parts of the brain that provide pleasure.
Helping others provides a powerful pathway to lasting happiness, therefore you want to do work that allows you to bring value to others and make a positive impact.
4. Do work that allows you to grow
The fourth ingredient is to do work that allows you to grow. This consists of work that gives you opportunities for advancement and challenging responsibilities. It also includes a work environment where you can receive constructive feedback and recognition for the work you do.
Satisfaction will undeniably be found when your work provides you with a great sense of achievement and allows you to become the best version of yourself.
In fact, according to the two-factor theory developed by Frederick Herzberg, a famous American psychologist, the factors that allow you to develop as a person are highly motivating and produce extreme satisfaction in the workplace. They are a great source of happiness and fulfillment.
5. Avoid negative factors
Last but not least, avoid factors that can be a source of extreme dissatisfaction. These factors include company policies or management styles that clash with your values, unhealthy relationships with your supervisors and peers, poor work conditions or pay, and a lack of job security.
Based on the two-factor theory, if these factors are not present, they can be a source of extreme dissatisfaction.
Doing work you love is worthless if you can’t make a living or if you have a difficult boss. Similarly, you might experience dissatisfaction if your work involves changing thousands of lives, but you are working in an abusive environment. Fulfillment will be challenging when negative factors are present.
Fulfilling work can be found when you bring these 5 essential elements together. Satisfaction in the workplace is not something you fall into or something that others create for you, it is something that you build. It starts by having an understanding of what brings you fulfillment and then shaping your career to achieve it. This requires you to stay self-aware and continuously invest in yourself and in your development to tap into what makes you thrive. It’s all about taking the driver’s seat in your career and doing what it takes to establish a career that will make you happy, whether it’s taking risks, having hard conversations, or making difficult decisions.
“Happiness is not something ready made, it comes from your own actions” --Dalai Lama.
Maxine Skerrett is an Executive Coach and a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach. Since 2015, she has worked with hundreds of professionals to discover what they do best and unlock their full potential at work.
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