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Job Satisfaction and the Job Search

May 13th, 2021

Tuesday I wrote Some Careers Don’t Go As Planned and said it contains one of my more important messages. I wanted to pick up from the last line:

Find joy, happiness and satisfaction along the way or you might be disappointed when you get to your destination.

How do you find job satisfaction, or satisfaction in your career, when you are unemployed or underemployed? How can you look back on a life where what you did at work wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as you thought and hoped it would be?

Let’s go to another blog post, this one from 2017, titled What Is Your Center? #7Habits #StephenCovey. If you are a fan of the late Stephen Covey you’ll probably remember the part of his book where he talks about centers. I was shocked when I read it, thinking that he was going to say your family, spouse, or religion should be your center.

He also said your work should not be your center. Why? Well… if your work is your center, meaning you derive your self-worth and identity from your work (see the blog post about centers for more), and you get laid off, then what happens to your self-worth and identity??

When your center is your work, your profession, your role within a company, your job title, your income bracket, or anything related to those, you are setting yourself up for some serious life disappointment.

Maybe you are the most amazing worker, the person who the whole organization depends on. But what happens when the company fold overnight? What happen when your leader goes to prison and takes a few others along?

What happens when a natural disaster shuts down an industry segment, or a pandemic (too soon?) means you’ll be sitting on your couch (wondering how to pay for your couch) for the next 15 months?

What happens when you have a stroke, or lose the ability to use your hands or feet or eyes or whatever you need to do your job?

When I spoke at job clubs around the country I could see the “what happens when” in the fear in job seekers eyes. Shock, pain, devastation. Loss of purpose left no room for job, happiness, or satisfaction.

I don’t know what the answer is for you. For me, I’ve tried to find ways to give back to individuals in a meaningful way. This has included mentoring and coaching, as well as teaching and sharing ideas. Believe it or not, this blog is a big part of my fulfillment and satisfaction.

Should you volunteer in organizations that really need help? Should you write memoirs, mentor, or coach? Should you find joy in finally getting your finances under control, or delving into the world or fitness or photography or woodworking?

I don’t know. But I’m not a huge believer in “do what you love and the money will follow.” Nor do I believe that if you do what you love (now) you’ll be happy, or satisfied, your whole career. If you are looking for joy, happiness, satisfaction, or fulfillment, maybe you need to do a job where you make enough so that you can support other interests or hobbies… the ones that give you joy and satisfaction.

I’m not here to rain on anyone’s career. I’m just saying that if you have your career/profession be your center, you could waiting for a disaster.

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