You dreamed about an ideal job in which you’d be motivated, inspired, respected and well paid. And for a while, your job may have been all that.
But now it seems the honeymoon is over. You’ve lost your job satisfaction, and you find it harder and harder to get through the workday. And that means your stress is mounting. Learn what you can do to reignite your job satisfaction and reduce your stress.
Why you can lose job satisfaction
Lack of job satisfaction can be a significant source of daily stress. To help get your stress back under control, figure out what exactly has caused you to sour on your job.
Reasons why you may have lost job satisfaction can include:
- Bickering co-workers
- Conflict with your supervisor
- Not being appropriately paid for what you do
- Not having the necessary equipment or resources to succeed
- Lack of opportunities for promotion
- Having little or no say in decisions that affect you
- Fear of losing your job
- Work that you find boring or overly routine
- Work that doesn’t tap into your education, skills or interests
Take some time to think about what motivates and inspires you. You may even want to work with a career counselor to complete a formal assessment of your interests, skills and passions. Then explore some strategies to increase your job satisfaction.
The link between work approach and job satisfaction
Work is often approached from three perspectives. Usually all three perspectives are important for job satisfaction, but one is often the priority:
- It’s a job. If you approach work as a job, you focus primarily on the financial rewards. In fact, the nature of the work may hold little interest for you. What’s important is the money. If a job with more pay comes your way, you’ll likely move on.
- It’s a career. If you approach work as a career, you’re interested in advancement. You want to climb the career ladder as far as possible or be among the most highly regarded professionals in your field. You’re motivated by the status, prestige and power that come with the job.
- It’s a calling. If you approach your job as a calling, you focus on the work itself. You work less for the financial gain or career advancement than for the fulfillment the work brings.
Do you recognize your approach to work? One approach isn’t necessarily better than the others. But it’s helpful to reflect on why you work if you’re unsatisfied with your job and are ready to move on. Think about what originally drew you to your current job, and whether it may be a factor in your lack of job satisfaction.
Strategies to improve your job satisfaction
Depending on the underlying cause of your lack of job satisfaction, there may be several ways to increase your job satisfaction.
Set new challenges
If you’re stuck in a job because of lack of education or a downturn in the economy, it doesn’t mean your work has to become drudgery. With a little imagination, you can create new challenges and make the best of the job you have. Here are some ideas that may help.
- Improve your job skills. Imagining yourself in your dream job, you might envision yourself as an excellent project manager — a confident communicator and a highly organized person. Why not work on these skills in your present job?
- Develop your own project. Take on a project that can motivate you and give you a sense of control. Start small, such as organizing a work-related celebration, before moving on to larger goals. Working on something you care about can boost your confidence.
- Mentor a co-worker. Once you’ve mastered a job, you may find it becoming routine. Helping a new co-worker or an intern advance his or her skills can restore the challenge and the satisfaction you desire.
Beat the boredom
Does your job seem boring sometimes? Do you run out of things to do? If so, your abilities may not match your responsibilities. Here are some suggestions:
- Break up the monotony. Take advantage of your work breaks. Read. Listen to music. Go for a walk. Write a letter.
- Cross-training. Does your work consist of repetitive tasks, such as entering data or working on an assembly line? Talk with your boss about training for a different task to combat boredom. Once you’ve completed the training, you can switch back and forth.
- Volunteer for something different. If you hear that your company is launching a new project, volunteer for the work team.
Keep in mind that boredom can literally be deadly if your job involves working with machinery or caring for people. If your mind wanders to the point that you put your life or the lives of others in jeopardy, take action now. Talk to your supervisor about new challenges you can take on or seek a new position.
Use positive thinking to reframe your thoughts about your job. Changing your attitude about work won’t necessarily happen overnight or increase your job satisfaction overnight. But if you’re alert to ways your view of work brings you down, you can improve your job satisfaction. Try these techniques:
- Stop negative thoughts. Pay attention to the messages you give yourself. When you catch yourself thinking your job is terrible, stop the thought in its tracks.
- Put things in perspective. Remember, everyone encounters good days and bad days on the job.
- Look for the silver lining. “Reframing” can help you find the good in a bad situation. For example, you receive a less than perfect performance appraisal and your boss warns you to improve or move to another job. Instead of taking it personally or looking for another job right away, look for the silver lining. Depending on where you work, the silver lining may be attending continuing education classes or working closely with a performance coach and having the satisfaction of showing your boss that you’re capable of change.
- Learn from your mistakes. Failure is one of the greatest learning tools, but many people let failure defeat them. When you make a mistake at work, learn from it and try again. It doesn’t mean that you’re a failure.
- Be grateful. Gratitude can help you focus on what’s positive about your job. Ask yourself, “What am I grateful for at work today?” If it’s only that you’re having lunch with a friendly co-worker, that’s OK. But find at least one thing you’re grateful for and savor it.
More job satisfaction can mean less stress
Whether your work is a job, a career or a calling, you can take steps to restore meaning to your job. Make the best of difficult work situations by being positive. Doing so will help you manage your stress and experience the rewards of your profession.