It’s 11pm on a Sunday night as I write this, and I’m out on my deck working. Earlier today, I spoke at an event in Atlanta about how to motivate employees to a higher level of performance. I love my job, and it barely even occurred to me until now that I spent a good chunk of my weekend working! What about you—do you love your job? Here are a few reasons employees tend to be happy at work:
They have chosen the right job. They not only can do the job well, but also love what the job requires.
They feel that their work is appreciated and valued. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in determining job satisfaction.
They feel challenged by their work. The amount of work is just right—not too little, and not too much.
They see opportunities for advancement. If not in title and compensation, then at least in terms of challenge and fulfillment.
They have earned autonomy. (Yes, it has to be earned!)
If you aren’t happy where you are, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
Am I in the right job? Do you have the skills to do your job? If not, either develop them or find work that matches the skills you have. Remember that there is no “right” career, only a right career for you—I have coached physicians who hated their work.
Do I feel appreciated? Some bosses just aren’t good at showing appreciation. It’s sad, but true. If you would prefer more positive feedback, a different company might be a better fit.
Is my work challenging? If not, ask for more responsibility—and be ready to handle it.
Do I see opportunities for advancement? If not, are you willing to find a job that gives you those opportunities?
Am I willing to take responsibility for my career? You are where you are because of your choices. Your company didn’t kidnap you, and you can walk away at any time.
You spend too much of your life at work to do something that makes you unhappy or bored. When you love your job, everything else in life gets easier. If you think you can’t have a career you love, think again—quit making excuses, and start making progress. It might take a year or two (or more) to discover what you would love to do, to prepare yourself to do it, and to make your goal a reality. But guess what? If you don’t start now, that year or two will be over before you know it, and you will still be in a job that you don’t really want. Commit it doing what you need to do in order to eventually land a job you love. You owe it to yourself.