Did you know that 70% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their jobs? Jim Clifton, the Chairman and CEO of Gallup, says in his “State of the American Workplace Report 2013” that our reasons range from being uninspired and having to deal with “managers from hell”, to feeling like we don’t belong and not being allowed to work remotely. This makes sense to me.
Furthermore, Gallup says that most companies can fix this by selecting the right people, developing our strengths, and enhancing our wellbeing. This also makes sense.
But what do YOU want out of work? Isn’t that the real question, once we get beyond the basic need for work?
Think you want happiness? Happiness is great, but it’s like a cotton candy sugar high that eventually goes away. Pleasure is nice, but shouldn’t we want more? Doesn’t work need to be more than happiness and pleasure?
How about peace of mind. That’s a good one. We should all want more peace. Most of us are too stressed and filled with anxiety. But don’t we need more than peace at work?
Did you know that studies show happiness, pleasure and peace don’t create engagement. WHAT!!? Am I telling you that if you hate your job right now and got more happiness, pleasure and peace of mind, that you might still hate your job? YES!
If you hate your job right now and added happiness, pleasure and peace of mind, eventually you might still hate your job.
What’s going on here? When we hate our job we tend to think it would get better if work were easier or more fun. But study after study shows that easy work can get boring and fun work (by itself) gets old quickly. So, if that’s not the solution, then what is?
Fix the GAP and You Might Love Your Work
There is a huge gap between what we actually have (in our job and work) and what we know to be good for us. We should be reaching for a job that allows us to participate in something that brings real purpose, meaning, fulfillment into our lives. But too often instead, we reach for things like happiness and tranquility. We should be looking for hard, satisfying work. We should look for work that is aligned with our core interests and desires.
Maybe loving your job also comes from engaging in good hard work. Easy work is good for about one day. A year or two into it and you are bored. Good and hard work is fulfilling work. If it lines up with your interests it might even be fulfilling work filled with purpose. Having a job like that might even make you want to show up on Monday.
Maybe the reason you hate your job so much is because you notice a big glaring “gap” in your current reality verses what you know is right for you. That gap can be a silent killer and it can keep you from wanting to show up on Monday.
The gap is everywhere once you know where to look.
Maybe you work in a company that has all the right slogans on the walls but no one believes in anything. Maybe you like to create and build but aren’t aren’t set up to do either. Maybe you want to be engaged in a worthy cause but are doing rote and boring work. Maybe you want more truth or respect at work in an environment or industry where neither exist.
No man can be said to be happy who has been thrust outside the pale of truth. – Seneca
Maybe you value superior performance in a place where mediocrity wraps around you like a warm Snuggle. Maybe you value ideas in a workplace where ideas are shot down or pushed aside. Maybe you value aesthetics and work in a quiet dull cubicle without windows or good lighting.
Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. – Confucius
Here are a few ways to close the gap – and find the work you love:
- Aim for work that is meaningful, purposeful, and fulfilling.
- Look for more than “happiness and pleasure”.
- Search out good hard work that you can believe in.
- Work on your strengths, not your weaknesses.
- Work with good people who care about building up your career.
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