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5 Tips for Improving Career Satisfaction

I used to think that finding happiness in my career was just as much my boss’ responsibility as it was my own. Once I got the education I needed and accomplished a few wonderful things, the people around me were supposed to recognize me, reward me and push me up the corporate ladder. Well, they didn’t. Company after company, these people failed to hold up their end of the deal. Of course, the problem wasn’t really them, it was me and how I planned things (or failed to plan things). In this post, I’ll share some tips on managing your career satisfaction and expectations.

Ghandi once said ‘Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.’ It took me a few years to understand what this means. When I was working on my college education, building new skills and solving hard problems, I was happy. My career was going just fine. But when I went to work and the novelty wore off, things got tougher. I didn’t feel that my job was moving my career any. My career just slowed to a halt.

I kept a notebook to capture all my ideas. For years, I would write things down that I needed to accomplish. It wasn’t until I went back to this book and analyzed it that I figured out what my issues really were. When I thought back to the times of my lowest levels of satisfaction, I noticed that I hadn’t written down as many ideas as I had during the happier times. My satisfaction was linked to my effort. I became unhappy with my career when I wasn’t doing something that I thought would help it grow.

Here are a few things that seem to help me keep my career satisfaction level high.

Plan your career. Writing your goals down puts your subconscious into action. Your subconscious will work on your career even your conscious is busy with something else. When I was in college studying to be an engineer, I would wake up in the middle of the night with a solution to a problem. But I was asleep. How could my conscious mind solve this problem? You can apply the same thing to your career. Writing your goals down burns your objectives into your mind so that it constantly scans your environment for opportunities that help you reach your goals, even when you aren’t. These solutions will come to you as a salvo or an epiphany. Bam…then an idea pops your head. It’s a seemingly simple activity that has big returns.

Create Real Expectations. Many of the MBA graduates I talk with have great expectations for their career. When I ask them how and when they plan to achieve these things, the answers that are returned don’t reflect those that come from deep thought and consideration. In short, they haven’t really thought about it. Are their expectations real? An MBA graduate expects to make more money, get a promotion, improve upward mobility and be exposed to greater opportunity. The question is how will this come about and when will it occur. One year after graduation? Two years? If we don’t a plan to grow our career and put a significant investment of energy into it, creating expectations that these things will occur anyhow will only bring dissatisfaction. Make your expectations make the level of effort you plan to put into your career and success will be much brighter.

Build a mentor group. Reaching high levels of success aren’t obtained from individual effort. Well, not if you want to achieve it quickly. You’ve heard it a million times already but I’ll repeat it once more, the economy now is global. Thinking that one can simply stay in one spot and reach the summit with the efforts of only two hands is outdated. I once read that it took about 26 years to rise to level of CEO. The people who’ve done it in less time have benefited from the development of their network, or mentor group. These are successful professionals who are prepared to help and advise you when called upon. I’ve known people who’ve used their mentor group to keep themselves employed for 15 years, just by asking them to help find the next opportunity. Now, that’s security.

Craft your surroundings. A mentor group is just one part of a successful environment. Most sports team love a home field advantage. It is where they have the support of all of their fans and community. They feel comfortable with the stadium, feel of the ground, temperature of air and sounds of screaming fans. All of these things create the excitement they need to perform at their peak. Our job and career aren’t any different. It’s not too difficult to assess our co-workers, managers, executives, customers, vendors, suppliers, etc. and determine if they give us the support we need. The tough part is taking the initiative to correct it or find another location when it doesn’t support us appropriately. As Malcolm Gladwell states in his book Outliers, the path to greatness passes through supportive environments that rush to the best and make them better.

Develop a winning attitude. Everyone knows that building a career in today’s economy is a serious challenge. The odds aren’t ideal since competition is high, opportunities are few and the future is unclear. However, people love those who face insurmountable obstacles with confidence and enthusiasm. You know these people. Despite our own doubts and fears, they convince us that our efforts are worthy and victory is eminent. In all the things we have to overcome in building our career success, changing our attitude is the easiest one to do and has the greatest impact. The requirements for developing an attitude of success are good risk-management and evaluation skills, emotional control and self-discipline. If you look at the previous tips, you’ll realize that all of these will be present once you take action and put them in place.


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Filed under:Coaching, Job Search

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