Career Satisfaction: Job, Career or Calling

How do you see the work that you do? Is your work something that you take pride in or is it simply a job? Do you have career satisfaction? For some people, they constantly seek greater career challenges and growth. For these individuals, it’s about achievement. There are some people who want to have greater fulfillment and impact on the world. These individuals want greater contribution. For others, their job is simply about a paycheck.

For these people where money is the priority, the circumstances of life dictate the work they do. In many ways, I completely understand this. It is a given that there is no escaping bill payments, rent/mortgages, food to buy and kids to cloth. Because financial survival is such a priority, many people would argue that any other reasons for working are not that important. Indeed, many people in these situations are typically ‘okay’ with their jobs. They would describe their jobs as ‘fine’. Unfortunately, being ‘fine’ can stop many people from attaining greater fulfillment and higher rewards in both their career and life. In the end, being ‘fine’ will stop you from achieving true career satisfaction.

People Want Greater Career Satisfaction

Regardless of the level of satisfaction that a person has with their career right now, I would argue that most people would desire more fulfillment and meaning. This is true, even if they do not actively seek it. I would place odds on this. So, please contact me, if your true career goal is to have less career satisfaction, and want to be more miserable. Given a choice, would you not want a job that would make you happier or more joyous? However, like many people, you might feel trapped in a job that you do not enjoy.

Unfortunately, many people stay in a demoralizing work environment, stuck in a cubicle, feeling underchallenged, bored, stagnant and completely uninterested with their workplace. Why is this? I believe one reason is that they never choose with intention to have a more conscious, open and aware perspective of the many other important reasons to work, beyond pay. Have you asked yourself this vital question? Beyond your pay, why else are you in your current job?

Your Work Perspectives Matter

The way you view your work matters, either positively or negatively. This view is not just about the job itself. Perspectives about your work are about you, as a unique individual. Every single person can experience and see the same identical job in very different ways. It’s important to realize that your own individual perspectives led you to seeing your work in either a positive or negative light. You must begin to understand your own individual perspective, because it can help you to experience your work with greater joy and fulfillment. Research has supported that people can view their work in one of three ways: job, career or calling, and they all have an effect on your level of career satisfaction.

Three Categories

Researchers in the field draw some major distinctions between these 3 categories. People who see their work as a job, are usually only interested in material benefits such as salary and perks. They do not seek to gain or receive any other type of reward from it. They see work as a means to allow them to acquire resources to enjoy their time away from the job.

On the other hand, there are people who have a deeper investment in their work, and value more than just monetary gain. They may value higher social standing and empowerment. These individuals value achievement, seeing their work as a career.

In the third perspective, there are people who find their work inseparable from their life. They feel that their work is a calling. People in this category are looking for fulfillment from their work. Some people assume that the word calling as one that is religious or spiritual. However, this term is more related to work that is socially valuable or beneficial.

Different Views, Different Outcomes

Studies have demonstrated that the perspective you have with your work, leads to very different outcomes. Research has confirmed that out of all the categories, in general, callings are associated with greater life, health and job satisfaction. Evidence confirms that people who reported having a calling as having higher life and job satisfaction than people who noted their work as a ‘career’ or ‘job’. One study also found that people who reported having a calling had higher income, as well.

These findings contradict the belief that the reasons for having work are unimportant and is simply a matter of individual preference. The perspective you have of your work directly impacts how satisfied you will be, and it’s very important that you evaluate your work views. Try the following to gain a deeper understanding:

1. Intentionally Change the Perspective of Why You Work

It’s easy to stay in a job, believing that it’s mainly about the money and security. I don’t claim this to be untrue. However, you should ask yourself, “How do other people find jobs that are more deeply satisfying and meaningful, while still being able to pay their bills?” If they can achieve greater career fulfillment, why can’t you? I would argue that it is your career intention that is different.

There is a saying that goes, “Seek and you shall find”. If your intention in your work is only about money and security then that is all your job will turn out to be. However, if you broaden your job perspectives to include other important reasons to work, you will start to look for them. Change your perspective to seek greater job satisfaction and joy, and you will keep pursuing this goal. Eventually, you will find these vital career qualities. Reevaluate and explore all of your job choices. Question your intentions.

2. Seek, Don’t Wait

Many people stay in a job as opposed to seeking a calling because they simply wait. I understand that this is intuitively obvious, but it’s amazing how many people will remain in a job, never even beginning to look at other career possibilities. People wait, and hope that one day the piano of motivation and inspiration will magically fall on their head, or that retirement will come soon. Unfortunately, attaining a fulfilling and successful goal rarely happens without energy and effort.

When you think of getting to the top of a mountain, how do you get there? If you intend to get to the top, you cannot wait around for inspiration and motivation, or a magical wind to blow you up there. To get to the top, you must consciously decide to climb it. Getting to a particular goal requires the same energy and effort, and so does achieving a more satisfying career.

To attain highly rewarding work you must seek it out, as it will not fall into your lap by accident or coincidence. Make constant career exploration, networking and searching a top priority of your career management habits. Continue to seek until you attain the level of joy and fulfillment that you want in your career.

3. Examine Your Values

You career values can be defined as your personal principles that assist you is shaping your ideal professional environment. These values can help you identify your most ideal work settings and important role activities, and they frame what is truly important to you when you work. They are also a source of stimulation and enthusiasm for work.

It’s very common for people to continually grind it out, using up high levels of motivation and energy to be productive in jobs that are misaligned with their values. Unfortunately, this misalignment becomes a increasingly sore point, and people end up lacking what is needed the most to make a job enjoyable. These unmet needs also become obstacles to productivity. Therefore, finding a role that meets your needs and aligns with your values is key. When this happens, you can better focus your energy on mastering your job activities that you enjoy and also grow your skills.

Also identifying other areas that are important such as the specific type of work environment, job activities, professional development, management styles, social connections, and work-life balance will help you find the exact role that enhances your professional satisfaction and joy.

4. Extrinsic versus Intrinsic

We all need to work for a paycheck, this is a given. However, there are other factors that are as important to having greater career satisfaction, and how you are motivated is an essential part of this. Research has examined the different ways of thinking about motivation. Motivation can be seen in one of two ways, either extrinsically or intrinsically. Extrinsic motivation is when a person is motivated to perform a behavior or engage in an activity because of a reward or punishment. The motivation is generated from an external condition, outside the person. Intrinsic motivation is when you perform an activity because you find it rewarding on its own. You are generating motivation from within, internally. As a result, you are performing an activity for its own sake rather than from a desire for some external reward.

When you are searching for a job, it’s important to focus on the internal rewards, just as much as external ones. It’s important when evaluating a position to ask questions related to achievement, creativity, autonomy, challenge and personal development. Finding out what specifically motivates you, so that you can thrive and attain a satisfying career is an important as salary and benefits. Understanding how you are motivated will deepen your self-knowledge about where you are most productive, identify areas where you can accelerate learning, and find activities that are the most rewarding and satisfying.  

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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