by Matt Alderton | August 01, 2019
If you're dissatisfied in your job, you're not alone. As author Susan Peppercorn reports in a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, 85 percent of employees say they're disengaged at work.

Despite common wisdom, however, the solution for those employees isn't happiness. Instead, it's purpose.

"If you set happiness as your primary goal, you can end up feeling the opposite," Peppercorn says. "This is because happiness … is a fleeting state, not a permanent one. An alternative solution is to make meaning your vocational goal."

According to Peppercorn, meaning is the one thing that can make people feel more satisfied at work even on their least satisfying days. "Research shows that making work more meaningful is one of the most powerful and underutilized ways to increase productivity, engagement and performance," she says. "In one survey of 12,000 employees, 50 percent said they didn't get a feeling of meaning and significance from their work, but those who did reported 1.7 times greater job satisfaction, were 1.4 times more engaged and were more than three times as likely to remain with their current employer."

But how does one find meaning in his or her work? Start by keeping a work journal, Peppercorn suggests. "Identify the projects and tasks you find deeply satisfying," she says. "Do you feel fulfilled when making presentations to your clients, for example? Are you energized when mentoring and coaching junior employees, thinking about how your present efforts contribute positively to their future?"

Once you know what satisfies you, you can organize your job around it. "If mentoring is linked with your personal identity and self-expression, make coaching part of your weekly activities," Peppercorn advises. "If self-development is a core value, incorporate daily rituals such as listening to podcasts, taking a course or joining a mastermind group."

Instead of perpetual joy, which isn't attainable, the objective is continuous fulfillment, which is.

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