September 7

Work-Life Fulfillment: Why Am I Unhappy At Work?

Job satisfaction used to be about doing a good day’s work, producing as much as you can and being fairly recompensed for your labours.

Yes, but how does that make you feel?

Do you feel valued by your employer?

Are you engaging in truly meaningful work that has a positive impact on the lives of others?

And are you growing and becoming a better human being as a result?

Do you have fulfillment at work?

The Importance of Fulfillment at Work to Workplace Well-Being

In the previous post in this series of four, we discovered that a sense of purpose is one of three important components to healthy workplace well-being, the other two being a healthy work-life balance and fulfillment at work, and we established that you need all three of them if you are to find true workplace well-being.

In this post we’re going to take a look at fulfillment at work, define what it is and discover how your job should make you feel, and we’ll show you how to find career fulfillment, whether you’re working in an office setting or working from home.

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What Is Work Fulfillment?

Fulfillment is the feeling of satisfaction you get from doing or achieving something, especially something useful or meaningful.

When we talk about fulfillment at work, we are talking about finding purpose, increasing empowerment and autonomy, improving work-life balance, tasks that are more meaningful and fewer low value tasks, improving self-esteem, transparency and openness.

Work Fulfillment: 3 Secrets You Need to Know


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How Should A Job Make You Feel?

When you're constantly asking yourself 'Why am I unhappy at work?', then it's usually a good sign that you're in the wrong job!

You shouldn't be unhappy at work, you should feel fulfilled.

When employees are fulfilled, they have control over their workloads and tasks and can set their own path through the demands of work. They feel that everyone is valued equally and there is a shared vision for the team and organisation that is clear and engaging, and they can engage in work tasks in a way that enables them to share in a broad sense of purpose and career fulfillment.

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How Do I Find Fulfillment At Work?

Your work should be a calling, not a burden, and a place where we feel good. Dr Britt Andreatta, author of Wired to Grow and Wired to Connect, says that “our well-being is directly connected to our fulfillment – the quality of our relationships, our sense of significance from making an impact, and the challenge of growth”. These are the main driving forces of both a fulfilled personal life and a fulfilled career.

The Virtuous Cycle of Fulfillment

When we gain a sense of purpose in our working life by focusing on the quality of our relationships, the impact that our work has and on meaningful tasks that enable us to grow as human beings, we are rewarded by our brain releasing two neurochemicals. These chemicals, oxytocin and dopamine – also known as our own personal ‘happy drugs’ – are responsible for the feeling of fulfillment that we get for ‘doing a good job’. “We are hard-wired to grow and improve, and dopamine supplies the motivation”, says Dr Andreatta.

In a recent PwC Meaning at Work study, 70% of employees surveyed said that they would consider leaving their role for a more fulfilling one, and one in three said they would even consider it for lower pay.

Lidiya K of Let's Reach Success, in her blog post The First 5 Steps on The Path to Inner Fulfillment, says:

Your values are part of your deepest desires and aspirations

Lidiya K

No matter how much you evolve as a person, these core principles are inside of you.

Define what the ideal life looks like, write it down, imagine it and create a picture in your mind.

Finding your ultimate purpose paves the path to your dreams and inner fulfillment. Once you know your direction, you can easily make a plan on how to get there.

But just what do you need to do to find fulfillment at work? These 11 tips will help you get there:

  1. Look on the bright side
  2. Define a personal mission and find your purpose
  3. Set your goals
  4. Learn one new thing every day
  5. Challenge yourself
  6. Take initiative
  7. Slow down – aim for quality over quantity
  8. Build positive relationships
  9. Support the work of others
  10. Get perspective
  11. Make a fresh start

Fulfillment at Work - (1) Relationships, (2) Impact and (3) Growth. Are you fulfilled at work? #workplacewellbeing #worklifebalance #worklife #purpose #fulfillment

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Look on the bright side

Whoever you are, whatever you’re going through, there are many people in a worse situation than you are. Take stock of the things that you have and take a moment to be thankful for them.

Define a personal mission and find your purpose

What are your values? What is it that causes positive or negative feelings in you or makes you want to take action? What defines you as a person? Write them down and create a personal mission statement to see if you can look for a fulfilling role at work. Then discuss it with your boss and apply it every day in your work.

Set your goals and tasks

Once you have your personal mission statement, break it down into individual goals. Set long-term, short-term and daily goals. Now break these goals down into tasks, each of which will take you one step closer to your goals, and work through them one at a time, each and every day. Achieving these tasks and goals will give you more fulfillment at work than you will feel without setting any at all.

Learn one new thing every day

Find ways to improve yourself. Whether a new technical skill, organisational skills, management and leadership skills, improve at least one new thing each day. Being a little better today than you were yesterday will give you a sense of growth, accomplishment and fulfillment. And over the months and years, it will really add up!

Challenge yourself

Not all tasks should be easy. Growth means getting out of your comfort zone. You can feel fulfilled by doing small, easy tasks that make a difference, but you will get a much bigger sense of fulfillment by doing something that you didn’t think you could do. Better still, the more often you step out of your comfort zone, the easier it becomes, and you find you can accomplish more.

Take initiative

Career fulfillment is more likely if you volunteer and invest emotional energy in work assignments. Relish challenges and celebrate successes.

Slow down – aim for quality over quantity

Take the time to really think about your task and how to do it better. What will likely be the most difficult part? Focus on that first and break it down into a series of bite-sized mini-tasks. Completing the hardest bits first will give you a tidal wave of endorphins that you can ride to complete the rest of the task. You might find that you will complete the task in less time than if you had just jumped right in without planning it out!

Build positive relationships

It feels good to have positive people you can talk to, share challenges and grow with. You want to be part of tribes of people who understand you and value the skills you have, so take the time to listen and show genuine interest, and they will show interest in you. Being a genuinely good person at work will help you build positive relationships and you will be more fulfilled at work.

Support the work of others

You have skills. Your colleagues will likely have different skills. Sure, there are some overlaps, but can you use your skills to help colleagues in their projects? Is there something unique that you can do to help them out? Volunteer to help others with their work and support them in any way you can. You will find that they have skills that you do not have that can make your projects better. It is a 3-way win – you are fulfilled in your job, your projects and those of your colleagues become better than you could have imagined and you get to strengthen relationships with your colleagues. As a bonus, your boss will be impressed with your performance!

Get perspective

Seeking inspiration from new and unexpected places will help you get fresh perspective and often leads to innovative ideas.

Make a fresh start

If your boss is not interested in your career or charts for you an unfulfilling path, life is too short – look for another job! Go back to your personal mission statement and seek out opportunities that match your aspirations. Find a new beginning that will bring you future career fulfillment.

How Can I Work Successfully At Home?

As we have learned, fulfillment at work is about the quality of our relationships, the impact we have on the lives of others and the challenge of growth. When you are working from home, especially if you are doing it permanently, it can be difficult to maintain relationships with colleagues, difficult to see the impact you are having and nobody can see how you’re rising to each new challenge.

That’s not to say that you cannot have a fulfilled work life when you are working remotely – you can, but you need to put in place mechanisms to ensure that relationships, impact and growth are prioritised and nurtured.

Here are 7 tips in addition to those mentioned above to find fulfillment in the home office:

  1. Create a new routine
  2. Start your day with learning
  3. Live in the now
  4. Focus on one thing
  5. Celebrate wins
  6. Find a community – online and offline
  7. Do it today, not tomorrow

Home Office Tip

The 3 elements of fulfillment at work:

The Quality of Our Relationships

The Impact We Have on the Lives of Others

The Challenge of Growth

Create a new routine

You cannot simply copy your work routine when you are in your home office. It does not work. At home, there are distractions that you do not have when in the office, and vice versa. Acknowledge that working from home is different to working in the office, and you are going to need a completely different routine. Create a daily ritual that separates your work day from family time and try to keep them separate.

Start your day with learning

Working in the home office can be monotonous, and you need regular doses of inspiration. Starting your day learning something new gets your juices flowing and sets you up for a strong working day. Read the latest news in your industry, learn to use one new Microsoft Excel function or seek out an interesting infographic on Pinterest. Whatever you choose, learn, be inspired and dream up something new!

Live in the now

Worrying about the past or what might happen in the future is not only bad for your physical and mental health, but it also damages the here and now. Try to let go of the past and not worry about what is yet to come, and live for the moment. Focusing on how you can be the best version of you right now will help you achieve your goals.

Focus on one thing

Multitasking is the enemy of productivity. Focus on one thing at a time and at the end of the day you will be able to look back and see all the things you have achieved with real quality. If you have a long list of tasks, you can be distracted by the sheer weight of it all. Prioritise your tasks, put a realistic time limit on each of them, and once they are scheduled you can focus on each single task in order.

Celebrate wins

When you’re working from home, your colleagues might not be around to give you a pat on the back when you achieve something, so you need to give yourself a virtual high-five. Celebrate each achievement, however small, by rewarding yourself. Small victories should yield small rewards; while large victorious should be an excuse for a big splash out. Create a list of rewards to qualify for. This will give you the motivation to strive for the things that you deserve.

Find a community – online and offline

Remote working can be lonely at times. Find online spaces where you can hang out to chat. Create an online space to have water-cooler chat with co-workers and arrange convenient times when you can all be there for 15 minutes or so. You should also arrange to meet colleagues in a local coffee shop to gossip and chat about projects. These interactions are so important to avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness, but also help with inspiration and fresh ideas.

Do it today, not tomorrow

If you want to find purpose and feel fulfilled at work, then why wait until Monday to get started? You do not need anyone’s permission to seek purpose and fulfillment, so get started today.

Finding Fulfillment at Work: Summary

Fulfillment at work is about feeling connected to a higher purpose, where our daily work aligns with our beliefs.

You can find career fulfillment by defining your own personal mission, finding your purpose and setting tasks and goals to in pursuit of your mission – and your employer should be helping you to find a purpose that aligns naturally with company goals!

We discovered that if you take the initiative to learn one new thing every day and challenge yourself to rise to difficult challenges, you are more likely to find fulfillment at work than not. Building relationships with colleagues and supporting their work is also crucial on the path to career fulfillment.

But how do you find fulfillment when working remotely, where relationships can be difficult to build and maintain and it becomes hard to see the positive impact your work has on others?

Creating a routine that is results-driven and geared towards purpose rather than productivity is the key to work-at-home fulfillment. We found that by starting each day learning one new thing we can be inspired to be creative and more innovative, and that by creating online and offline communities we can stay connected with others and collaborate effectively.

And now it's your turn.

What's your favourite tip for finding fulfillment in the home office? Tell me in the comments!


Fulfillment, Health & Wellness

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