85% of employees worldwide hate their jobs, according to a 2017 study conducted by Gallup. Regardless of how accurate that number really is, it’s clear that many people are dissatisfied with their work situation.
Here are seven pieces of advice that will help you to build a truly fulfilling career and thus avoid being among that 85 percent of people.
1. Keep experimenting throughout your entire career
Stagnation is one of the major causes of dissatisfaction. Once too much routine enters your work life, you are going to feel significantly less engaged with your work. And to be quite honest, routine can’t really be avoided regardless of the type of job you have.
But there is something you can do about it:
Add something to your work life. Take on additional responsibility wherever possible. Do stuff that allows you to grow.
You won’t always be able to do this directly at work. Since your working hours are already probably fully occupied, you might have to do this in your spare time at first.
Do some further education. Experiment around with ideas to improve specific processes of your company from home. Ask yourself what you need to grow beyond your current role and then specifically work towards that.
The feeling of growth this allows you experience will help you to maintain a real sense of fulfillment.
2. Set a specific goal and don’t get distracted
“The grass is always greener on the other side”, is how a popular saying goes. It’s a principle that certainly holds true for work life. No matter what you do for a living, you will always come across ‘opportunities’ that seem more attractive than what you do right now.
Let me tell you this:
It only makes sense to make major changes in your work life if you are not currently on a path that is in line with your long-term goals.
Many people keep jumping back and forth between all different kinds of things. As a result, they don’t really get anywhere. For example, they take on a new job for the only reason that it pays slightly more money.
These people fail to think of their work-life as a career with a clear destination in mind. What they lack is a clear vision where they are heading. To them, work is nothing but a means for paying the bills.
If you treat work that way, then no wonder you are dissatisfied. All it ever does is taking your precious spare time away from you.
3. Make realistic assumptions about your work situation
Most people set their expectations way too high. Their imagination is completely out of touch with the reality of the market situation. Consequently, they feel dissatisfied with the reality of their work life.
Don’t be that person.
It only makes you unhappy.
Have a realistic look at your current situation. Try to get a sense of what other people at your career stage earn, how much responsibility they get, how quickly they are promoted, and so on and so forth.
Of course, you can have high expectations for yourself. But there are goals that are realistically achievable and there are those that just aren’t. Make sure that your own goals fall into the first category.
Gain a realistic understanding of the market situation. Set your expectations accordingly.
4. Hold yourself accountable for your actions every single day
If you ever want to reach your destination, you must make progress on a daily basis. Consequently, you must have a system in place that allows you to keep track of your daily progress.
Somehow, it must become measurable whether or not you are moving in the right direction. Even if it’s a difficult thing to do, you must figure out a way of implementing such a system.
Because you need to know where you are standing and whether or not you need to change course.
Seeing this progress will also give you a deep sense of fulfillment. After all, you can easily see for yourself that you are not just standing in one place without any movement.
5. Understand that to progress, you must provide value for others
It is our nature that we keep thinking about ourselves. After all, it is our career, our life, our happiness that is at stake. And yet, if we want to progress, we must put a large emphasis on what we can do for others.
Just think about it for a moment:
If you want a promotion, then you must first provide sufficient value for your boss. Likewise, if you want to inrease your revenue, then you must produce better results for your customers.
Stop being self-centered. Think about what you can do for your company, your customers, your colleagues. Learn how to give and you will eventually reap the benefits.
Interestingly, it is also significantly more satisfying to do something for others than to always think about your own good.
6. Discover your own sweet spot where you can spend most of your time in the flow state
Any job consists of many activities that aren’t exactly pleasurable. Meetings, paperwork, bureaucracy, all that kind of stuff. None of these things can be completely avoided if you’re working for an organization.
However, you must try to reach a point where you can focus most of your attention on the one thing that gets you into the flow state. If you are working as a programmer, for example, then you should spend a good amount of time actually writing code.
It is during the flow state that you forget all sense of time and simply work in a state of deep concentration. This is also the most satisfying part of your job.
Unfortunately, many organizations make it extremely hard for their employees to frequently enter the flow state. All kinds of things disturb you, whether that is your boss or a constantly ringing phone.
If that is the case for you, then you have two options:
- Slowly change your working environment by letting co-workers and customers know that you are blocking certain time slots for periods of deep work
- If that really doesn’t work, then you might consider moving to another company with a more understanding work culture
You will only produce excellent results when you get to work in the flow state for extended periods of time on a regular basis. And hey, you owe it to yourself to create such an environment and do the best job possible.
After all, the ability to strive for excellence is an important factor in being satisfied with your work situation.
7. Become a legend in your own tiny world
While at the beginning of your career it might be helpful to keep different options open, eventually you must niche down. In the tiny world of your own choosing, you will be able to become a legend.
Choose a small field and then become so good at it that no way leads around you for anyone coming into contact with that space.
Before you can do that, you must first discover a field that you can imagine to spend the whole rest of your career in. It might not be easy to develop such a passion, but eventually, you will get there.
In short, you can start with a broad set of skills, but sooner or later you are going to have to specialize.
He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. — Friedrich Nietzsche
Building a fulfilling career is all about setting a clearly defined long-term goal for yourself and then slowly working towards it. Making progress towards a meaningful goal is the most satisfying thing in the world.
However, that goal also needs to be grounded in reality. If it is something that you can’t possibly achieve, then it simply won’t lead anywhere.
Realistic goal + measurable progress = deeply fulfilling career
At the beginning of your career, you must do lots of experimentation to discover what you like and what you’re good at. Eventually, however, you will find a feasible long-term goal.
Once you have reached that point, don’t let other things distract you. Do everything in your power to turn your plan into reality.
Become a legend in your own tiny world.