How to Feel More Satisfied at Work

With the dawn of a New Year, many of us are examining various aspects of our lives – especially our professional lives.

As a career coach, I work with a lot of people who want more satisfaction and fulfillment from their jobs, but don’t necessarily have the luxury of finding new employers. So what to do? Increase their sense of autonomy, mastery and purpose on the job.

Daniel Pink, a best-selling author, examined motivation in his book Drive. He cited autonomy, mastery and purpose as the three intrinsic motivators that allow us to access our maximum creativity and innovative thinking.

He defines

  • Autonomy as the ability to set your own schedule and priorities
  • Mastery as the drive to learn more and more, to get better and better at what you do
  • Purpose as the feeling that what you do matters, to your company and/or to the word.

These days, when I’m working with people who feel trapped in their jobs, I ask them how they can grow their autonomy, mastery and/or purpose. (Sometimes, given the circumstances, one is more possible than another.)

Here are some ways to begin:

  • Autonomy: How can you claim a bit more time as your own? Can you set your own schedule? Work from home one day a week? Work out over your lunch hour? Change who you work with?
  • Mastery: What could you learn so that you become even better at your job? What new challenge could you take on or training could you sign up for? Is there a mentorship program you could join as a mentee or a mentor?
  • Purpose: How can you increase the meaning of what you do every day? This can be as simple as changing the story you tell yourself about what you do. For example, hospital cleaners who see what they are doing as valuable to the health of patients (which of course it is!) are happier than those who think it’s a grunt job.

Try one or more of these. You’ll not only be more creative, but more satisfied. It turns out that autonomy, mastery and purpose feel good, too!

About the Author

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MJ Ryan is a best-selling author, as well as a professional coach, working with individuals and teams around the world.

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