Breaking news! Most Americans don’t like their jobs. The results of a new Conference Board study show 55% of Americans are dissatisfied with their work, which was the lowest level ever recorded in more than 22 years of studying the issue. Is it just me, or are these results completely un-shocking?
It’s like the groundbreaking research the University of Waterloo conducted that showed “smoking in a car poses a potentially serious hazard to occupants — particularly children.” Sorry sweetie, daddy didn’t realize that lighting up in the minivan was bad for you. Soon they’ll discover exercise can help you lose weight (woops, it appears a recent study confirms this).
Do you want to know what I find shocking about the job satisfaction survey? That more people don’t hate their jobs. My guess is that when people were asked if they were satisfied with their jobs they either lied to the researcher or they’ve been lying to themselves.
Most of the people I talk to are “dissatisfied,” to put it nicely, with their jobs. Why? They don’t feel like they are contributing to anything meaningful, they aren’t passionate about what they do, and they don’t feel like their best talents are being utilized — especially in today’s economy where those who still have jobs are doing the work of two or three others.
They don’t jump out of bed on Monday morning because they are just “doing time,” as one person told me. Part of the reason for this lethargy is that most people feel underutilized and don’t have the flexibility to do what they do best. They get boxed into positions and job descriptions that they can do adequately, but that usually doesn’t tap into their core strengths. “If only my boss would let me…” is a common complaint among those who feel stuck in positions that don’t capitalize on their unique strengths.
So what’s the solution? In this case there are two solutions:
1.) New Job. First, you can get a new job that you love — one that pays you well financially and emotionally. A job, no, a calling that you are passionate about. Of course, with the real unemployment rate at nearly 20%, this is much harder than it sounds; but if you know what that “one thing” is that you would love to do, go get it. Do whatever it takes to get that career. If it requires going back to school, do it. If it requires a move or even a pay cut, do it. It is so easy for a decade to fly by and to wake up one morning and ask yourself, “Where did the last ten years go?” You might not be able to switch careers overnight, but you can start using the other 8 hours to get closer to your dream job.
2.) Use Your Other 8 Hours. The second solution is to keep your day job, but do something in the other 8 hours that both inspires you and that you excel at. This is why creating during the other 8 hours is so much fun. You create your own job description. You are your own boss and you can focus on what it is you enjoy the most and do the best. It also explains why you find some people who never want to retire and work 60 hours a week for 50 years, but claim they’ve never worked a day in their life. If you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.
Your day job might drain you, but if you want a shot of energy and inspiration, do something that moves you at night. If that involves researching why people wear clothes when it gets cold, you can save yourself some time thanks to the latest research out of Australia.
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