Take This Job And Love It

Convention says a good job is one that pays well. Unfortunately, convention fails to consider the emotional side of human nature. Anyone who has spent even five minutes watching Behind the Music knows this…[cue tragic music]…“There we were…on stage at the height of the glam-rock revolution, fans shouting, ‘Poison!, Poison!, Poison!’ We were rich, sure. But inside…we were just so empty.” Poor Poison.

It seems Bret, C.C., Rikki and Bobby fell subject to what is now a documented trend—job dissatisfaction. Moreover, Poison’s inter-band tantrums, infighting over income and clashes regarding individual notoriety characterize the plight of working Americans today.

The yearly Conference Board survey—charting job satisfaction across age, income and geographic locale—found worker bees have grown gradually apathetic. Dissatisfaction over bonuses, promotion policies, educational training programs and fellow employees has led to a steady decline in the number of people satisfied with their jobs.

In short, a lack of tangible perks has made the nine-to-five an increasing chore. Frustration finds its source in what others are offering, or in this case, what they aren’t.

The solution? Work that’s rewarding from the inside-out. Intangible benefits of a job, like inspiration, purpose or connection with others, can go miles in terms of fueling our sense of fulfillment. So here are our top picks for investing work with a soulful infusion. Go ahead … make your job rewarding by starting from the inside-out.

Contribution is an individual effort in service of a common endeavor. While people work at jobs of all kinds, Christians have in common the one kingdom of God. A particular Catholic liturgy has within it the following prayer, said by everybody: “We acknowledge that our response to our obligations is a measure of our growth in the life and nature of the Christ.” Contributing fair, honest and charitable work from day to day, we advance God’s purpose for our lives.

Presence, as a state of being, lends itself to a cool head when jobs bring trouble, chaos, or turbulence. Each moment, approached on its own, becomes a place to transform our situation. Turn away from what Christian life and career author Verla Gillmor calls “kitchen sink” thinking—where employees pile problems onto one another—to discover isolated, manageable opportunities for resolution.

Connection is the link, association or relationship that binds individuals together. Though “workplace” and “community” are very different words, they don’t have to be very different places. Healthy connections based on open communication, honesty and genuine concern for others can transform the workplace.

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Fulfillment is the feeling of satisfaction in having achieved your desires. Back in the 1960s, social psychologist Douglas McGregor suggested avenues for employee achievement were vital to a satisfied workforce. Employees want to find work a source of satisfaction, McGregor campaigned in his “Y Theory.” The workplace just needs to recognize this and make opportunities available.

The bottom line is: People grow and change. The spunky intern willing to run every errand—jogging 30 blocks in the pouring rain if it means a chance to move up in their field—is sure to be a disgruntled staff member six years later if they’re still lacin’ up the Nikes to fetch a glazed dozen. Hook up with a job as ambitious, and as open to growth, as you are.

[Excerpted from the full-length article found in the premiere print issue of RELEVANT magazine, available now.]

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