How to Feel More Fulfilled at Work

George J. Ziogas

There are ways to make an existing job better
Job SatisfactionPhoto byEZPS/Adobe Stock

Your job can seem like the perfect match that you’ve always hoped for — the day you first learn about it, the day you get hired, and even through your first week at work.

With most jobs, however, once you spend time trying them out, you become aware of the different stressors involved. Before long, your new job loses its luster, and you begin mentally looking for something better out there.

While it can sometimes be a good idea to look for greater professional satisfaction in a different job, it’s also helpful to remember that new positions invariably look better on paper than they really are. Before you try looking, then, it can help to try different ways to modify your current job to make it more fulfilling. The ideas below can help you be happier at your current job.

Volunteer for new responsibilities

In many organizations, leaders build small teams from time to time to address specific projects. They tend to look for volunteers to fill these teams with. The responsibilities involved may require you to participate in brainstorming sessions, help onboard new workers, or write for the company newsletter or blog. You need to pick responsibilities that pique your interest, and also match your skills.

Career experts have a term by which to describe a willingness to take on new responsibilities — they call it organizational citizenship behavior, and they tend to believe that it has a strong impact on the careers of people who try it. When you’re a good organizational citizen, your experiences make your work feel more personally and professionally meaningful.

It’s important to understand, however, that the kind of responsibilities that make you a good organizational citizen don’t come looking for you; you need to open your eyes, learn what areas the organization needs work in, and volunteer to fill those roles. Making sure that you don’t overextend yourself, you can ask your HR department or your manager about what kind of areas they may need help in.

Once your new contributions to the company become a regular feature, you may ask your manager to adjust your job description to cover them. Before long, you’re likely to find that your new responsibilities give you the job satisfaction and fulfillment that you felt were missing.

Ask to help your colleagues

Lending a hand to coworkers who need help can be fulfilling. It can be an idea to ask your manager for ideas for how you may use your skills and experience to support those around you. You may be better at PowerPoint or Excel than many other people, for instance, and could offer to help tutor them.

Offer meaningful appreciation to others

Fulfillment doesn’t just come from having those around you express appreciation for the work you do. It can also come from expressing heartfelt appreciation for the work that others do.

Rather than mark your acknowledgment of the merit of someone’s work with a simple thank you, it can help to think about how exactly their work is special, about how it contributes to the advancement of the company, and to write down a few meaningful remarks.

You don’t need to be the leader of the team to express appreciation; you only need to be a sensitive and compassionate team player. You’ll find that being genuinely appreciative of others helps make your job feel more special than you thought possible.

Sign up for classes to learn new skills

It may be that it isn’t really your job that feels unfulfilling. Instead, it could be your skills that feel this way. Think about areas where you could improve and develop, and look for ways to come by the skills needed.

While educational institutions and online learning portals may certainly be able to provide you with important new skills, it can help to look at the internal learning and development department at your own company. It may offer you workshops and classes for free, that help you gain skills that translate into better performance at your job, and to greater fulfillment.

Talk to new people in your organization

Signing up for classes with your own company is useful for more than just the way it allows you to gain greater knowledge. It can also put you in touch with new people around the company. Actively expanding your professional circle to include people in parts of the company that you wouldn’t normally go to, can help you feel better about your company.

Socializing is a powerful way to feel better connected, and happier about your current situation. If you’re somewhat shy about reaching out to others, you could try to place a few convenient conversation starters around your workspace — family photographs, plaques or trophies and so on. These can get people to start talking to you.

Finally, you need to make sure that your mind isn’t projecting a lack of fulfillment in your personal life onto the life you have at the office. Even the best jobs can feel monotonous when you don’t have anything else going on in your life.

When you have a fulfilling life outside of work, you won’t find yourself looking to your work to provide you with all the satisfaction that you need in life. Finding new activities or hobbies that feel fulfilling may magically make your job feel much better than you believe it could.

The idea to take away is that when your job feels unfulfilling, it’s possible that it isn’t really the job itself that’s to blame.

You may need to fine-tune your job, finding responsibilities that feel meaningful, help others, show appreciation, and make sure that the other parts of your life are well-balanced.

When you try these ideas, you’re likely to find the fulfillment that you seek.

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