Saturday, November 20, 2010

Duh! Like I didn't know this! I just took a quiz to tell me what I know already. Genius! (Reeeeallllly Looong!)

The External Path helps you to focus on the job characteristics that most affect your happiness, showing you ways to make improvements in these areas. These changes can take the form of big actions that involve real risk, such as quitting your job and starting your own business. Or the changes can be smaller actions that can also move you down the path towards career happiness, such as negotiating a raise or job sharing.

Two Paths to Career Satisfaction

However, while addressing the External aspects of your job will help improve your career satisfaction, it is only half the battle.
Many people find that even after they have addressed all of their specific areas of dissatisfaction and have maximized the benefits they receive from their careers, they still feel dissatisfied. Like hamsters in a wheel, they just do not feel that they are getting anywhere.
That is because only focusing on the External is not enough. Many approaches to career satisfaction do just this, ignoring the other side of the job satisfaction coin: the Internal Path.
The Internal Path involves changing your perspective, changing how you think about your career. By altering your expectations and perceptions you can find your way to deeper career and life satisfaction. It is not easy, but being more accepting, grateful and optimistic about your career can have a significant impact on your overall level of satisfaction.
By exploring both the Internal and External Paths, you will have the best chance of attaining true career happiness.
Before you take any action, it is helpful to see your scores for the 19 job characteristics that most directly affect career satisfaction. In the chart below, your results are measured in percentiles so that you can compare your satisfaction to that of other people like you.
Percentile Profile




Coworker Relationships 
Job Security



Work Conditions

Work Content 
Work Flexibility 
Work Life Balance 

It can be helpful to pay particular attention both to areas on which you score extremely high and extremely low. Areas that you score highest on are: Workload, Commute and Autonomy. These are your areas of strength and satisfaction. They also represent things you may have to give up if you decide to make a bigger career change. The areas that you score the lowest on are Importance , Prestige and Work Content . These are the main culprits for your career dissatisfaction.
(Future Blog. Answering the below questions...)
It is natural to want to do work that matters. But, for some reason, your previous job did not feel important or meaningful. Here are some ways to focus in on jobs that will bring you the fulfillment you desire:
  • Be mission-driven. 
    Research organizations whose vision and mission appeal to you. Whether it is an ambitious corporate vision or eliminating world hunger, make sure you connect with the larger goals of the organization. If you get an interview, pay attention to whether people "live" the mission. Ask how their day-to-day work translates to achieving their vision.
  • Explore a wider variety of options. 
    If you did not find meaning in your previous job, why look for the same type of work? Many people who dislike their jobs end up accepting new jobs that are quite similar. Branch out. Consider working in a different industry, for example. While you may be doing similar tasks, perhaps the excitement of a new product or field will inspire you.
  • Use informational interviews. 
    If you are considering a new career, informational interviews can give you get a deeper understanding of what a job truly entails. Shadow someone who works in your target career as they tackle their daily challenges. See if you can imagine yourself doing the type of work they do and finding it meaningful.
  • Volunteer. 
    A career change can be a big commitment. Spending a couple of hours a week as a volunteer is a small investment you can make that can help you assess if the particular job or industry is the right move for you. You'll gain experience, new contacts, and, once you prove that you are invaluable, a volunteer position can also lead to a job.
While finding a new job may be the answer, it can be helpful to examine your beliefs and assumptions about the importance of certain kinds of work. Here are a few things to consider:
  • Job, Career or Calling? 
    People have different expectations when it comes to their work: People with Jobs care most about the financial rewards rather than the pleasure or fulfillment they feel. Many of them find their true enjoyment outside of their 9-to-5 existence. Those with Careers focus primarily on achievement and advancement. While they may gain quite a bit of satisfaction in their work, it is often associated with the prestige that comes from external sources (like recognition or raises). Those who have a Calling find their work fulfilling in its own right, regardless of compensation or advancement. Which one of these descriptions sounds the most like you? Or do you have your own personal philosophy around work. As long as you accept where you are, there's no right or wrong answer.
  • Define meaning for yourself. 
    Are you aspiring to someone else's definition of importance? Who can say which is more altruistic-a doctor, a teacher, a social worker? Each job has its own purpose and meaning. Don't succumb to pressures to conform to narrow views of what meaning, importance or fulfillment is. You don't need to join the Peace Corps to make a difference. Perhaps you are making the biggest difference just by being the best at what you do.
  • Don't underestimate yourself. 
    Regardless of the role you play, take pride in your contribution, big or small. Rather than being critical of your job duties, focus on the aspects of your job that are important or meaningful. You are spending your most valuable resource, your time and life energy at work, so try to make the most of it. Even if you are not the CEO, your honest day's work is one part of what keeps your organization going.
  • Follow your passion. 
    Studies have shown that people find their careers more satisfying and meaningful if they are doing work that closely matches their interests. Haven't found your passion yet? Think about the parts of your job that you enjoy doing-which you would want to do even if you weren't paid. Think about the times that you get so engrossed in your work that you aren't aware of time passing. Think about how you spend your time outside of work. These clues can lead you to the work that you can be excited about.
There are many ways that we can increase your level of fulfillment and meaning, taking steps to change the way you work or the way you perceive work can start you in the right direction.
Since you are dissatisfied with the status and prestige associated with your career, it's more likely to be the latter.
There is an increasing body of evidence that shows that the amount of prestige the public assigns to your job plays a significant role in your career satisfaction. Here are ways to ensure your next job provides what you desire in terms of respect and status:
  • Apply to challenging, high profile jobs. 
    Since prestige is important to you, your title and job description should inspire respect. Select challenging leadership roles that will showcase your greatest talents and strengths. Avoid jobs that do not have clear paths for advancement or have you working alone or in the shadows. If you are not ready for such a bold career move, keep the big vision in mind and take baby steps. Build your skills, experience and confidence first and move your way gradually up the ladder or towards your goal.
  • Look beyond the mystique. 
    Television and the movies have made some jobs look more glamorous than they actually are. Before you decide to pursue what you think is a more prestigious profession, find out what those jobs are really like. The reality is that lawyers, doctors and advertising executives have to do tedious and grueling work on a regular basis.
  • Dip your toe in. 
    Many "prestigious" jobs require years of education and training. Before you invest a lot of time and money, get an informational interview, volunteer or take a course about your target career field. These are great ways to test the waters before taking the plunge.
While finding a job that is held in higher esteem may address your dissatisfaction, there are also ways to develop a greater sense of pride internally. Gaining a better understanding of what people truly admire as well as changing your own views can help you to feel better about your work no matter what your occupation.
  • Check your beliefs. 
    Many people assume that money, fame and power are what get respect. In actuality, the most lucrative jobs are not the most prestigious. Jobs that contribute to the community or help people in great need are held in much higher esteem than flashy jobs like professional athletes or movie stars.
  • Define prestige for yourself. 
    Who are you trying to impress? Your neighbors? Your parents? Your spouse? While making your loved ones proud is a noble goal, you will never gain others' respect by measuring yourself against someone else's yardstick. Since it is a moving target, you will always come up short. Act with integrity, have conviction and believe in the contributions you make, regardless of others' opinions.
  • Find a sense of accomplishment. 
    Think of the times that you've been proud of yourself at work. It could be when you supported a colleague, met a tight deadline or received a compliment from a customer. Even if you don't try to save the world each and every day, find something to feel proud about.
  • Share your passion. 
    Think of yourself as a spokesperson for your profession. While others may not be immediately dazzled by what you do, you might be able to win them over with your enthusiasm. If you find your work fascinating, chances are someone else will too. Exuberance is contagious.

Enjoying the work you do everyday is a cornerstone of career satisfaction. Your previous job left you feeling bored and uninspired. It was probably an internal battle just to show up for work, let alone feel happy about it.
Now, you are seeking work that is more interesting and exciting. But how do you know which jobs will meet your expectations? You do not want to fall into the "grass is greener" trap, only to discover your new job has the same mundane tasks that you were trying to escape.
Before pursuing a new job, it makes sense to first examine what kind of work actually does make you happy.
People who love their work often find that their day has flown by. Artists, for example, can get so lost in their work, that they forget to eat or sleep and may not interact with people for days. (Not that that is necessarily the ideal!)
Scientists define such experiences as "flow" experiences. Flow is defined as engaging in an experience that is so gratifying that you are not aware of the time passing.
When do you experience flow? Whether it is working with customers or crafting PowerPoint presentations, identify which activities and projects give you the experience of flow and which do not.
Once you have identified your flow experiences, you can start to look for job descriptions that include these activities. Below you will find additional suggestions for how to ensure that your future job has the best chances of making you happy:
  • Clearly define what you do/do not want. 
    If you fundamentally want to work with people, avoid anything that will stick you alone behind a desk struggling with spreadsheets every day. Be sure you do not end up in a similar or worse situation in your next position.
  • Do your due diligence. 
    Job ads and interviews may portray a job in a certain light to attract candidates. While you are interviewing, find out as much detail as you can about the job duties and how they are accomplished. Ask why the previous person left the position. Gather all the information you need to assess whether the job content would truly keep your interest.
  • Explore a wider variety of options. 
    If you are truly bored with your job, why look for the same type of work? Many people who dislike their jobs end up accepting new jobs that are quite similar. Branch out. Consider working in a different industry, for example. While you may be doing similar tasks, perhaps the excitement of a new product or field will inspire you. Or identify your transferable skills and consider a bigger career change.
  • Use informational interviews. 
    If you are considering a new career, informational interviews are a great way to get a deeper understanding of what a job entails. Shadow someone who works in your target career as they tackle their average day challenges. See if you can imagine yourself doing the type of work they do and enjoying it. Be sure to find out how they paid their dues and how they got where they are today.
While finding a new more interesting job may be the answer, it is important for you to step back and examine exactly why you became disengaged from your previous work. Only then can you feel confident that you will not fall into a similar pattern in your next job.
If you cannot remember any time that you have felt happy in a past job, perhaps it is your perspective that needs adjusting. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Go for it. 
    Many people who find their work dull do not bother to challenge themselves. Sometimes it is easier not to put your best effort forward. To truly give yourself a chance at career happiness, you have to be willing to take risks and make mistakes. Only then will you find what truly makes you happy.
  • Be grateful. 
    Do you perpetually see the glass half empty? If this is the case, you are likely to feel dissatisfied with your job content, no matter what job or career you choose. Studies have shown that the practice of being grateful can help boost your overall satisfaction level. Start a gratitude journal and write down all the things about your career that you appreciate.
  • Seek guidance. 
    Talking to a mentor, coach or therapist or can help you gain perspective. If shifting perspective feels too impossible or unlikely, it can be useful to get this outside extra help.
Your time is precious. You spend the majority of your waking hours at work. You owe it to yourself to take action and ensure your job is engaging and enjoyable.
At your previous job, your relationship with your supervisor was strained. You felt discouraged or, at the very least, unmotivated. It could have been that your boss' management style rubbed you the wrong way, or that you just did not seem to be on the same wavelength.
You are not alone in your dissatisfaction. Research says the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they fail to connect with their bosses. In the worst cases, bosses can be clueless, unresponsive or unforgiving micromanagers.
To ensure that your next job or boss is a better match for you, here are some things to consider:
  • Pay attention to subtle cues. 
    As you begin to weigh new opportunities, take a good look at the personalities you encounter. If you are invited for an interview, observe the person who would supervise you. Would you enjoy working for this person on a daily basis? Take a look at the people who work for your potential boss. Do they seem happy or miserable?
  • Ask about turnover rate. 
    Supervisors who manage effectively and have good relationships with their direct reports generally have lower turnover. Ask about turnover in general as well as specific statistics for your potential supervisor's team. This will give you a better idea of the manager's effectiveness vs. that of the entire company.
There are going to be challenging supervisors no matter where you go. A change in the workplace may indeed do some good, but there are also steps that you can take to improve your chances for building a better relationship with your next boss.
  • Examine your expectations. 
    What do you want to get out of your relationship with your boss? Respect? Recognition? Support? While you should expect a minimum level for each of these, it may take a consistent track record of high performance for your boss to give you what you desire. Put in the time, commitment and effort to prove to your boss that you deserve it.
  • Stop blaming. 
    It is easy to blame your supervisor for anything and everything you dislike about your job. But is it really your supervisor's fault? Could it be the shortcomings of the organization or strict policies that are beyond your manager's control? Often managers would like to be more generous and flexible but they need to hold the company line. In your next job, try understanding your supervisor's point of view and working together come to mutually satisfactory solutions.
  • Check your signals. 
    Maybe you're the one who can't adapt your communication style. Without being aware of it, you might be being critical, demanding or disrespectful. Ask someone you trust-preferably a coworker-how you come across. Being aware of how you are perceived could be one of the most important steps towards improving your relationship with your supervisor.
  • Be positive. 
    If you have a tendency to concentrate on all the things that your supervisor does wrong, you can fall into a pattern of negative thinking that may blind you to your boss' good qualities. Try to identify what works and what you appreciate about your boss. Separate the person from the behavior. This can go a long way toward building mutual respect and a better relationship.
  • Set your own career goals. 
    You can't solely rely on your boss for your career growth and advancement. If you are not getting the support you need, take control by setting your own short-, medium- and long-term goals. Having your own clear vision of what you want out of your job can empower you to look beyond this one stifling relationship.
  • Gain personal insight. 
    Dealing with difficult bosses can help you to learn a lot about yourself and how you deal with conflict. You may even start to recognize recurring patterns, not only with previous supervisors but with personal relationships such as friends, significant others and family. Are there any common factors contributing to these recurring patterns? What part do you play? Identifying what you can do to improve your ability to handle or avoid potentially toxic or unhealthy relationships is a life lesson that is worth learning.
Your relationship with your supervisor is an essential part of your overall job satisfaction. If it has made you miserable in the past, do your homework before accepting the next position. Also, make an effort to understand how you may be contributing to the problem. This can help you avoid future tension and stress.
Total compensation is not only determined by the wages an employee earns, but also by the paid and unpaid benefits received. With the rising cost of health care, especially, benefits are a larger component of compensation than ever before. Some benefits can be just as valuable as a salary increase, if not more, both in a monetary sense and in terms of the satisfaction they can give you with your job.
You feel that the benefits that your previous organization provided did not meet your needs. With over 47 million uninsured Americans (about 16% of the population), you are in good company. But what can you do about it? Here are suggestions on how you can negotiate the best benefits package for your next job:
Consider the industry. 
  • Some career fields and jobs are known to offer better benefit than others. Employees working in education, government, healthcare or large corporations tend to receive comprehensive coverage as well as other perks. Small businesses, on the other hand, are the least likely to be able to afford top tier benefits for their workers. If benefits are at the top of your list, you may consider transitioning to another industry.
Separate benefits from salary. 
  • Your salary should be based on the objective market value of your skills and experience. Your benefits, most of which are not taxable, should be more tailored to your needs. Most experts agree that just as with salary negotiations, do not discuss benefits until you have an offer in hand so as not to undercut yourself.
Tailor your package. 
  • Do not be afraid to get specific. Savvy employees are asking for, and getting, a full spectrum of benefits, including: non-traditional work hours, a generic expense account, extra vacation time, relocation packages, coveted parking spaces, and improved office space. There is greater room for negotiation than you might realize. If you are worth your salt, your prospective employer will at least try to work with you. You may not be able to get everything you want but you should get what you need.
Ask strategically. 
  • Partner with the hiring manager. Point out that most benefits are not a direct monetary expense and emphasize the benefits to the company of offering a more comprehensive benefits package. Unpaid time off, for example, does not cost the company a dime, yet it allows employees to recharge.
Build a case. 
  • If you are asking for an exception, first understand what is behind the policy. Do your homework by reading through the employee manual and considering separate but equal suggestions. Get creative and do not accept the first "no" or "that wouldn't be fair" as an answer. Probe to understand what is behind it and see if there is any wiggle room.
Persistence is rewarded. 
  • Keep negotiating, even after you have been hired. You hold a stronger hand every time you initiate the conversation. Managers are more willing to go to bat for the known, trusted employee.
While these suggestions should help you to negotiate your way to the best benefits package possible, it is also a good idea to take a step back to look at what "benefits" mean to you, what you really need and why. Here are some ways to help you to gain this perspective.
Know the value of your benefits. 
Before you include free meals and car service in your list of demands, it always helps to be aware of the value of the benefits being offered. While you may think that the package leaves something to be desired, consider the fact that many workers have no health insurance at all or have to pay a premium price for a small amount of coverage. It is important, even while you negotiate, to be appreciative for what is on the table. Take the time to understand what these benefits are worth from a monetary standpoint and attempt to sympathize with the dilemma that employers face with rising costs.
Identify and evaluate your needs. 
  • What are your requirements as far as your benefits are concerned? Is it really important to you to have the ability to telecommute, for example, or do you want this perk simply because you know a lot of people with this flexibility. Separate the deal breakers and the concessions from the essentials before you make any requests and consider an offer.
With the ever-increasing prices of health care insurance, the highly competitive job market and the volatile economy, your future may be greatly enhanced by a solid benefits plan. Be sure you are armed with a clear understanding of your needs and what prospective companies offer so that you can strategically present your requests to your best advantage.

How To Be Happy With What You Have

Traditional vs Positive Psychology

Throughout your Career Satisfaction Report, we have directly addressed your External Path to career satisfaction by giving you specific advice for making changes to the aspects of a job that have caused you the most distress.You do not find career happiness. You make career happiness. You choose career happiness every day.
The above statements demonstrate how to apply Positive Psychology, the science of happiness, to the subject of career satisfaction.
Rather than treating disorders or ailments of the mind like other forms of psychology, Positive Psychology uses the scientific method to explore mental "wellness" and to uncover what it is that makes people happy. It attempts to identify how human beings can live a full life consisting of three identified components of happiness: enjoyment, engagement and meaning.

We have also given you advice for the Internal Path: ways to change the way you think about specific aspects of a job so that you can feel more satisfied, without actually changing anything about a job itself. These techniques for addressing the Internal Path are called Positive Psychology Interventions.
Positive Interventions
While scientists used to believe that genes determined how happy someone could be, it is now believed that there are things you can do to positively affect your level of happiness. In addition to the specific Internal Path advice this report has given you, here are some general Positive Intervention activities that have been proven to make people happier over time:
  • Appreciate what you have.
     Start a gratitude journal. At the end of the day, write down the positive things that happened at work. Both little and big things count--whether it is enjoying a coffee break with a co-worker or a stellar performance review.
  • Use your signature strengths.
     Identify your unique strengths and use them as often as you can and in a variety of ways throughout your work day.
  • Thank a mentor.
     Write a letter thanking someone who has given you guidance in your career. If possible, read the letter to him or her in person.
  • Reflect on you at your best.
     Write about a time when you were proud of yourself at work. Think about the admirable qualities you displayed and review the story whenever you doubt yourself.
  • Engage in flow activities.
     Identify tasks that you enjoy so much that you lose track of time. Try to engage in flow activities as much as possible.
These Positive Interventions will change how you view your job. While they do not address specific desires and expectations, they have been shown to help increase the level of enjoyment, engagement and meaning you experience in your work life.

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