People who are both happiest and most satisfied with their job work for themselves. That’s what many years of job satisfaction polling shows, and it’s confirmed by my own American Dream Project Research.
People who are the least happy with their jobs complain that they have high demand and low power. That’s a deadly combination. Literally. High demand jobs are ones in which you don’t set your own goals but rather are caught in a rising tide of never-ending, escalating demands. Low power jobs are ones in which you have little control over your time, resources, or who you work with. So who has high demand, low power jobs? It seems a lot of us.
Recent polling reveals that nearly 80% of current workers have searched for a new job with a new employer over the past three months. A larger majority of workers also report they are over stressed and unhappy at work more than 50% of the time. Whew. That’s a lot of lost productivity.
But wait, there’s more. Of the people who left their last job and found a new one in the past two years nearly 80% of them say their new job is just as stressful and unrewarding as the one they left. Now we know why. According to the US Department of Labor our economy has become machine like at creating high demand, low power jobs, and no matter where you work these twin energy drains make our work relentlessly stressful.
So what makes us happy and eager to work? Well, it’s not having lower demands. In fact, those most inspired by their work report that their work is highly demanding. The difference is that these optimistic, stress-resilient people feel powerful. That is, they feel they can make important decisions about how work gets done, when it gets done, whom they work with, and the resources they can access to create success.
Does that sound like a boss or a business owner?
The truth is we are all in business for ourselves. This is true even if we get a paycheck from a Fortune 500 company. Today there are no guarantees. Good, important jobs are eliminated every day in restructuring, mergers, and sudden business disruptions. Today’s average 25 year old will work for 12 different employers over a 40-year career.
The only security you have is to become great at something that motivates you. Then get very clear on how that adds value for others. That’s your career. When you pursue your best career instead of your next job, your future will change. When you become great at something you intrinsically enjoy you will feel a deeper sense of financial security because greatness is always in demand.
I realize you may think that what I am saying is an unrealistic pep talk. You may not know what you’re really good at. You may not know what work gives you energy. You may be out of work or so under-employed all you’re concerned about is getting a paycheck. I understand that. I talk to thousands of people who feel that way every year. Yet, let me assure you that people just like you have re-ignited their spark to take control of their work lives. It begins with daring to care about your career. It means taking the time to deeply consider your future. To form a fulfilling vision and to pay attention to the kinds of work that sparks your energy.
I’ve found that this quest for inner clarity is the key. So dare to care…care about your life, and your true, enduring happiness. I call this working to win. Winning begins by working for your best future starting now.