Achieving Fulfillment in the Workplace: Myth or Reality?

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“Do what you love with your life.” “Make sure your work is fulfilling.” We’ve all heard these statements before. And for a lot of us, it can feel like a pipe dream. You have bills to pay, a family to feed, and responsibilities galore. And there’s no way you can afford to quit your job and spend all your time at the beach.

But sometimes, achieving fulfillment in the workplace is just about a different way of thinking.

First, let’s look at what “fulfillment” truly means to you. A sense of accomplishment? Contentment? Outside recognition? The internal knowledge that you’re just really good at what you do? Recognizing what will make you happy is an important part of achieving workplace fulfillment.

Fulfillment is a deeply personal thing, and it’s important to remember that fulfillment doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are steps you can take to help increase your chances of achieving it.

Identify the way you like to work. Do you prefer an established routine or variety and change? Is it more important to you to be in the process of a task or having finished it?

Whatever is missing in your current job that prevents you from being happy, think of outside-the-box ideas for you to get what you crave. For example, if you crave change and you’re in a job filled with routine, no matter how brilliant you are at it, your job won’t fulfill you. However, that doesn’t mean you have to go out and start looking for a new one! Try letting your supervisor know you’re interested in expanding your responsibilities and being involved in new initiatives.

Build positive relationships with coworkers. For most people, if there’s not at least one person you look forward to working with, it’s hard to be excited to go to work. Let’s face it, even the most unsocial of us needs a little support at times! Whether it’s knowing that your coworkers will pitch in to help you in a crunch or just that you can take a moment to laugh with them, positive relationships at work not only provide enjoyment, they reduce stress — and can help you feel more fulfilled.

Attitude — focusing on the positive. You’ll never be fulfilled if you dwell on what went wrong in the past … instead, come up with solutions on how to prevent it in the future. And, even more importantly, use this focus on the positive to figure out what you enjoy most in your job — and maybe even see if there are ways to increase those aspects!

Choose your environment. Do you thrive on interaction with people and a bustling, fast-paced atmosphere? Or do you feel more focused when things are quiet? If your environment is not supporting your preferred work method, you may be adding a lot of additional stress to your day — stress you don’t need.

Now, you can’t necessarily ask to be moved to the solitude of the basement — but if there’s any flexibility in your company, take advantage of it! If you need more interaction, ask about working on more group projects. If things just feel too hectic, maybe the solution can be as simple as noise-canceling headphones — or even seeing if you can be moved farther away from the copier.

Sometimes fulfillment is about adapting your attitude to your work — and sometimes it’s about adapting work to fit your attitude. Whichever it is for you, be assured — managing your expectations and attitude can make all the difference.

Agree? Disagree? Add your insightful comments here.