Image © omnimages,

Image © omnimages,

Happily Ever After Work


Article from ADMIN 75/2023
The quest for job satisfaction.

I have a small group of former co-worker friends that still maintain contact. However, our geographic diversity makes it impossible to gather at a local restaurant for those occasional intellectual exchanges. The other evening, we had a conference call to catch up on our jobs, families, vacations, and miscellaneous topics. One of the job-related topics we touched on was how our expectations of a job and job experience are often quite different. We decided we needed to modulate our expectations or sharpen our job choosers. Fixing one or the other would result in huge improvements in job satisfaction.

Job satisfaction, to some, might seem to be an oxymoron, but it shouldn't be. Job satisfaction should be more than just a phrase used by journalists and HR people; it should be a thing that's sought after by employees and promoted by company executives. I know it's a time-honored tradition to hate your job because they pay you to do it, but we spend one-third (or more if you're a system administrator) of our life at work, and we shouldn't hate one-third of our life experience.

Job satisfaction leads to life satisfaction, because if you hate your job, it will affect the rest of your life – yes, even your sleep. It affects your relationships, parenting, interactions with outsiders, and energy levels. Being unhappy in your job has many negative consequences on the quality of your life, including shortening your life expectancy.

Some companies tout what's now called work-life balance. Work-life balance is one of those things that works on paper but isn't necessarily attainable in real life. Writers often create entire articles around maintaining a work-life balance, but they aren't system administrators, are they? I just read an article about work-life balance where the writer lists, "Find a job that you're so passionate about that you'd do it for free." I'll make a note of that and then crumble it up and toss it in the trash can. Most of us must work and don't have the option of choosing passion for what we do. I'd rather be a comedian or make films all day. I'd rather write or paint. Maybe if I'd started on something I felt more passionate about earlier in life, I wouldn't have to consider work-life balance.

My former co-workers and I agree that we're too good at what we do to stop now to follow our unrealized dreams. We have too much invested in what we've done. We've accomplished too much. We've created dependencies and expectations that supersede our lofty job satisfaction goals. Sure, we like what we do and were once passionate about it. We assumed that we'd always love what we do. Times have changed. We've changed. We've evolved. And we realize that we are more than just our jobs. We are more than that one-third. Our priorities have shifted from wanting more out of a career to needing more out of life.

I stated earlier that job satisfaction leads to life satisfaction, and perhaps you agreed with that statement, but what if it was the other way around? Life satisfaction leads to job satisfaction. Our lives become so centered around work and career that we focus on it even when not at work. Instead, we should create a happy life outside work and let work take care of itself. In other words, shift focus from "living to work" to "working to live." Once you make that mental shift, your whole perspective changes.

One of my co-workers used to live in Argentina. "They had it right," he said. "They work to live, and we live to work. And they are so much happier." It's a good lesson to learn. Sure, work is important. Work is necessary. Jobs are essential to survival, but it stops there. A career is not your family, it's not your spouse, and it's not you. You've learned to work, and now it's time to learn to live the life you want. The whole point is not to find the perfect job or embark on a quest for job satisfaction. The goal is to build a happy life and to find a job that works for you.

Ken Hess * ADMIN Senior Editor

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