What is a women to do?
Short of leaving her career (which half are doing!), we are left to find a way through the quagmire so we can come out the other side happier women. That internal happiness, or satisfaction, is what makes us better professionals, mothers, spouses and humans.
Career satisfaction isn’t career bliss; no work is all fun and games or they wouldn’t call it work! There are ups and downs, politics and personality differences, delays and unreasonable deadlines. In my mind, career satisfactions comes when the ups outweigh the downs, and the challenges energize you rather than drain you. At least on the whole! I don’t discount that some days you feel like the soccer ball taking ALL the kicks!
Let’s talk about how to get through the quagmire.
Career Satisfaction: It Starts With Your Values
I’m sure you’ve heard this before but you can’t be truly satisfied until you know what you value. On top of that, I maintain that you need to prioritize your values, too.
For instance, if you value family and you value your career but family comes first, then you will always be stressed when your project requires you to travel away from home. If financial security ranks higher for you than the environment, you’ll always have trouble paying more for environmentally friendly products.
Understanding your values and how you rank them can lead to incredible insights about yourself and these can be important to your career.
I was deputy to the department head for six years, when all of a sudden I had to get out. Nothing had really changed much; I liked my boss, I liked my people, I liked the mission – but I had to get out. Why was I so itchy? Well, the answer lies in my values. I value growth and contribution. After six years, even the crises were routine and I felt stagnate. Feeling stuck made me feel as if I wasn’t contributing to my fullest. And that made me eager to leave that position.
Determining your values is deep work and requires some quiet time, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. I found a decent web site that automates the process for you. Simple yet effective, so I encourage all of you to give it a try.
Career Satisfaction: How Do Your Prioritized Values Help
Great! You have a list of your values in prioritized order! They are a thing of beauty.
If you put the time and thought into the exercise that it deserves, you now hold the key to your career satisfaction. Maybe even your life satisfaction…
You now have a filter through which to make decisions.
The more your decisions fit into your values, the more satisfied, i.e. happier, you will be.
I was fortunate when I got itchy that I had somewhere to go within the same organization, even though I left tech leadership entirely. But knowing my values made it easier to articulate to my boss, his boss, and ultimately, even the president of the company. I didn’t want to leave the company, I wanted to grow more and contribute more. And I made the case that I could do that by switching to leadership development.
I went from influencing 60 people in my department, to influencing 1700 people in the company. I’ve had to learn an incredible amount, but since that’s what I value, it isn’t even on my radar screen as a concern.
Knowing your values can point the spotlight on why you might be dissatisfied with your job currently. Maybe those societal norms are something you value, too, and that’s why they are stressing you out so much. Or maybe your husband is the god of housekeeping and that’s why your resent it so much when someone asks you to clean out the work fridge on Friday.
But awareness matters, and being aware of your own values and their hierarchy is an excellent starting point.
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: