Statistics show that a majority of Americans are unhappy at work. And no wonder: unemployment rate has been high over the past five years; that means people who are employed are often underemployed, paid less, and not given the opportunities to develop within the organization. Then there is the dissatisfaction about the work itself, which might not be so intellectually stimulating and emotionally fulfilling. Office politics, horrible bosses, long commute…the list goes on.
In this situation, the de rigeur advice is to find a new, more compelling opportunity and jump ship. For some people who have really outgrown their position, this is still a great advice to move their career forward. But sometimes it is also beneficial to change your mind set before you change your job, as this intriguing Harvard Business Review article by John Lees notes. The point of work isn’t to be fulfilled and engaged 5 days a week, Lees argues: there is no job in the world that can be 100% satisfying at all times. He suggests instead that if 3 1/2 days a week is spent on fulfilling tasks, and the rest of the time to grunt work, the job should be considered satisfactory. It sounds radical to our notion of constant professional fulfillment, but also refreshingly reasonable–I, for one, am glad to think that it’s okay if I don’t love my job every minute of the work day. And even when you do love to do something, there’s no guarantee you will enjoy it every single time. I’m a bookworm, but even I don’t love taking manuscripts home, because nothing is fun when you have to do it.
Here’s another idea for boosting your job satisfaction without secretly sneaking out for interviews: close friendships at work increase employee satisfaction by a whopping 50%. So grab lunch with your coworkers and head out to happy hour after work. Not only do work friends provide emotional support, they could also provide leads professionally–and help you land that new job, if you’ve truly outgrown your position.