While working towards financial independence, you may get stuck in a job where you find it difficult to experience job satisfaction, for any number of reasons.
I’ve been there myself.
During and between my two pregnancies, I worked for a boss who made life difficult for me.
I was undergoing demanding fertility treatments and also caring for my dying mother, and I couldn’t imagine also looking for a job or changing careers – so I had to put up with several years of working under a disapproving boss.
There may be many personal reasons why you might have to stay in a job where you’re no longer happy, at least for a while.
Achieve Job Satisfaction Anyway
Sometimes we have to put on our rain gear and walk out into the storm. But how do we defy the gloomy weather and enjoy jumping in the puddles as we move forward?
I had several years to practice cultivating small moments of happiness and creating job satisfaction in an otherwise difficult situation.
Because that’s life sometimes – at least before you achieve financial independence.
There’ll be times when you have to pull yourself together, show up and just do the work.
Day in and day out – even when it’s really hard.
The good news is that you have the power to control how bad it feels. You can make the best of it.
Here are my seven tricks for achieving more job satisfaction:
1. Remind Yourself Why You Took the Job
You must have had some positive reasons for taking the job. Perhaps you saw it as a step towards something else.
Focus on what you get out of it.
Try to remember where you were when you took the job. Maybe you needed the income? Maybe it was a step in a new direction you wanted to go in? Maybe it was something you wanted to try out?
In my case, I remembered that it was my dream to become a newspaper journalist. I wanted to be part of solving problems. I got to focus on trying to help or entertain people every day.
I was there for the reader. I was there for the greater good.
My job was not so much about me, and that made it easier to show up every day. Oh yeah – and the money was pretty nice too.
2. Cultivate Gratitude
Every day, find three things that you are grateful for during your workday. Everything counts.
Whether it’s lunch in the cafeteria, laughing and joking with a kind colleague, the view from your desk, or a new budding friendship.
Write down what you are grateful for.
Read it later and savor the feeling. Practicing gratitude really helps increase job satisfaction.
In my case, my gratitude was about the small things. The sight of snowflakes on Copenhagen City Hall. A walk in the park during my lunch break. Warm rye bread with butter from the cafeteria in the morning.
3. Remember Who You Are Helping
In any job, you are helping someone.
If you’re managing a shop at a gas station, think of all the motorists you’re helping to get where they need to go.
Without you, they wouldn’t be able to visit their sick Aunt Helen in the countryside or pick up their children from school.
Your help is important.
Knowing that you contribute also helps increase job satisfaction.
4. Set Boundaries
You need to take care of yourself and make sure you set solid boundaries, whether it’s leaving on time or getting a little fresh air during your lunch break.
Maybe your boundaries are about saying no to tasks that aren’t really yours.
Set your boundary – but do it kindly.
Remember, you don’t always have to explain. You can just state it.
Sometimes we make ourselves weaker by explaining, because in reality we are trying to justify ourselves and get the other person’s permission to set a boundary. You can’t always expect that.
Just state your boundary, shut up and smile.
“Unfortunately, I can’t do that today.”
5. Make Sure to Do More Than You’re Paid For
You need to set boundaries and take care of yourself. But… you should also look for opportunities to give more than what is expected of you.
Is it possible to do both? To give more than expected and maintain your boundaries at the same time?
Yes, of course it is.
You can leave on time and make sure you get enough rest, while also doing something extra to help while you’re at work.
Let’s go back to the example of the gas station attendant.
The other day, I needed air in my tires. I found a tiny gas station where the owner always provides the most wonderful service. I was standing there looking puzzled at the water hose (don’t ask). The owner came running out to give me the correct hose. Not only that: he put air in my tires for me and explained everything about it.
Putting air in your tires is a free self-service. I had just been to another gas station that had a hole in the air hose – which meant it was actually sucking air out of my tires. When I mentioned it to the teenager working behind the counter, I only received a shrug.
The friendly gas station owner refused payment. In return, he can be sure that I will fill up there from now on.
So ask yourself: where can you be extra helpful today? Who can you smile at? Who can you give a little boost to – without expecting anything in return?
6. Reward Yourself After an Effort
When I worked in a difficult environment with tasks that didn’t suit me well, I always made sure to have something good waiting for me after a specific task.
I wasn’t allowed to have my first cup of coffee until I had planned my day’s work.
Only when I had done the interviews was I allowed to have lunch.
When I had written the draft for the first article, I rewarded myself with a 10 to 15-minute walk.
I also use this as a motivation trick with my kids every day: “Yes, when you have tidied up, we can play tag.”
7. Build Up Your Skills and Your Brand
Look ahead to the next thing in life and start preparing.
You need to build two things up: your skills and your brand.
You build up your skills by learning something every day. You can learn on the job and by taking courses, furthering your education, reading, and learning.
You build up your personal brand by networking and through your online presence.
Are you already in the industry you want to make a career in? Then make sure to expand your network.
Create an online presence by using social media to connect with relevant people, and make sure to share helpful professional tips there. SoMe is another way to network.
8. Use Time to Build Assets
I know I said seven tricks, but here comes the one about giving more than expected… you get an eighth point here.
It’s important to set aside money and invest so that you can become financially independent, so you can avoid being forced to stay at an unpleasant workplace in the future.
You can use time to your advantage to become better at investing. Learn more about how in my e-book Free Yourself. You can download it here.
You can learn how to do your own analysis and calculations in my e-book right here.