The majority of Americans are unsatisfied with their work. Why is this? Although most of us would like to be paid more, a vague desire to receive a bigger paycheck does not create direction. We are unsatisfied with work (and life overall) because we don’t know what we want. Humans are holistic creatures. The various and unique facets that make you YOU must be taken into account.
People who are generally satisfied with life not only know themselves and their wants, they also act deliberately with that knowledge. Yet, many of us wander through life knowing that we want more out of it, we just don’t know what. Identifying what matters to you is key to being fulfilled in work and everyday life.
Ask yourself these 4 questions:
Do you know your priorities?
Knowing your priorities means knowing what you value. Think about what is most important to you. This may include a fulfilling career, spending time with family, studying God’s Word, expressing yourself creatively, and being challenged. Consider how much time and energy you dedicate to pursuing those priorities. If you are spending a serious amount of time and energy on something that you don’t value, let it go. Your priorities will inevitably differ from those around you. While one person may want new adventures, someone else may want to dig deeper into what they already know. Know what matters to YOU. Remember: Just because something you value is not lucrative does not mean it shouldn’t be a priority.
Do you know where you are going (and how to get there)?
While priorities reveal general values that matter to us, goals specify the what, when, and where of those priorities. Do you hope to receive a promotion or enter an entirely new field? Knowing where you are going means being able to write down a goal and discover what steps need to be taken to reach it. An example could be, “I want to be the Director of Operations at Make-A-Wish Foundation by June 2017.” If you need a mentor and/or education to teach you about leadership and provide the appropriate credentials, add those as steps to your goal. Remember: Goals are important but can change.
Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?
Knowing your unique talents and struggles will help you strategize how to reach your goals. Others may be better at pinpointing these areas. Consider asking for constructive feedback from people you trust. Use your strengths at every opportunity. Identify your weaknesses. Once flagged, weak areas must be dealt with. Improving yourself may mean being self-aware or learning a new skill. Part of knowing yourself is knowing how you interact with different kinds of people. Whenever possible, surround yourself with people who complement your strengths and weaknesses. Remember: Weak areas provide opportunities to learn and grow.
Do you feel you can give to others?
Those who feel they are in a good place are able to help lift others up. The psychologist, Abraham Maslow, is famous for developing the “Hierarchy of Needs.” Later in life, he asked the question, “What are the moments which give you the greatest satisfaction?” His discovery: content people are motivated by something other than themselves (self-transcendence). Serving the people around you indicates an overall happiness with life. Those who are simply trying to survive typically don’t have the energy to consider how they can mentor others. Remember: Thinking about another’s need, regardless of where you are in life, can be a source of joy.
Knowing your priorities, goals, abilities, and desire to serve can help you plan for the future and feel content in the now! Just because, at the moment, you are not where you want to end up, does not mean you must wait to feel satisfied. These four questions are simply a starting place for thinking through what might be holding you back from enjoying life. If you are interested in starting a path toward feeling more satisfied and goal-oriented, Concordia University Wisconsin offers a free course called “How To Create Your Personal Place.” This course is delivered to your inbox daily and has practical videos, worksheets, and essays to help you function at your highest capacity.