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What Happened to Joy and Fulfillment?

Joy and fulfillment

As I work with multiple companies and facilitate numerous courses, I’m often struck by the apparent lack of joy and fulfillment I see in and feel from executives, managers, and employees.


Have you also seen and felt this trend in your workplace?


What happened to the adage “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”


I suppose you could simply describe this phenomenon as “burnout”, but I prefer to think that in order to “love” a job, certain criteria have to be present. This list is in no particular order, because I believe each person prioritizes their value and importance based on their individual motivations.


I think all five of these criteria have to be there to achieve joy and fulfillment:

First is a sense of purpose and contribution – what I accomplish adds value to others and is seen as valuable by them – whether they are a client, a co-worker, a company, or a community. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why” (Mark Twain).


But, I think we also need to feel attached to something external to us in order to be fulfilled at our work.  There is also the adage, “The reward of a thing well done is to have done it” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).  I believe we have to have a sense that we contributed to others – especially when it’s our full-time job.


Second is when my personal values align with what I am accomplishing and why I am accomplishing it.  “To feel more fulfilled your actions and activities need to be in alignment with what you deem important” (Deborah Day).


I value making a positive difference in people, and giving them the opportunity to also make a difference in their own and other’s lives. That’s why I teach and consult: to see people’s eyes light up with understanding, potential, and possibility gives me a feeling of fulfillment.


Third is a feeling of proven competence.  I have the ability – learned through education and experience – and the required tools / structure to accomplish the task and create the product or service in a manner which meet both my personal and my client’s quality standards.


Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” (Steve Jobs)


Fourth is a sense of optimism – tomorrow is full of opportunity and I have the capability and the attitude to harness the potential that exists there and add value to it. “You can never complain your way to a fulfilling life” (Edmond Mbiaka).


Fifth is a feeling of personal responsibility and self-worth – that I made this happen – I am accountable for its creation and its result – without me, this could not have occurred with this level of quality and value.  “There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something” (Henry Ford).



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