One Common Mistake to Avoid in the Search for True Job/Career Satisfaction

—Keith R. Sbiral

Ask yourself…

Are you happy?

Do you feel fulfilled?

Do you feel settled in your career?

Do you feel everything is clicking?

Job/Career Satisfaction

Job satisfaction, and for that matter career satisfaction, can play a big role in our overall happiness.  I don’t know many people who haven’t had the Sunday evening “workweek dread” come over them around 4:00 p.m.  But if that happens to you more weeks and sometimes days than not, you might need to consider whether you have real job satisfaction.

We all spend a big portion of our lives dedicated to work, job, or career, depending on how you want to classify it.  Let me explain in a bit more detail.

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The average human being lives 79 years.  In that time, if we assume they work in one form or another from the age of 22 to 67, they spend 45 years working.  A recent Pew analysis of data from the United States Department of Labor statistics show that the average American works 1811.16 hours each year.  That is 81,500 hours of your life consumed by your career.

Put a different way, if you sleep 8 hours a night (I’m sure many of you reading this WISH you slept 8 hours a night) you would sleep 230,680 hours.  That leaves 461,360 waking hours.  That means nearly 20 percent of your waking hours in your ENTIRE LIFE are consumed by work or career.

Now, I fully admit that these numbers can be modified and different studies can be cited to move the numbers up or down slightly.  But the key point here is that nearly a fifth of your adult waking hours relate to your job.  And there are many other metrics to show your career has an even bigger impact on your life.  Somewhere between 5 and 6 days a week on average are consumed in some part by your job, and typically 50 out of 52 weeks in a year are weeks in which you will in some way be working.

The point of this analysis is simple.  What we will call “Job Satisfaction” has a direct impact on your overall life satisfaction.  It has an impact on your family, your overall happiness, your sense of fulfillment, and your life satisfaction.  While we work to have work/life balance and we make every effort to not be defined by our jobs, at some level we can not escape the effect our jobs have on our lives.

So why are so many people dissatisfied?

With unemployment at unprecedented lows, a yearly survey conducted by The Conference Board shows that in 2018, for the first time in nearly 10 years, more than 50% of people report they are satisfied with their jobs.  How many you ask?  51%.  Still nearly half of all Americans are not satisfied or are unhappy with their job.  While this is the best showing in a decade, this is a dismal reflection on our workforce.

Whether you are the employer or the employee, nearly half of the workforce is dissatisfied with their current situation.  From the standpoint of efficiency and effectiveness of our workforce, it goes without saying that this is a real concern.

In career and career transition-based executive coaching, we deal with many aspects of job satisfaction, but time and again, some of the most common issues we see are people who are in the right career but the wrong job or organization, or are in a career that simply will never provide them with satisfaction, no matter how much they struggle.  It is important to note that these are two very different situations requiring very different solutions.

If you find yourself less than satisfied with your current job or career, it is worth taking the time to consider which of these challenges you are facing.  A change in job or organization (whether a change in the current job situation like a boss leaving, an internal move, or a move to a different job) and a change to a totally different career are two very different challenges.  It is crucial to take the time, most likely through a coaching engagement or at least some serious introspection, to flush out what category applies.

You may find that very minor modifications in your situation can leave you as excited about your job and career as you were the first day on the job.  Sometimes, even simply reframing your current situation or implementing tactics like Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction can provide a substantial enough change to bring satisfaction back to your work life.  On the flip side, sometimes people simply are misaligned in their career, the field has changed, or interests or realities of life have changed such that a full change in career is necessary for true satisfaction.  

One Common Mistake to Avoid

The common mistake we see is not fully understanding what WILL create satisfaction and happiness BEFORE pursuing it.  Regardless of which situation you might be in, it is VITALLY IMPORTANT to first determine your real situation.  Do the work to figure out what is causing you to be unsettled, unhappy, or unmotivated in your current employment situation.  The last thing you want to do, and unfortunately what happens far too often, is to send out résumés for the next hot job you hear about and go from one bad situation to the next over and over again.  Instead, truly take time to do the work and answer that first foundational question of whether the issue is the job you are in or the overall career.   Doing that will enable you to find the right solution for the right problem.

If you get up in the morning excited about the day ahead, you have goals you are working diligently on achieving, and you are truly happy and satisfied in your career, congratulations.  You can only achieve more, reach farther, and create greater results than you already have.  But if you answered even one of those initial questions that you are not happy, don’t have fulfillment, are unsettled in your career, or feel like something isn’t clicking, there are three important points to keep in mind:

  1. Regardless of what you may tell yourself, it is never too late to work on and improve your situation.

  2. There are resources that you can utilize, including coaching, to help you get from where you are to where you want to be much faster than you think possible.  The return on investment for these processes can be enormous.

  3. Your job/career consume far too much of your overall life to allow dissatisfaction to become acceptable as it will have ramifications on the remaining areas of your life.  You owe it to yourself — and those in your life — to act now and make a plan to change the situation you are facing.

Act now.  Find your satisfaction. You deserve to have a career you love rather than just tolerate. Need help getting started? Check out!

Do you have a job satisfaction success story you would like to tell?  Please comment below to help others know that job satisfaction can be just around the corner!

Keith R. Sbiral is a certified professional coach with Apochromatik specializing in executive coaching, career trajectory coaching, and career transition coaching.  Keith has nearly 20 years of experience working with employees to help them find their best career path.  Contact Keith directly at