Career Fortitude



When it comes to unlocking joy in life and sustaining a positive experience in our daily life or obtaining career satisfaction, I subscribe to the wisdom shared by Fyodor Dostoevsky – “The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness.”  Time and time again I have needed to reflect on what has brought me dissatisfaction in order to uncover the source of satisfaction and happiness for myself.  Think about an obstacle you had to overcome that you couldn’t quickly identify how to work through it to unlock the happiness it was hindering.  What did you identify first, the feeling of unhappiness or the source of the issue?  Sometimes the source is easy to see, but for deeper-seeded unhappiness, it takes vulnerable and honest reflection to uncover.  The most impactful changes needed to improve happiness require dedication and energy to fully work through.

The greatest obstacles I have overcome in my career began with understanding why I was struggling to achieve my goals, professionally and personally.  When I felt like I didn’t have enough opportunities to travel and enjoy the hobbies that brought me joy, I identified that a larger salary would enable me to invest in my hobbies, travel, and experience more of the aspects of life that brought me joy that I was currently missing.  Initial thoughts of dissatisfaction and identifying what I was currently missing out on were easy to see.  To enjoy more in my personal life, I needed to earn a higher salary.  This example of wanting more money is a very general source that doesn’t uncover what specific actions need to be taken to achieve the goal.  Wanting a higher salary is a very basic example of identifying an aspect of a career that could be lacking in satisfaction, but it’s also a very universal obstacle.  Many aspects of your career could be the reason a higher salary is currently out of reach.  Lack of professional development opportunities, no feedback on your current performance, and needing education/training are some reasons leading to the ultimate dissatisfaction of not earning what you would like.

Besides salary, many other aspects of your career can lead to dissatisfaction.  Struggling with work/life balance, lack of vision for your career path, feeling unfulfilled in your work, or lacking professional confidence are a few more common examples that are at the core of dissatisfaction in a career.

Being satisfied in your career is crucial for personal fulfillment, professional success, and your overall well-being.  Your career is a significant aspect of your life, consuming a substantial portion of your time and energy.  To find long-term success and happiness in your career it’s critical to understand the source of unhappiness.  What makes this process tricky is the constant change we all experience.  It’s a part of our whole existence.  In the universe, in nature, and in our physiology and psychology things are always changing and evolving.  The career you created for yourself that brought fulfillment and satisfaction for 10 years might no longer meet your needs.  People gain wisdom and experience new things.  We learn new skills, get bored with tasks, have a bigger impact on others, lose interest in work, experience shifts in mindset, grow, gain interest in new activities, etc.

Some people can identify early what they want their career to be and can clearly see the path to execute it.  It might be more rare in modern times but it can happen, and there’s nothing wrong with it.  Today’s career pathway enables most professionals the opportunity to pivot and change their course to uncover joy in work and overall satisfaction.  Society is becoming more comfortable with embracing individualized experiences and being comfortable with accepting the need to constantly reflect and adjust career trajectory.  Some determine that a complete career change is necessary to achieve this.  Some find a less drastic pivot into a leadership role or maybe a lateral move into something new is just the spark needed to re-engage and find fulfillment in work.

Regardless of how big or small the changes in your career are, it’s important to invest the time and energy to reevaluate your satisfaction level throughout your career.  When you are satisfied with your career, you are more likely to experience a sense of purpose and fulfillment in your life. This sense of fulfillment extends beyond the workplace and positively impacts other areas of your life, including relationships, hobbies, and personal growth.  Change is difficult, but sacrificing your joy and health can cause long-term compounding complications.

Career progression is an area of our careers that can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction in our work.  Not knowing where your career path is taking you can lead to anxiety about your future success and ability to meet all your needs.  Career progression and visibility of career paths mean different things to different people.  I had very little interest in my career path when I was younger.  It wasn’t something that I spent much time pondering or having concerns over.  I was more interested in the short-term activities of my life.  Now, later in my career thinking about the future has become very important to me.  Instead of looking into the future for only a short time frame, I’m looking at 5 and 10 years out and also taking into consideration what retirement will look like.  If you’re finding yourself anxious about the lack of career progression or vision on how you’ll obtain what you need to be comfortable later in life, it’s time to reflect and dedicate the energy now to how you’ll pivot to set yourself up to succeed.

Learning and development is another area where people can stall out and find themselves stuck in a professional rut.  Continual growth leads to new experiences, wisdom, and opportunities.  Not only is challenging yourself to learn new skills and develop professionally important for obtaining a higher salary, but I believe it’s directly related to how much satisfaction and joy can come from our careers.  Have you ever been in a position where you felt extremely comfortable but knew that what was drawing you into that comfortable space was also hindering your opportunities?  I have felt it for sure.  A decent salary, familiar tasks, and lack of change are aspects of a job that can lead to becoming too comfortable and missing out on a larger salary, growth opportunities, and satisfaction.  If you go long periods not investing time to learn and grow in your career you can find later on that you’ve missed some important opportunities.  If your employer offers learning and development opportunities you should absolutely take advantage of them.  If your employer doesn’t offer them you’ll have to do some research on how and where you can continue on your own.  Sometimes speaking with your leader can lead to opportunities such as mentorship or outside training/certifications.

Having confidence at work plays a big part in your career path and accomplishments.  The level of confidence you have in your abilities and your influence on others can be the deciding factor in the progression of your career.  If you’re like me you don’t have the natural confidence as those around you, especially fellow leaders.  The good news is that just like learning new skills and developing talents, confidence can be improved as well.  As long as you have an understanding of where your confidence level is at now and how it would look to gain more, there’s a path to growing into confidence.  There’s a lot of self-observation and reflection when determining what drives your lack of confidence, but there’s also a need for support from others.  Your friends, co-workers, and boss all can be useful resources by providing feedback and reinforcement.  It’s unrealistic to expect someone to be completely confident with every situation and new challenges, but I believe it’s important to spend the time and energy to gain knowledge on what creates your personal insecurities in order to grow.

A proactive approach to professional growth not only benefits you personally but also enhances your value to your employer and opens up new opportunities for career advancement.  For many aspiring professionals, forming a partnership with a coach to gain a better understanding of how to improve career satisfaction results in reaping the benefits of coaching and development.  Dedication to a holistic approach is necessary to fully dive into what’s at the core of dissatisfaction at work and what action needs to be taken to improve overall career fulfillment.

Career satisfaction contributes to overall well-being and mental health.  Dissatisfaction in your career can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and burnout.  Conversely, finding satisfaction in your career can improve your mental health and well-being, leading to greater resilience and coping abilities in the face of challenges.  I hope you take the time to reflect on your sources of unhappiness at work to help identify steps to improve your situation.  It’s an investment well worth making.

Click HERE to receive my Career Satisfaction Worksheet that not only identifies areas of your dissatisfaction but also gets you started on creating an action plan to improve your situation.  This proven activity will help you to identify areas of your career where dissatisfaction grows and get you on the path of self-reflection and action.

Take a few minutes and invest in yourself to better understand your current career satisfaction.

Philip Hilt – Leadership & Career Coach

Sign Up for the Career Fortitude Newsletter to receive more valuable information:

* indicates required

Leave a Reply