How to be happy at work – One Question Away from Job Satisfaction

I finally landed my dream job, so I thought. Yet one of the 3 Ps – People, Place, and Position – inevitably seemed to be amiss. With people, there was either too little fraternization or too much ego. With place, there were intolerable working conditions such as being seated next to an impossibly loud talker, a kitchen refrigerator performing double-duty as a Petri dish, and, of course, an indispensible permanently-stained coffee pot. With position, it was an undignified salary, mundane and unchallenging tasks, and no relevancy to my interests and passions.

Most every person understands what it feels like to be discontent with a job. It is frustrating, discouraging, and infuriating. Fortunately, there is a remedy. Simply ask yourself, What can I do? This could be anything from quitting to pursuing your original dream of a social work masters degree. Be careful though; there are a wrong way and a right way to pose this question. The former is said full of resignation and with emphasis on the word DO. The latter is said full of optimism and with emphasis on the word CAN. What CAN I do?

This question prompts one to think positively instead of negatively, to favor empowerment over disenfranchisement, to concentrate on the possible instead of the impossible. If there is too little fraternity in the office, then generate ideas that can bring people together such as hosting a BBQ, organizing a company sports team, or coordinating happy hour. If you are forced to drink coffee from an old nasty coffee pot that has not been cleaned in over 5 years, then present some arguments – improved sanitary conditions will result in improved employee attendance, lower expenses on coffee, filters, wash soap and sponges – to HR for replacing the drip with an automatic coffee machine. If you are under-challenged and bored with your position, then develop and pitch a customized position that both benefits the company and incorporates your interests and skills set.

By asking myself What CAN I do? I am suddenly liberated from the rat race, my view of the world is broadened, and I am receptive to new possibilities.