Finding Satisfying Work

By: Henry Neils


Do you long for meaningful work?
Are you bored?
Are you feeling drained?
Are you restless and donít know why?
Do you feel like you are just putting in your time at work?

The solution is Alignment, and there are three steps:

  1. Discover what you are designed to do.
  2. Do it.
  3. Minimize everything else.
The idea is to align your work with your natural motivations and talents. Imagine what it would be like to use to do what you enjoy and are good at, in a compelling environment, working with interesting subject matter, and relating to others in a comfortable way. Can you picture what life would be like? Do you get a sense of how productive and energized you would be?

Too good to be true? No. But it does not happen overnight. Letís take a look at the steps involved.

1. Discover what you are designed to do.

This is what a career assessment helps you do. It pinpoints your motivations and their corresponding talents. This is good news, because most people can not articulate what it is they are designed to do.

2. Do it.

Itís all about Alignment. Align your work with your career assessment. Begin to make adjustments that will allow you to do what you are designed to do. Some changes will be incremental, and some may be radical. The idea is to spend more of your time using your strengths. That is where your performance and satisfaction both peak.

The natural place to begin is with your job. Once you are familiar with your career assessment ask yourself:
  1. What have you learned about why you do, or donít do, certain things at work?
  2. Which of your responsibilities draw upon your most motivated talents?
  3. Which of your highest motivations are rarely used?
  4. Which of your responsibilities call upon your lesser talents? What can you do about this?
  5. How does your job fit your preferred way of relating to others?
  6. Are the circumstances that motivate you present?
  7. Given your unique design, is there a position in your company that is a better fit than your current one? If so, what do you need to do to prepare for it?
  8. If you are feeling drained or burned out, which areas are out of alignment?
  9. If you feel you are in the wrong company or profession, what can you do about it?
Once you have resolved the questions above, it is time to share your motivations and talents with your boss. Include some examples or stories to illustrate them.

This is one of the most critical career moves you can make. Thatís because if you and your boss talk regularly about your career assessment, you greatly increase the likelihood that:
  • He or she will have realistic expectations of you.
  • You will get assignments that play to your strengths.
  • Together you will decide how to handle tasks that call on your minor talents.
  • Identify areas where training/experience/mentoring will be most helpful.
  • You will be able to spot opportunities and positions that are a good fit for you.
3. Minimize everything else

You are designed to do something, but not everything. A fork is designed to help us eat, and we do not expect it to be any good at driving nails. The same is true for you. You are designed to do something, but not everything. Let yourself off the hook a little. Do not spend too much time working on areas of low talent.

What if you must work in areas of low talent? You have some options. First, you can admit that you will never win the Nobel Prize in that area. Have honest expectations of your performance. Two, see if you can create some type of system to help you. For instance, a man with low talent for time management found that using a Palm Pilot was very helpful. Third, partner with someone who has high talent in that area.

This does not mean that anything that falls outside of your assessment can be shirked. We all have to do things we do not enjoy from time to time. We have responsibilities and duties that must be honored.

What it does mean is that we need to have realistic expectations of ourselves. The idea that everyone can be a well-rounded person, a Renaissance man or woman, is a myth. There are a few exceptionally gifted people in this world. But holding them up the wise person knows he or she has limitations.

© 2004. All rights reserved.

ďHenry Neils is President and Founder of Assessment.com, the leading online career assessment company focused on helping employees and employers work together for their mutual benefit. Millions of people have gained personal insight into their careers by using the tools, such as MAPPô (Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential), provided at Assessment.com.Ē.