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The Way Forward

By Montrese Hamilton, Published on October 19, 2010

Economic conditions are still in flux and the employment outlook defies easy forecasting. Consequently, moving up Maslow's hierarchy toward greater job satisfaction may not include changing employers. To learn more about how information professionals can deepen contentment in-place, I contacted well-known career coach Marshall Brown for insight.

TWF: Turning from survival to satisfaction as the economy improves, how can we energize ourselves to re-engage with our work?

MB: Focus on these two facts: 1) You don't have to accept the slump you are in. 2) It is possible for you to find satisfaction . . . in the job you have right now.

The first step is to choose your mood. Reframing a "bad" situation—finding the silver lining in something negative—can complete change your outlook and increase your satisfaction at work.

Use improved perspective to get in touch with your passions. Your passions never really go away. While they may be a little rusty, the things that feed your soul and stir your heart are still within you.

Following your passions allows you to engage. The cure for exhaustion is not rest. It's involvement. When you are truly absorbed in something, you feel energized. The connections you feel from participation create the drive you need to perform your absolute best.

How can we improve our daily experience of work?

Continue reframing the situation and connect with people. Much of the reason why we do our jobs is to serve other people. Understanding how you impact the lives of people around you—both inside and outside the workplace—can increase your satisfaction.

Manage your supervisor. Be one step ahead. Always have a good strategy in place to address resistance from your supervisor. Build a mutually beneficial relationship.

Clarify job requirements because knowing what is expected of you is key to feeling good about your job. Request clear expectations, advocate for needed education and training, and ask for frequent reviews.

Tweak your job to your natural preferences. When requirements are clear, determine how to align your natural preferences with the structure of your job. Identifying what is and is not working for you, helps you rebuild your job into one that better suits you.

What is the antidote to complacency?

Investing in yourself by allocating a specific amount of time toward education and self-improvement to increase your specific job skills and knowledge about your industry. As you gain the education and knowledge necessary to excel in your job, your fulfillment and enjoyment will increase.

Challenging yourself. Don't wait for your employer to engage your interests, skills, and education. What skills and experience do you need for your dream job, and how could you improve them? Take a class, find a mentor, or educate yourself through books, CDs, podcasts, and seminars.

Which aspect of job satisfaction is often overlooked?

Making time for life beyond work. Paying attention to both your work life and your home life is integral to increasing job satisfaction. If you find that you're working more and playing less, chances are you'll also notice your enthusiasm and motivation—and eventually your performance— decrease.

Parting thoughts?

There are no quick fixes. You'll have to take responsibility for your own situation, and you'll have to make a serious commitment to your job and career growth. But your efforts will be rewarded.

Marshall Brown is a certified career coach, executive coach and personal brand strategist with a passion for helping people find ways to live more fulfilling lives. Marshall also blogs for the Washington Post about working to succeed; read him on "The Career Coach is In" http://views.washingtonpost.com/on-success/career-coach/ or visit www.mbrownassociates.com.

Editor's note: this series originally published in the DC/SLA chapter newsletter Chapter Notes.