What is your job satisfaction level?
We all need to work to make money, and we all hope to be doing a job that we enjoy, that helps us grow, that we wake up to with joy.
Have you ever wondered how satisfied you are with your job? Take this short quiz below to see your job satisfaction level.
I recently tramed up with Kossie.co.uk to explain to you what your feelings around your job mean, and how you can help yourself out of a situation if you’re in a bad one.
Here’s the quiz:
Answer the following job satisfaction statements as best you can with an emotion. Then, match that emotion with one that best fits with my guidance below.
- On Sunday evenings before work I feel…
- Before a big meeting when I’ve had to prepare something to share I feel…
- When I talk to people outside my company I feel…
- When I think about my future in my company / industry I feel…
- My boss makes me feel…
- The first emotion I feel when I think about my job is…
It is natural to feel fear around your job from time to time. When we are faced with something new or unfamiliar the brain doesn’t like it. It likes what is familiar. We are, as a species, designed for survival and so the emotional part of your brain (The Limbic Amidala) alerts you to danger. It takes over as the custodian of our survival (pushing aside emotions and memory) when it perceives a threat and this can be as simple as something new or someone cutting you up in traffic or your boss speaking to you harshly. It then triggers one of three responses:
Clearly, you often can’t take flight or fight it out or hide under your desk when your boss has asked you to do something new but your brain will trigger that response in you and your body will flood with cortisol making your heart beat faster and your focus narrow down. When this got you ready to run away from or fight a mammoth it was brilliant. At work, not so much. You are instead left feeling very uncomfortable in a physical sense, unable to go anywhere and so the feeling becomes more overwhelming and the perceived fear intensifies.
The way to counter this is to breathe.
Breathing helps to stimulate and strengthen the parasympathetic nervous system that relaxes the body and inhibits high energy functions such as ‘Fight or Flight’ that flood the body with cortisol and trigger the sympathetic nervous system. I am a fan of Square Breathing. You close your eyes and relax, then in your mind’s eye, you draw an imaginary square: breathing in for four counts (drawing one side); holding for four counts (drawing the second side); breathing out for four counts (the third side) and then holding for four (to complete the square). Repeat 5 – 10 times to calm down and relax.
Anxiety and worry
When you get stuck in a pattern of fear it can create feelings of anxiety or worry. Anxiety is a form of fear, best described as a nagging or persistent fear that turns your thoughts to worries about things that may or may not happen in the future (rather than a temporary feeling of fear that is focused on something that is happening right now).
The feelings that anxiety or worry can create in you are similar to fear. It is like your body and mind is on overdrive so you tend to feel unwell or out of control with a fast heartbeat, shallow and quick breathing and a churning tummy and even loose bowels. It can also suppress your appetite and make you sweat or feel light headed or weak. Your mouth may get dry and a combination of any of these symptoms over time can make you quite unwell and also lose your self-confidence or love of life.
Clearly if your overriding emotion about going to work each day is anxiety or worry (and this probably also keeps you awake at night) then you must do something about it.
“Talking about your feelings of anxiety can also help.”
Again, in the immediate situation calm yourself with square breathing or remove yourself from the physical situation. Go outside and just walk around the block if that is all that time or circumstances allow. Better still, go to a park and perhaps just sit and read a book to take your mind away from the whirligig of worrying and negative thoughts. In fact, in an anxiety inducing workplace, make time to do this every day. If the weather doesn’t allow this, then why not try a lunchtime exercise class? Or how about one immediately after you finish your day? The timing of it will help you to also create boundaries and leave the office at a decent time.
Talking about your feelings of anxiety can also help. If you have a trusted colleague or line manager or HR support then it can really help to talk about how you are feeling and have someone help you to put those worries into context. If they help you recognise that your workload is too much to cope with, then a plan of action to share it or chunk it down can help enormously. Often overwhelm and a messy desk and crowded in-box can also make you feel worse so putting some time aside to declutter is time well spent.
If you can’t speak with anyone at work, make sure that you do find someone at home or an external professional who will listen to you. You may be able to access help via your workplace if there is an Employee Assistance Programme or similar HR service available. It is not a sign of weakness to get this help. It is a sign of strength and good self-care.
When you feel like your thoughts are derailing you despite your best efforts to change then you may need to consider a deeper therapy such as Clinical Hypnotherapy to identify the root cause of your beliefs and feelings. CBT is also very helpful.
Watch your wellbeing at times of anxiety or high stress. Make sure you get enough quality sleep. This means switching off from blue-light devices (TV and computer etc) at least an hour before you plan to sleep, minimising your bedroom of electronics, making it dark and at a cool temperature and reading or meditating to switch the brain waves to ones that are receptive to sleep. Don’t drink caffeinated drinks after lunch time and stop alcohol intake for three hours before sleeping. If you are very stressed try to avoid alcohol and caffeine all together.
Eat as well as possible with fresh fruits and vegetables and organic meat and ‘wild’ fish. Avoid dairy, sugar, trans fats (in pretty much all biscuits and shop bought cakes) and processed foods. Essential fatty acids are, yes you guessed it, essential. Especially for the brain and good cognitive thinking. They are found in things like avocados, nuts and oily fish.
Make sure you take time off. Make the weekends ‘social media switch off’ zones and spend time with the people you love doing the things you love. Take your holidays and have as strict a policy as possible about not being in touch with the office.
If you are experiencing excitement, then that is good but the body can often process it in the same way as fear so aim to stay calm and grounded so as not to let the excitement get the better of you. Think about being on a rollercoaster ride. The feelings, as you scream on the way down, are the same as fear but we engage in such rides for fun and call it excitement. When you get off the ride, your heart will be beating faster, your legs may even feel weak, you will have screamed or probably have a dry mouth.
So, enjoy the rush of excitement and then square breathe to control it.
You want to stay in control of your emotions and actions and enjoy them rather than be ruled by them. A good internal dialogue can help here. Perhaps say something to yourself like: “I’m loving this excitement, I’m riding it like a roller coaster and I’m going to stay safe and be grounded, keep my observations around me and ride this emotion rather than it ride me”.
Turning up to work with determination is a great asset.
Determination can be regarded as both having the tenacity or grit to keep going plus the focus to go in the right direction to achieve the right outcome. People who are regarded as a success usually have determination in by the shovelful. They stay focused in a number of ways and invariably show the ability to delay gratification and get straight on with the things they don’t want to do or that are obstacles. That way they don’t have the ‘worry’ of those things hanging over them. Ever handed in your notice or had to fire someone? You probably felt terrible while it was hanging over you and once done felt so relieved, didn’t you?
Determined people just get on and do the things that need to be done. They come back from failure and regard it as a learning experience that will help their future actions. I used to have a sign at the side of my desk in my PR days that said: “I’ve learned so much from my mistakes that I think I’ll make another”. I didn’t go out of my way to screw-up but when things went wrong, as often they do, I got on with putting it right and then looked back on what I had learned afterwards.
You can be determined about good things. Be determined to be lucky for example as luck is where preparation meets opportunity. Be determined to remember that everything is in your control and if things are not then they are not worth worrying about. There is not an unlimited supply of mental strength (just as your actual muscle strength is not limitless) so don’t tire it out on things you can’t change.
Being optimistic is such a positive quality in life. At work it can really help to underpin your mood and the way you regard things. We have a filter in our brain called the RAS (Reticular Activating System). It stops our brains from being overloaded with too much information in the same way as you would avoid downloading ten massive downloads on a computer at the same time as it will crash.
Over time the RAS takes what you focus on and hones in on it naturally. It’s highly effective.
That is why when you buy those unusual pair of blue shoes you suddenly notice blue shoes everywhere.
Cultivating optimism will allow you to look more positively on situations. The caveat is that you need to remember that positive thinking is not delusional thinking. If you are looking at a work disaster and just saying: ‘It’s all OK’, then that may actually stop you from kicking into the problem-solving mindset that you need to fix it. What you need is not ‘positive’ but ‘accurate’ thinking that is overlaid with optimism and a belief that all can be good or resolved with the right attention and action.
The bedfellow of optimism is gratitude.
Counting your blessings each day and finding things to be grateful about is incredibly good for your mental wellbeing.
Think about what is good about your job, your life, yourself. Even if you hate your job you can be grateful that you have the security of a wage while you look for better employment or train for something new.
Look at yourself in the mirror each morning and say out loud: I’m grateful for my …and find at least 10 things that you like about yourself. Remind yourself that you have a 100% success rate at being alive so far and that you will navigate work and life with grace and grit every day.
Where did you land on the job satisfaction scale? Get in touch and let me know!