What Does Your Job Mean to You?

Dear Neil: Could you offer any guidance or assistance about how to evaluate my job and my career? I’m a computer software engineer. I’m paid moderately well and have good job security, but I’m not feeling all that fulfilled and/or satisfied with what I’m doing. How do I evaluate my job/career?

Struggling in Longmont, Colorado

Dear Struggling: Here’s a list of questions to help you evaluate your job, adapted from John Gottman’s book The Relationship Cure (Crown). It will help you to think things out more completely if you write your answers down and are as thorough as possible:

What does your job mean to you? What does it mean to you to provide your service or product?

  • What qualities go into creating a good working environment? Does your current job environment feel like a good working environment? If not, what work place conditions, if changed or altered, would make the most difference to you?
  •  What does it mean to you to be part of a team? What are the costs and benefits of knowing that others rely on you to do your job well?
  • Are there things you’d like to change about the way you and your co-workers relate to one another? What changes would you like to make?
  • What role does ethics play in your job? What does it mean to do your job in an ethical way? What does it mean to treat your company/ co-workers/customers/clients ethically? Where do you find it difficult to operate with complete ethics on the job?
  • What do you like about what you do? What do you dislike?
  • What’s the most important thing you’d like to accomplish in your current job?
  • What are your future career goals?
  • Do your job relationships affect your ability to achieve those goals?
  • How important is it to be compensated fairly for the job you do?
  • How important to you is recognition? How do you like to be recognized and appreciated for a job well done? How would you like your boss, co-workers and/or clients to show that appreciation? How would you like for your co-workers and/or clients to show that appreciation?
  • Do you feel proficient and/or competent in what you do? In which areas would you like to increase your skills and competence?
  • How is your job performance evaluated? How is that evaluation communicated to you? What do you like or not like about this process?
  • How important is it to find balance amid the demands of work, friends, family and your other interests?
  • Imaging leaving your current job to retire or to take another position. What would you like your boss and co-workers to say about you at your going-away party? What changes would you have to make in order for that to happen?
  • What do you get from your job that brings meaning to your life? What is the deeper meaning of your work—to yourself and to others?

More and more people are looking for personal fulfillment in their lives beyond status and a paycheck. It is hard to feel develop deep job fulfillment unless you feel that your work is personally meaningful and serves a higher good.

The last I read on this subject, the average person in our culture changes careers four different times in the course of their lives. By the way, I’m in my fourth profession myself.

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