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Job Satisfaction: Fake it ’til You Feel it?

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

It seems we’ve reached a point where, ‘in order to [do a job], employees must be fully self-actualized,’ which makes Faking Enthusiasm is the Latest Job Requirement.  That may sound as bleak as a North American winter if you want to do what you love and love what you do.  What I think this realization does is remind us of the true cost of doing business so that we can make the best decision for ourselves and our careers.  If you intentionally calculated the emotional labor of your last job (or your current one), would you have still taken it?  What would you do differently if you considered emotional labor in the next career-related decision?

I realized emotional labor mattered when I went through a life redirection, that’s why I included it as a stage of career management for our life span.  This is not a crisis but a realization that it isn’t just about the money but about the emotional baggage we must pack or carry as part of the experience we’re hired to create.  Career management, to me, is not just about getting a better job.  Sometimes it’s about recognizing what we’re willing to put up with so that we can decide if where we are is where we want to be right now.  Sometimes it’s about having clearer expectations about what a job can do for us, and matching what we ask for to what can realistically be delivered.

woman with windblown hair, eyes closed, fulfilled look on her face. Photo by Eli DeFaria on Unsplash

My perspective has changed in the last couple of years as I’ve read Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plokin.  He notes that our soulwork, “the gifts we bring into the world,” is not necessarily the same as a job title.  This let me know that I may have two jobs:  one that pays the bills and another that expresses who I am.  What was an important revelation was that the pay and the satisfaction did not necessarily come from one source.

Another way to look at is that job searches are a lot like dating and jobs are a lot like committed relationships.  When I recently talked to a husband who was celebrating a marriage milestone, I asked him what the secret was.  He said the secret to longevity was forgiveness of himself for not always being what he wanted and forgiveness of the other person for not being his everything.

If you considered the emotional labor associated with your job or your next career-related decision what would you do differently?  If the work that fulfilled you and the work that paid your bills didn’t have to be the job, how would you approach the next week?

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