Career Satisfaction – Managing your career

If you counted the number of hours spent working per week, it is likely that we often spend more time devoted to work than anything else in our lives. It’s phenomenal to think that many of us spend more time with people at work than we do with our own families and friends! Of course, the changes over recent years mean that our working lives have merged with our home lives, yet there is often a heavy time focus placed on our work. 

Taking a moment to review our career satisfaction levels is something we often explore in coaching. In this blog I will share some tips to get you thinking about your own career and its direction.

Taking Stock

When was the last time you reviewed your career satisfaction levels? If you are anything like most of us, time for yourself gets deprioritised to focus on work and the team. The starting point to career satisfaction and fulfilment is to identify what makes you happy. Time can be set aside on a regular basis to do this rather than a one-off event, we often want different things out of our career at different points in our lives. External factors can mean we want to adjust our career direction.

Consider these different scenarios and how this might affect your career direction:

  • Recently been promoted
  • Recently been demoted
  • Been in a role long term
  • Been in a role short term
  • Had the same boss throughout your career
  • Experienced significant health issues
  • Bereavement
  • Bringing up a young family
  • Expecting a baby 
  • Just completed an MBA
  • Boss has just left
  • The organisation is experiencing a downturn
  • Your skillset is no longer up to date
  • Your peer has just been promoted to your boss

Taking into account your current situation is crucial. Being honest with yourself about what you really want at any given moment is the starting point. We can experience the “grass is greener” syndrome, looking around we think that others have more than us, are doing better at work, or seem to have it all. In fact, when we look underneath the grass there is often plenty of weeds to be picked, like our own – it just looks better from a distance. So be aware of assuming you must manage your career like the rest – everyone is unique, in fact some of the most “successful” people have paved their own path rather than copying someone else’s.

Career Satisfaction

In coaching sessions when I ask people to describe their career satisfaction levels it can vary significantly. When satisfaction levels are high there seems to be a mix of things at play, that may include some of the following:

  • Sufficient challenge
  • Support and encouragement
  • Work that meets the needs of the person
  • Plays to their strengths
  • Sufficiently rewarded based on the individuals’ motivators
  • Future progression possibilities
  • Ongoing dialogue with the line manager and wider organisation
  • A brand that the person can connect with
  • A sense of the work having an impact on the wider organisation or society

What would your factors be for high career satisfaction?

I would describe high career satisfaction as a feeling of being “in flow”, where the activities are so stimulating and enjoyable that the time passes and you are predominantly using the strengths that you enjoy.

Identify your Strengths

Identifying your strengths is a good starting point to career satisfaction.

Ask yourself

  1. What am I good at? Describe as fully as possible what you are good at. Be specific. For example, move from saying “I am a people person” to “I explain technical concepts well to non-technical people.”  The more specific you are about your strengths the easier it is to seek out work that plays to these. 
  2. Out of these strengths which ones do I enjoy doing? For example, I am known to be an efficient organiser. At home I organise our social diary. You may even say it is a strength of mine. However, I do not enjoy organising. I do it easily, but it is not enjoyable.

And finally consider which strengths would someone pay you for? This is the “sweet spot” – where you enjoy what you do and receive income from doing it. 

Passion and Causes

Some people want their careers to be about their true causes and passions in life. If this is you then ask yourself:

  1. If I gave you ten minutes to talk about a subject, what would it be and why?
  2. What do you feel compelled to solve or be part of in life and why?

Passions and causes may include: working with children, contributing to sustainability, inventing something, building leaders for the future.  What would you add?


People around us are often at the heart of a fulfilling career – your peers, your team, your boss and your clients. Consider:

  1. Do you thrive doing work in a team or alone?
  2. What type of people bring out the best in you?


Every organisation has a culture and micro cultures exist within each function. Consider what type of culture you thrive best in, examples may include: risk taking, traditional, fast paced, technically based, challenging and paternalistic. 

Size, Location and Product

Consider where you thrive – when I set up my own business many years ago, I recognised that I thrive in the corporate world. When I left the corporate world as an employee I re-joined it again as a freelancer. I made a choice about my target audience based on what I enjoy the most. 

Ask yourself: Where do you thrive? What types of organisations and products are you excited about? 

Feasibility and Timescales

Sometimes, I hear people give up on their career ambitions because they think they don’t have the required skills, or they’ve left it too late. Often when we devote some time to researching the facts, we can then make an informed choice on the feasibility rather than making assumptions. 

Ask yourself: For this to work out, what information do I need to find out?

And finally, I notice that unless people share their career ambitions, they often remain just that – ambitions that are not put into action. I encourage you discuss and share those ambitions, so that you can start or continue to enjoy a fulfilling career.

If you would like to work through your career, coaching can provide that much needed space to reflect and start working on it. Please get in touch to arrange a no obligation discovery call.

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