How to Find Fulfillment When Your Company Doesn’t Give a Sh*t

Let’s face it, at the end of the day, your company doesn’t care if you are happy or not. Companies and organizations simply aren’t built that way. They are built to return profit to their shareholders or owners, not to make you feel good. That’s why finding happiness and fulfillment at work is so hard: It’s up to you to build a great career that you love.

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Over the last decade, a fascinating trend has been occurring: More and more young professionals are leaving lucrative positions in search of jobs with more meaning and purpose.

Based on a recent Gallop poll of the Millennial generation (currently 18-35 years old), young professionals “want a job that fuels their sense of purpose and a manager who shows them how their efforts advance the company’s mission.”

Simply put, we want to work for companies where we know our contribution is making an impact.

And if you aren’t in a place where you can directly see that, you are more likely to up and leave.

While companies are making shifts in their benefits programs and work structures, there is still a perceived notion that making your life fulfilling is up to the company.

And even though there are some great companies out there promoting employee wellness and cultural inclusion, companies can’t do everything for you.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to use these jobs as a way to create fulfillment for yourself.

Lean Into Your Relationships

One of the easiest – and quickest – ways to start bringing more fulfillment into your work is to lean into your relationships.

Humans are meant to share experiences with one another, and building key relationships at work is crucial to being happier and more productive.

Obviously relationships are important, yet we tend to avoid putting enough time and effort into them because, well, it’s hard.

Ken Blanchard, a management expert, talks about how tough building relationships is:

“Building collaborative work relationships is a challenge for many people. Relationship building is generally not taught in schools and it’s rarely taught to those who join the managerial ranks. There is a big problem with that.”

And it’s not helping that our workplaces are shifting to more digital and remote based work, which makes relationship building even tougher.

The good news is that when you start to improve your relationships at work, you can dramatically increase your happiness and fulfillment.

Carly Stec (@CarlyStec), editor of HubSpot’s marketing blog, wrote a great article where she shares thirteen ways you can do exactly that.

One of my favorite ideas that she mentions is to create traditions with your coworkers or teammates. Traditions like “Taco Tuesday” can help bring everyone together for something lighthearted, where you are able to interact on a more social level and get to know each other outside of the strictly work-related context.

And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love tacos?

Focus on what you can control

The second thing you can do to bring more fulfillment into your work is to focus on what you can (and cannot) control.

The truth is, when we rely on a company (or anyone else for that matter) to bring us happiness or fulfillment, we will never find it.

Yet when I bring on a new coaching client. I often notice that their focus is on what the company isn’t doing for them: They aren’t getting paid what they are worth, they have an awful boss, or they are simply not happy with the type of work they are doing.

So the first thing I will do, before anything else, is to ask: Are you truthfully doing everything you can to improve on what you can control?

You see, there are several layers of things you can control and the better you understand each, the easier it will be for you to find that missing piece that you need to feel fulfilled. This is best illustrated by the Circle of Control.

The Circle of Control has 3 different layers:

  1. What is outside of your control

  2. What you can influence

  3. What you can control

For example:

  • You can’t control whether or not your boss is rude to you, but you can control how you respond to it.
  • You can’t control your pay structure, but you can control your results.
  • You can’t control the market, but you can control how you communicate your value.
  • You can’t control whether or not your boss promotes you, but you can influence their decision.

The APE Test

Growing up, I used to watch a lot of “manly” TV shows with my dad. We would lie on the bed and watch reruns of shows like Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, and Home Improvement.

One of my favorite shows came out right as I started high school was Dirty Jobs, hosted by Mike Rowe.

I loved it because Mike got into some incredibly disgusting situations (like when he stuck his entire arm up a cow’s rear-end to be a cow midwife or when he went into the sewers to become a sewer inspector). But he still made the best out of everything.

These people showcased on Dirty Jobs had some of the shittiest jobs (literally) but were still able to find extreme happiness and fulfillment in them. And the key to doing that lay in understanding what was in their power to change.

“Personally, I don’t think there is such a thing as a good job or a bad job. Part of this country’s problem right now is that people approach work this way. To be happy, you think you have to get one of the good jobs, and the minute you start operating with that assumption, you’ve just narrowed your possibilities for happiness by a lot. That’s really the big lesson.” – Mike Rowe

One of the ways I recommend reassessing your focus is to take what I call the APE Test. You can use this to check on yourself and see if you are really focusing on what you can control.

Attitude

Am I being positive? Am I overreacting? Am I looking for the negative in everything?

Personal Growth

Am I getting better at my role? Am I challenging myself? (not is the company challenging me)

Emotions

How is my emotional state? Am I in control and regulating my emotions?

(A great resource for building higher levels of emotional awareness is the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry.)

Redesign your career

If you’ve done the two steps above and still aren’t finding fulfillment in your job, then it’s time to take a step back and completely redesign your career.

This step has to be your last resort, though. Too often, people get so easily frustrated with their employer that they blindly jump ship to another company where things could be just as bad, if not worse.

But the only constant from one job to another is you, and this means that you have to work on yourself first.

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And I don’t mean just tweaking your resume and calling it a day. This is about digging deep into what you truly want and building a career around what really makes you come alive.

When I was in a place where I felt completely lost in my career, I had no idea how to turn it all around. I didn’t know where to start or what to do to escape the suffocating situation I was in.

After a lot of trial and error (and a lot of digging), I eventually discovered a way to redesign my career and find the fulfillment I’ve always been looking for. And all of that without the stress, overwhelm, and frustration that usually goes along with it.

If you’ve struggled with any of this, you probably already know how hard it is to make such a life-changing decision. And without the right guidance or a roadmap of some sort that you can follow, it can get even harder.

This is precisely why I created the Success Toolkit: to help people like you redesign their careers with all the resources I wish I had early on.

In this completely free toolkit, you will discover:

  • exactly what success means to you how to create – and actually stick to – positive habits
  • a comprehensive weekly action planning guide to implement your new career strategy
  • the top personal development tools you need to be consuming every day for optimal growth
  • and more

If you have honestly done your best with the previous  two steps, then the Success Toolkit can be invaluable to you. Just tell me where to send it, and it’s all yours – completely free.

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YOU Need to Give a Sh*t

Finding happiness at work takes effort.

Even if you work in the most forward-thinking startup in the world, it will still take effort to find and build your happiness.

The famous motivational speaker, Les Brown, sums this up perfectly in one of my favorite quotes:

“Life is hard for those who do what is easy. Life is easy for those who do what is hard.”

Being happy at work will be hard, but the effort you put in will make your life easier. If you just sit back and let life happen to you, it will inevitably be much harder for you.

If you are unhappy, if you aren’t fulfilled, if you aren’t in the right work environment, start to give a sh*t.

Don’t just read this blog post and move on with your life. Take action and fundamentally change your approach to work starting right now. Only then will you begin to change your results and find that fulfillment you are searching for.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.