The Reason YOU Are Unfulfilled At Work AND Home

Not many people are happy with their jobs.

The jobs I’ve worked in the past usually make it on the “Top ten worst jobs” lists.

I’ve worked filling stock at a discount grocery store, bussing tables at restaurants, and the holy grail of all terrible jobs: Door to door and telemarketing sales.

Even though this seems like a recipe for a depressing life, I’ve always enjoyed my work and derived great meaning from it.

Most people work jobs that don’t fulfill them, then at home they laze around until the next shift—which isn’t very fulfilling either.

So why are we leading lives that have left us so unfulfilled?

We’ve Completely Separated Work And Play.

We’re not having any fun at work, and we’re not seeking any challenge at home.

One thing I’ve learned throughout my study of happiness is that finding meaning or purpose in your daily activities is an absolutely necessary ingredient for a long lasting sense of fulfillment.

If you don’t derive meaning from your work, and your free time is devoid of any effort or challenge, then you may be on your way to a crisis.

Finding Meaning At Crappy Jobs.

I’ve always enjoyed myself at work because I didn’t see my job as meaningless. I tried to somehow fit my work into the bigger picture or gain whatever meaning I could from those menial tasks.

When I was doing door to door I worked with a lot of miserable people. They only saw the negatives.

“It’s so hot out and we’ve been walking for hours!”
“There is too much pressure, if I don’t get commission my cheques are so small!”
“We have to work every Saturday and I never go out anymore!”

Don’t get me wrong, those points are valid. The job sucked sometimes.

But I chose to focus on something different. I would focus on my interactions with the people I was talking to. Every time someone opened a door I saw it as an opportunity to share a connection with someone new.

We joked, we laughed, we complimented each other, we even ended up talking about life over tea.

You would seriously be surprised how many people invited me into their homes and shared a real connection with me once I stopped focusing on the negatives, and started to find the meaning in my work.

Crafting Your Job To Cultivate Fulfillment.

Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski has done a lot of research into figuring out how people derive meaning from their work. She found that you can become happier with your job whether you are a CEO, a sales rep, or even a janitor at a hospital through what she calls “job crafting.”

In one study she observed a group of hospital cleaners who found their jobs boring and meaningless, and another that found their work to be engaging and fulfilling.

The second group would ‘craft’ their job in creative ways. They would engage more with nurses, patients and doctors, taking it upon themselves to uplift the mood of the people around them.

In general, the second group crafted a perception of their job that saw themselves as an indispensable cog in a well oiled machine. They weren’t just cleaning garbage, they were helping their hospitals run smoothly and contributing to a cause that saved lives.

In this mindset, these hospital janitors could find more fulfillment in their jobs than some of the doctors who might just be looking for a paycheque.

But finding fulfillment at work is only one half of the problem. We have to find fulfillment at home as well.

All Play And No Work Makes Jack An Unfulfilled Boy.

After a long day at work it is understandable that we want to relax, but it is possible to relax too much.

When we separate work from play, avoiding all effort and challenge in our free time, we are robbing ourselves of a fulfilling personal life.

In the book “Happier” by Tal Ben Shahar, Ph.D. he examines many interesting studies that look into the relationship between challenge, happiness and fulfillment.

One study in particular run by Donald Hebb jumped out at me.

In 1930 six hundred students between the ages of six and fifteen were told that they no longer needed to do any school work. If they misbehaved, their punishment was more recess. If they behaved, their reward was more schoolwork.

Hebb quickly discovered that “In these circumstances, all of the pupils discovered within a day or two that, within limits, they preferred work to no work (and incidentally learned more arithmetic and so forth than in previous years).”

Even children—who are notoriously opposed to work and love to play—realize very quickly that they would not enjoy a life devoid of challenge.

Without challenge we don’t grow, without growth we feel stuck.

Challenging Yourself At Home.

If you’re job isn’t providing you with the growth and challenge that you need for long term happiness, you have to find it at home.

That is why I learned drums, why I study self development and write these articles.

The good thing about challenging yourself in your free time is that you get to do everything on your terms.

You can pick something that you truly enjoy, even if it is just playing video games. Just be sure that you are challenging yourself, learning, and gaining some sense of meaning and fulfillment from your activities.

Breaking down the barrier between work and play is the key to fulfillment. When you are at work, have fun with with it, share connections and find meaning. When you are at home don’t just relax all the time, challenge yourself and learn something new.

It’s a challenge in itself to break down this deep rooted barrier, but if we can accomplish this, we can lead truly fulfilling lives at work and at home.

fulfillHow do you view your job to gain fulfillment?
How do you challenge yourself in your free time?
Discuss in the comments!

15 thoughts on “The Reason YOU Are Unfulfilled At Work AND Home

  1. You wake up each morning dreading the day ahead. Traffic jams, stale coffee, and a boss who’s lost sight of the big picture. You want more than fluorescent lights, superficial meetings, and inauthentic connections.

    Maybe you want to walk away from your 9-5 and become a health coach. Maybe you want become a yoga instructor in Belize, start an Etsy shop showcasing your passion for knitting, or write full time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Some jobs can be very stressful, the pressure of working in sales got to me once or twice. It’s good that you can step out of the pressure and force yourself to relax instead of getting carried away in the emotions.

      Those are very good ways to add some challenge and fulfillment in your free time. I’ve always wanted to learn how to play violin, and overcoming your fears is probably the best challenge anyone can partake in. Thanks for sharing!


  2. I’ve loved every job I ever had except teaching High School English. I must have been out of my mind when I chose that. I knew I was in the wrong place when I told a mother in a teacher’s conference that “the little bastard is driving me crazy!” I was happy to go back to my job working on septic systems after that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If I didn’t remind myself how lucky I am to have the job I have and work for the people that I do, I would be miserable. Good tips, I need to work on the “fulfillment at home” part of all this, but baby steps. Nice work, as always, Steven.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The fulfillment at home portion is usually the part that is left unattended unfortunately. It can be really hard since after a long day of work we have very little willpower left in the tank. Thank you for giving this a read and commenting, it means a lot. 🙂


  4. Interesting study about the school children. However the concept does make a lot of sense. Its like when people say even if you become a millionaire young, you will soon realise that you won’t want to stop working and spend the rest of your life on a beach. You will want to get up and do something. Alan watts covers this in a talk. If I can remember which one I will post the link. Thanks for the follow, first post I saw. Good stuff. SeeYouIn5


  5. Your article is so inspirational! Even if I’m just a student yet, I can relate with it. Actually reading your article is a great timing. We don’t do anything in school anymore – no homework and no class lectures. It’s because our final exam is already done and we just need to practice for our High School graduation. It’s getting boring because there’s also a lot of free time and not having to do at home makes me a bit crazy.

    I used to complain about our school giving us so much work to do. But I realized that not doing anything challenging feels worse than doing a lot of things. Even my friend prefers work.

    Oh well, I learned that during free time, I should not only relax. I should also challenge myself by doing the things that I’m passionate about. Recently I’ve been playing the guitar and piano and it’s so fulfilling.

    Thank you for your post.


  6. Great ideas on interweaving work and play. Taking on challenges outside of work is probably the most salient thing for me in this post. If work does not engage the mind as I’d have hoped, then I can do that outside of work on my own. There’s freedom in that.


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