Hey all your WIMBAs out there. Thanks for tuning in to another edition of the Women in Medicine Badass Radioshow. By now, you probably already know that I specialize in helping women in medicine who struggle with burnout live a more focused, fun, and fulfilled life. And part of that journey is getting them to a place where they experience job satisfaction. You might also know that I authored the Amazon bestselling book, The 7E Solution to Burnout. So today we’re going to take a snapshot of some of the ideas from this book as they relate to job satisfaction. And in fact, as I scanned the book, this came up in a surprising number of places so I compiled them together and came up with 10 tips on how to achieve this. Here they are:
Tip #1: Find your autonomy at work
Self-Determination Theory (SDT) states that autonomy is an innate psychological need that, when satisfied, allows the person to function more optimally. When we are given the freedom to act in harmony with our needs, we feel more in control, more respected, and more motivated. When working autonomously under stress, we cope more adaptively because we feel like we have more choice in how and when to respond.
When we feel most out of control within, we focus on controlling the world without. Low control leads to lower levels of satisfaction and inner reward, which leads workers to demand more external rewards, including higher pay. And regardless of the truth of your situation, your perception of control is what matters. When you feel you have control, you feel less stressed and more capable of making good decisions.
Tip #2: Consider best fit
While demands and control are both stress-related factors, it is the interaction between them that can lead to burnout. This interaction is the Job Demands-Control Model.
High strain jobs are those where demands are high and autonomy is low. While these types of jobs may suit a person who is motivated by challenges, it can still lead that person to work at a frenetic pace and subsequently feel exhausted.
Low strain jobs are at the opposite end of the spectrum with low demands and high autonomy. This may be the product of leadership that empowers workers to participate in decision-making and to take ownership of tasks. Aspects of this may be ideal, especially if there is a sense of community and a culture of teamwork that make workers feel supported and significant. However, these types of jobs may also lack the necessary level of challenge for growth and result in dissatisfaction over time.
Active jobs contain high demands and high autonomy. When you get to call the shots, you have less fear of change and are more likely to take risks. You just need to remain flexible in finding solutions to obstacles as they arise.
Passive jobs are ones where both demands and control are low. Under such circumstances, you are less likely to find purpose or satisfaction in your work. This is usually the case in big bureaucracies that have workers follow an antiquated procedure. You do not feel strained by your work necessarily, but the lack of autonomy coupled with the lack of purpose may make work feel like just a way of getting your bills paid. The lack of challenge can, once again, lead to disengagement and boredom.
Tip #3: Let go of perfectionism
Ambitious people often work very hard to attain their goals. They have an inner drive to prove themselves, to succeed, and to be recognized for their accomplishments. Many of them set the bar very high and will not settle for mediocrity. Even when everyone around them believes their work is exceptional, the high aimers may still not feel satisfied. That is indicative of a perfectionistic mindset.
Perfectionism takes up tremendous time and energy. While, in some instances, it can lead to increased performance, the satisfaction is transient. Perfectionists are not typically satisfied because they always expect more from themselves. Even when they attain the desired result, they dwell on ways to improve or run ahead to the next challenge rather than take time to celebrate their win.
By incorporating self-compassion, reframing failures, and giving yourself credit for trying even when what you tried did not come out as well as you would have liked, you can overcome perfectionism and engage in your work in a way that allows you to stay in the game long-term and feel satisfied.
Tip #4: Create social connection with your colleagues
In a 2016 survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, researcher Emma Seppaia and professor Marissa King found a significant correlation between work exhaustion and loneliness. When you are more focused on production than connection, your work can quickly drain you and leave you feeling lonely. Conversely, when you have social support at work, burnout rates decline as work satisfaction and productivity rates rise.
Tip #5: Focus on joy in the here-and-now
As you get caught up in the rat race, you often forget to slow down and enjoy the journey. You might seek happiness in the form of accumulating material possessions, but find this unsatisfying. You need to focus on finding satisfaction in what is in front of you rather than always living for tomorrow. Don’t put your happiness on hold. Find joy in every moment.
Consider this quote from Lily Tomlin, “The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”
Tip #6: Shift Your Limiting Beliefs
So, why not pursue more happiness? For many, it boils down to the belief, “I don’t deserve it.” Maybe you believe that you are not worthy, that you are “bad,” or are unaware of your true value.
In that case, work to shift those limiting beliefs. A great way to do that is with brain priming. You can learn more about this method in my book, How to Train Your Brain for Success in 5 Steps. I’ll leave the link to the free download in the show notes.
Tip #7: Develop Psychological Capital
Mindset plays a big part in mitigating stress. Personal resources, also known as Psychological Capital, describe the within-person capacities, or the four pillars: hope, efficacy, resilience, and optimism (HERO). These pillars correspond with increased life and job satisfaction, and by focusing on them, you can augment your personal resources. Having Psychological Capital can help you feel confident to take on challenges, persevere, and bounce back. Developing even a single one of these pillars will likely increase the other three.
Tip #8: Be flexible and adaptable
There are many benefits to being optimistic. For one, optimists vary their coping methods.You can view circumstances from various angles, and the perspective on which you focus will largely determine how you are affected. Optimists tend to focus on the more positive aspects and avoid dwelling on problems. Being optimistic allows you to find meaning in negative events, stretch yourself, and therefore adjust better to adversity. This does not mean that you are oblivious or in denial. Researchers have found that optimists are more knowledgeable about their health conditions and mindful of how to live a healthy lifestyle. Pessimists tend to experience more depression, anxiety, and stress than their counterparts. It seems that the optimist’s fluidity of thought and adaptability in behavior lead to greater satisfaction, self-esteem, and psychological well-being. The good news is that optimism, like many of the skills mentioned in The 7E Solution to Burnout book, can be developed.
Tip #9: Focus on gratitude
Research has shown that people who take the time to reflect on and write about the good things in their life were not only more optimistic, they felt happier and more satisfied.
As an aside, when you purchase The 7E Solution to Burnout, you also get a bunch of digital resources, two of which are a gratitude template and a guided loving-kindness meditation. Both of these can help you cultivate more gratitude into your life.
Tip #10: Adopt a growth mindset
The more you believe in yourself, the more you will embrace challenges and adaptively cope with them. The more trials you endure, the more resilient you will become. Your growth mindset will lead to continued opportunities and greater satisfaction. Furthermore, you will establish stronger social connections, improve your wellbeing, and you will appreciate life more.
And here’s the bonus tip:
Tip #11: Be selfless
In a recent study, researchers examined how kindness relates to goal attainment. Because altruistic kindness is associated with intrinsic rewards and the emotional part of the brain, when participants gave altruistically without any external reward, they reaped the benefit of their action immediately. Their prize was intrinsic satisfaction. When participants exercised strategic kindness, there was a delay in incentive because this type of kindness correlates with extrinsic rewards. In other words, even when you are giving, if you are focused on what you will get in return, you will have to wait and see whether your actions get reciprocated, or your reputation improves. But when you are selfless (or what these researchers referred to as “prosocial”), you end up with a greater reward because goal attainment starts immediately.
So there you have it, 10 tips on increasing job satisfaction and one bonus tip just to overdeliver. I hope this has given you some food for thought. Consider what you’ll focus on of these tips in order to cultivate more satisfaction in your work and be sure to leave me a review letting me know what you found valuable.
Thanks again for being here. I’ll see you next week.