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Is this what your career needs

23 May 2022

Have you ever had that feeling of being dissatisfied with career, even when you think you shouldn't be?  For example, you might have good job stability, a great team around you, and be working on things that feel important to you, but you still feel something is missing. 

For a long time career satisfaction was thought to rest on two main pillars:

  • Having work conditions that make you feel good - i.e. enhance your happiness
  • Being able to do things that make others feel good - i.e. do meaningful things.

Recent theories in psychology have suggested there is a third pillar worth considering that may explain why some people feel their career is not what it could.  This concept is Richness.   

Richness, in the context of career, refers to the level of interest and excitement you experience while undertaking your work.  Things like the degree of variety there is in the tasks you do, how intriguing you find your work, how much you get to consider and reconsider your perspective on issues, how much novelty there is, and the quality of the change that you get to experience.  Richness leads to increased energy, curiosity, and spontaneity, and these in turn lead to a feeling of satisfaction, especially when combined with work that also brings happiness and meaningfulness. 

If you suspect Richness is something that you want to enhance in your career start by getting a baseline measure of the prevelance of Richness you already have.  For one week, at the end of the day rate (i.e. out of 10, with 1 being absent and 10 being richly present) the degree to which the following were present in the work you did:

  • Curiosity and Novelty
  • New Experiences / Variety
  • Emotions of Interest and Intrigue
  • Excitement and Courage
  • Opportunities to Reconsider Your Perspective

Use this baseline as part of your ongoing Career Maintenance, and if you want more Richness look for small ways you can start bringing each of these into your experience of work.  For example, be vulnerable in expressing an unpopular opinion in a meeting; apply for a job outside your comfort zone; reach out and connect to people outside your network; sign up to learn a skill unrelated to your job that will stretch your thinking; explore a side hustle...

Richness does not always align with immediate positive career experiences.  For example experiencing an unexpected change at work may not be comfortable, and may take you away from work you find meaningful.  It is likely to increase Richness though by bringing more variety, have you reconsider things, and experience novelty.  In the long run having the three pillars of Happiness, Meaning, and Richness present are likely to enhance your experience of career.

As always wishing you a flourishing career

Katherine

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