I just finished reading an article about How Adults Achieve Happiness on Businessweek’s site. It’s based on a study done by Marshall and Kelly Goldsmith to determine what gives short-term satisfaction (happiness) and long-term benefit (meaning)—both at work and away from it.
One of the questions rating satisfaction level at work hit home. It turns out that satisfaction at work depends on two things occuring in conjunction:
- Working on challenging and stimulating tasks
- Working on tasks that had a meaningful purpose
One without the other just doesn’t satisfy. As I look back on past work that was the most satisfying for me, I completely agree. Challenging and stimulating work that I performed that had fictitious or constantly shifting objectives left a lot to be desired. Both are needed in order to convey accomplishment.
So what can companies and employees do to increase satisfaction at work? Take a look at the article to finds out, but here are a few recommendations to increase happiness and meaning drawn from the survey results:
- Reduce TV watching. It’s stimulating but doesn’t increase overall satisfaction with life—at work or home.
- Cut back on surfing the Web for non-professional reasons. It’s negatively correlated with the experience of both happiness and meaning.
- Do as few chores as you can (whatever that word means to you).
- Spend time exercising and with people you love (respondents who did this had more satisfaction with life at work and at home).
- Feeling challenged is linked to greater satisfaction, so challenge yourself.
I like the “stay away from chores” suggestion and will try to be conscious about the others too.