“Is this it? Finding fulfillment at work”

I was having dinner with a client last week and in the middle of dinner, she paused, looked up over her salad and with a steely seriousness she said to me: “Is this it? Is this all there is? I just don’t feel any excitement or fulfillment at work. It feels like I am just going through the motions.” Does that sound like you? Hands down, the most frequently asked question I receive is: “how do I find fulfillment at work?” Everything from passion to meaning and purpose. We’re all looking for it.  So how about you? Are you energized with your work? Do you find meaning in what you do?  Or do you feel as though the work you do is slowly killing you with every key stroke?

This month, we will tackle this dysfunction: “Is this it? Finding fulfillment at work.” Throughout the month we’ll cover, amongst other things:

  • Passion vs. Fulfillment
  • The 5 questions to finding meaning and fulfillment in your work… and life
  • What can you do to start down the path of finding fulfillment in your work?
  • And if you are the leader, what can you do to create a workplace full of fulfillment?

Every week, I’ll kick off our conversation by addressing one of these big questions. Throughout the week I’ll collect and share stories, examples and other opinions as we dig in. By the end of the month, if we haven’t cured this dysfunction, we’ll do a darn good job treating it!

Write to me with your stories, examples or opinions on the subject. I promise to protect the innocent (and guilty!).

So, are you a poster child for fulfillment at work or are you a lost soul? What if this is as good as it gets? Never fear, help is on the way!


(Link) View more Melvin Udall Sound Clips and As Good As It Gets Sound Clips

A note from Brandon

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4 replies
  1. Rama Chandra says:

    Hi Brandon,

    I liked my past job very much and was working for almost 12-14 hrs everyday. And considering the fact that i was working in one of india’s growing bpo companies, it was greuling night shifts. but i was there for a good and happy 5 years. i had a team that i trained from the first time they walked into the office and saw them work and in the process grow. but nothing is forever, the project was given off to a different vendor and we were laid off. i did join another major firm working only in a standard 9 hr shift, no extra hours, no pressure, higher pay…. but still i dont feel like entering into the office, not that i am comparing my old team with the current one. both are equally good in their own rights. would you say i the job is not filling enough, i am not sure why…. is it my manager who has not appreciated me in the last one year even though i have done extraordinarly and was only there telling that i have done something wrong when it is he who has failed, or is it the company that fails to have such a system to ensure that people are properly rewarded and recognized for their efforts… but give or take i would take my past job with all the 14 hrs night shift over the current one.

  2. Brandon Smith says:

    You make a great point that sometimes fulfillment can come from the magic of a good team and great manager. I know from personal experience that when I’ve found myself in those situations (unfortunately not as often as I would have liked!), it is a wonderful feeling of being “up to something big” with a team of great people. Very fulfilling indeed!

    Thanks for the great comment!


  3. JT says:

    I have been working in my current job (moving up in the ranks) for about 4 years. Just recently i feel like the company is an extremely heavy weight on my shoulders. I just feel like this is not the right fit for me or maybe its just a slump. Anyway no matter the ‘why’ I have been called out by management a couple times because of my negative attitude. I think i am just one of those people who’s emotions show through body language more than i realized. Finally word got out to the CEO and he had to bring me into his office a meet with me. Basically saying that you need to display a more positive attitude or you job will be at risk. (mind you when the CEO of a company says this to you, your job is already at risk) I understand regardless if i stay at my current job or not that i need to practice displaying a more positive attitude. Sometime i feel like i am so deep into my slum that the only way out is to start over. I feel that my environment is a major factor in why i am disgruntled.
    I really want to prove that i can turn things around with out ‘giving-up’. I know i can do it, but i just was wondering if anyone had any other suggestions as to what actions i can take to improve my attitude with in a 4 week plan. I know i can’t be the only one to struggle with this so i would love to hear some similar stories. Thanks in advanced.

  4. Brandon Smith says:

    I would be curious to other’s thoughts on this great question. I would say that when I work with clients facing this very same challenge, it is more about practicing the right behaviors first in hopes that it will change something inside of them later. In other words, act as though you have a good attitude and you might one day wake up with a good attitude down the road. Some helpful tips:
    1. Smile at co-workers when you walk around (not in a creepy way… just make sure you aren’t frowning)
    2. Ask others how they are doing (you don’t have to chat long… just a simple “how are thinkgs?” goes a long way)
    3. Offter to pitch in / volunteer when your boss needs help (a simple “anything I can help you with” will go a long way as well)
    4. Give out one compliment a day (any approach counts: face-to-face, e-mail, text, etc…)

    Do these things and I promise that others will percieve you differently and word will spread. Good luck and keep us posted.

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