A recent interview in Bloomberg Businessweek with Jim Harter, Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Well-Being at Gallup, reported that “in the U.S only 30 percent of people are engaged at work. There’s another 52 percent that are what we’d call not engaged, who do the minimum required but don’t really go above and beyond. And then there’s another 18 percent that are actively disengaged, and these are the people that are working against the organization’s objectives. The global numbers are a lot worse.”
If we assume that the terms “fulfillment” and “engagement” are somewhat interchangeable (I would argue you could be engaged but not fulfilled which would imply that even less than 30 percent of people are fulfilled), then you’re more likely to correctly guess a coin toss than you are to be fulfilled at work. With these odds you could reasonably decide that the hard work required to figure out fulfillment in your work life wasn’t worth it. This would be a choice of convenience and of great consequence.
Research has shown that there’s a circular relationship between job satisfaction and life satisfaction – each promotes the other. If we give up on figuring out fulfillment in our work life, there’s a significant chance we’re giving up fulfillment we would otherwise experience in our life outside of work. And vice versa. Compartmentalizing our work and life is a futile strategy that we engage in to deceive ourselves into believing we may fully relish one without relishing the other.
Finding fulfilling work is a challenge requiring self-reflection and a commitment to giving when we’re unsure if we will receive, as does nurturing a marriage, raising children, and caring for aging parents. But if we don’t make the effort, chances are we’re giving up some happiness in all the things we think matter most.