The other night, I fell asleep by 9 pm after eating a huge (HUGE!) bowl of Spanish rice. In my defense, it was an escape from the emotional stress of my day job.

(Carbs make me feel like I’m flying away from stress on the back of a unicorn. Wheee!)

Which is one of many reasons why I’ve begun thinking about how to increase my job satisfaction and have a better work-life balance– to feel like my job is better integrated into my life and my identity. To feel like I’m not missing out on life just because my job is demanding. To feel like I don’t need a huge bowl of Spanish rice to feel relaxed.

In my research thus far, I’ve learned the following three things:

1. You don’t need The Perfect Job, just one that has the following components:

  • a short, reliable commute
  • two or more co-workers you really like
  • work that challenges you without completely destroying you
  • supervisors who provide clear goals and unambiguous feedback
  • work that allows for a sense of control

(Thanks for the wisdom, PenelopeTrunk.com!)

Honestly, I’m relieved by this list because it means you don’t necessarily have to have The Perfect Job to be reasonably happy.

2. Job satisfaction and work-life balance have a lot to do with everything but your job.

This one’s about how you perceive your job as it fits into the big picture of your life. In other words, what are you doing when you’re not at work?

Do you have meaningful quality time with family and friends? Do you pursue hobbies, work on personal projects, and support causes that interest you? Do you take care of your body with nutritious food and physical activity? Do you spend time in nature, in meditation, in a house of worship, in a soup kitchen, or other places that satisfy your spiritual needs?

These are the things that fill your cup. Your job will not fill your cup. Yes, a job can be fulfilling. Yes, it can be enjoyable. But it will not be what completes your life.

So you don’t necessarily have to make major changes in your career for a more balanced life. Just make sure you have a job that gives you the space to enjoy all the stuff that’s important to you, even if it’s just one hour each night, and on weekends. That way you don’t have to be resentful of your imperfect job.

3. Satisfaction and balance are about your relationship to your job and to yourself.

Here I’m talking about who you are when you’re at work, and who your job helps you become as a person.

Are you proud of who you are while you’re completing your tasks? Do you try to transfer skills and qualities that you developed on the job into your personal life? Are you nurturing office friendships and having enough laughs around the water cooler?

In short: Are you truly living while you’re working?

Your Turn: What have you come to learn about job satisfaction and work-life balance?

To read more of this writer's PG-13 antics, visit A Brave Life.

© Kimberly Eclipse

About the Author

Kimberly Eclipse, M.A., M.S.Ed.

Kimberly Russell, M.A., M.S.Ed., a counselor and educator, runs a creative studio and small business with her husband.

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