Kathy Knowles runs a human resources consulting firm dedicated to making businesses more aware of employee needs, and thereby increasing worker satisfaction, retention, and productivity. She reviews some of the general employee factors that are relevant across all types of businesses: Low Pay; Little Opportunity; Minimal Job Meaningfulness; Underappreciated.
Let’s take these items and extrapolate from the workplace to your life. In other words, let’s see how you can apply basic human resource principles to coping with your life circumstances. To do so, you will need to adjust your thinking a bit, and see your life as your workplace and you as both worker and boss.
Low Pay. Are you overly self-critical, always putting yourself down? Give yourself a pay raise, maybe a symbolic pat on the back now and then, complimenting yourself on a job well done. Watch for the times when you feel pretty good, satisfied, about something you did. Pay attention to when the actions occur and resolve to repeat them when the time is right. Give yourself some positive self-talk: “Damn, I was really helpful. I need to do stuff like that more often.”
Little Opportunity. If you are going to empower yourself and cope effectively with life, you need to have challenges in front of you, and the opportunity to tackle those challenges head-on. Doing so will help you develop and improve your skills. Instead of sitting around and stagnating, you must provide yourself with opportunities to venture outside your comfort zone, experience new things, and find ways to improve yourself.
Job Meaningfulness. If a job is not personally meaningful you are unlikely to enjoy it. And, so it is with your life. Your life must be meaningful and give you a sense of purpose if you are to be maximally productive and satisfied with your efforts. This is where your values, morality, integrity, and personal standards enter the picture. If you stop looking for some expert to run your life, stop looking for artificial chemical crutches, and stop being passive and dependent, you will cope more effectively and enjoy fulfilling discoveries along a meaningful road of life. You must develop your own moral compass.
Underappreciated. This item has a lot of overlap with “low pay.” How often do you put yourself down and engage in self-criticism? How often do you march in your own special pity parade? How much do you ruminate about the past and how others were always mean and rejecting? Do you complain about how others do not appreciate how hard you try, and then internalize that criticism giving yourself a pessimistic evaluation of your abilities? Obviously, you’re not perfect; none of us are. But if you get in a pattern of habitually underappreciating yourself, you will strip yourself of confidence, optimism, and willingness to move forward when confronted with life challenges.
Ownership. This is an item I would add to Knowles’ list of how to increase productivity, morale, and satisfaction in employees. Workers should be given the opportunity to participate in the development of company policies; they should be consulted on a regular basis so they feel they are contributing to the decision-making process within the company.
By the same token you need to develop a sense of ownership about your life. You need to feel confident in assessing what you can and cannot control, and within those boundaries, decide how you should direct your life. When you feel such a sense of ownership you are less vulnerable to others who would dominate and use you for their purposes; you feel greater autonomy and independence in being able to take charge of your life and move confidently in directions you choose.