One of the aspects we help our proteges keep track of on the Protagion platform is their career fulfilment. We ask about it initially as part of their self-directed Journey of Self-Discovery (designed to support them to think about their goals and desired future, and their route so far), and then also remind them in their Protagion diary to update their career fulfilment score over time. It ranges from zero to ten, with zero being the extreme of “completely not fulfilled, dreading work every day” and ten being the other extreme of “ecstatic, dreaming of bounding & skipping to work”.
Based on discussion with one of our mentors, we’ve done further thinking on the dimensions of career fulfilment i.e. what contributes to our fulfilment at work. There are three key elements:
While these are naturally affected by the working environment we’re in (including our boss and colleagues), we also have an influence over them personally, both through our attitude as well as our willingness to put ourselves forward for new challenges. In addition, great mentors or coaches can help us to improve how supported, accomplished and/or satisfied we feel, independent of our current workplace, by helping us develop, pushing us forward, or giving us different perspectives.
Do you agree with these dimensions of career fulfilment: satisfaction, achievement/challenge, and support? And, are there any additional dimensions that form part of career fulfilment for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Another approach we’ve come across for thinking about Career Fulfilment is described by Scott H Young on his blog. He splits it into two major themes: (i) the economic perspective (which considers the utility and consumer surplus generated for others by our work), (ii) the psychological perspective (which considers autonomy, ability, connection with others and respect). Our approach focuses on the second element i.e. more about emotional fulfilment than economic/rational fulfilment, although we encourage our proteges to track their salary growth too.
[Advice for career transitions:] Locate people who are 2-3 steps ahead of you in the kind of career you want to have. You need to talk to these people, not just random people on the internet you admire, to map out how your career actually works.”
A further model of career fulfilment that considers the psychological perspective is that of Margaret Gould Stewart at Facebook, in her Medium post sharing “a map to find” the dimensions of job fulfilment. Her four elements share some broad overlap with ours:
Margaret also helpfully shares these ways to build momentum for change:
Growing… can mean developing new technical skills, learning how to manage or scale a team, or enhancing soft skills like collaboration, communication, or conflict resolution. Sometimes these opportunities for growth can come from performance feedback in your current role. And sometimes, they come from dreaming about the kind of role you want in a year or two, and mapping out what you need to learn to be ready for those new challenges. Identify things that are important for you to learn, both for yourself and your long-term career development. Then work to make those learning opportunities happen in your current role. If the context won’t support or allow it, maybe it’s time to find another project, team, or context that will.”