Ask a Boomer: Advice for finding satisfaction in the work world

For nearly 25 years of my life, I spent part of virtually every day obsessing about my career. Judging by the initial response to our query for questions for the Boomster, CharlotteFive readers do too. Several peeps wrote in asking about work, job satisfaction, and what to expect after spending decades at the salt mine.

Brittany G. seemed to capture the zeitgeist as she pondered the following:

“I have been thinking a lot lately about the term ‘job satisfaction.’ I am in my late 20s, and started my career with energy and enthusiasm. I embarked on my job search in 2008, after the recession, and was thankful to find anything that paid and didn’t require me to clean up beer spills or deliver chicken wings to drunken sports enthusiasts. Jump forward to now. I have a well-paying job with full benefits and a great deal of flexibility. But I’m ‘eh’ about it. … 

“I’m curious about a Boomer’s take on the j-o-b. Should we enjoy what we do and be eager to start our workday each morning? Or, should we suck it up and appreciate what that job provides us, even if each day is not a thrill?”

The advice

Not to be overly dramatic, but “eh” is the intellectual voice in your head tugging at the very real visceral, emotive desire for meaning and purpose. It lives in your soul. Here’s the deal. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive – you can satisfy both, though it may mean modifying your expectations along the way.

For me, I just sucked it up for 25 years working a series of jobs that offered coin, security, and a means to financial ends. I was always much too afraid to give up the cash and security that went with it, even if self actualization was around the corner. It was only after the bottom fell out in the recession of 2008 and I was jettisoned from Corporate America did I realize retrospectively how miserable I’d been and how much I regretted not having broader expectations for myself. Unencumbered from the corporate tether, I saw all the ways, both within and beyond the J-O-B, where I could nourish my soul. I rebalanced my priorities and started making up for years neglecting the carefree me.

I encourage you to consider what I refer to as the Quality of Life Equation to determine what’s really important for you at this stage of your life. Each of us wants a great “quality of life.” What that means though is not only different for everyone, it varies for us at different times in our life, and these elements have different weights as life changes.

In this example: QL = J + F+ H+ $ + S + T + etc., Quality of Life is a function of Job Satisfaction + Family + Health + Money + Spirituality + Travel + etc. Your equation will have the elements that make YOU happy – consider that today, Job Satisfaction may have too much weight in your equation. If you say no, “it’s appropriately weighted,” determine if there are other actions you can take within your job that may be more fulfilling like working with new-hires in on-boarding, or volunteering for a special project, or maybe finding another job altogether.

You may wish however, just to lessen your job’s weight OR the $$$ weight in your equation. You may decide to look at other elements — like extracurricular volunteerism — and place more emphasis on them to derive the happiness you’re after.

The point is pick a change to make and DO IT. And don’t look back. 

Have a question for our Boomer? Email it to with the subject line “Ask a Boomer.” 

Photo: CharlotteFive