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Health & Wellness Articles  ›  Healthy Lifestyles

Find Meaning in a Job Well Done

How to Make All Your Work Rewarding & Satisfying

-- By Dean Anderson, Behavioral Psychology Expert
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Then an old friend came to town for a short visit. While we were out walking around, she noticed one of our local mountains and asked if there were any hiking trails on it. We checked around and found that there were, and against my better judgment, I agreed to go with her on a hike the next day. The trail guide said it was only a 1,300 foot rise in elevation over 1.25 miles, and no technical climbing skills were needed. I figured it couldn’t be any worse than 45 minutes on the stairclimber, which told me I climbed 200 floors.

Climbing that mountain the next day resembled the stairclimber about as much as skydiving resembles sliding down a slide. The first half wasn’t too bad—just simple uphill walking on a marked trail that was steep enough elevate my heart rate into the 80 percent range, but otherwise straightforward. But then the nice, wide trail disappeared, and the rest of the trip involved scrambling up long, steep gullies filled with boulders that were definitely not arranged like stepping stones. It took me a full hour of very heavy breathing to make it up that last half mile, and the trip back down took even longer. I think I got passed by everyone else on the mountain that day—twice by some people, including a family with twin girls who jumped from boulder to boulder and passed me as if I was standing still (which I often was, afraid to move unless there was something to hold onto).

By the time we got back down to the bottom, I was a complete mental and physical wreck—sore everywhere, too many scrapes to count, and muscles in knots from the tension of climbing and feeling certain that I'd fall off the mountain at any moment.

Despite that, I couldn’t wait until the next day that I could come back and do it again. I knew I had found my new favorite exercise.

In case you’re wondering, I am not a masochist or a compulsive exerciser. After thinking about it for a few weeks, this new activity appeals to me because:
  • It requires focused attention. I can't navigate those boulders without paying very close and constant attention to what I'm doing—finding the easiest path, figuring out where to put my feet, what I can hold onto, and so on. If I let my mind wander the way it does on the stairclimber, very bad things could happen.
    Continued ›
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • I quit a job making the most money I have ever made in my life because my boss was always changing the end product of our research and there was never an "official" end result from our research. It never felt like I finished a project. I am a little OCD about these things, so I finally got stressed out enough to develop an ulcer as I am an end-result driven personality. I like to see finished products.

    Some days I regret the decision to leave, and other days I remember how I would be driving home and would just think "what if I drove off the edge of this overpass, would it kill me quickly?". Yeppers, time for a career change. I went into the environmental industry and LOVED it but wrecked a company truck, broke my neck, shoulder and ribs and was fired. So is it all because I couldn't take comfort in a job well done, or am I just NUTS? LOL I think it's a little of both, especially since I am on disability now. - 1/9/2014 12:31:48 PM
  • Like all Coach Dean's articles, this one gives motivation with humor and a better way to look at life! Great! - 4/4/2013 3:06:02 PM
  • Totally awesome article, love your style of writing and sharing, laughed out loud about the girls jumping rock to rock passing you, awesome of you to share that, reminds me that we have to keep a sense of humor about all of this stuff! - 4/4/2013 12:37:16 PM
  • Liked this - 4/4/2013 12:37:15 PM
  • Well done! - 4/4/2013 11:30:06 AM
  • Great article. Just wish my manager would read it and realize having a purpose is necessary for a more productive and satisfied worker. Mine says "just do it because I said so" after telling me "we won't be using the information for anything". My time could be much better utilized. - 4/4/2013 11:25:20 AM
  • This was a great article. Even in drudgery, we can find something special about what we are doing. I recently returned to my hometown to care for my mother and haven't set my mind to finding all the positives in this new life. I think this piece has given me a push in the right direction. Prior to the move, I had been underemployed and while the pay stunk, I really was able to feel good about the hard work I was doing. Now I just need to transfer that attitude to the hard work it is taking to care for mom. - 4/4/2013 10:33:06 AM
  • REFERENCEGIRL73
    Reminds me of the first time I went backpacking. The whole time I hated it and was cursing myself. I even had to let someone else take my pack for awhile. But at the end of the trail, all I wanted was to do it again. Thank you for the reminder! - 4/4/2013 8:12:15 AM
  • what a great article, motivating, have to re-read and absorb more, i give props to the writer - 4/4/2013 6:17:17 AM
  • What an inspiring way of looking at life! Thank you for writing this, I will look at my daily activities in a whole different way. Just love your articles Coach Dean! - 1/26/2013 5:25:59 AM
  • Great article. I needed to read this today! - 6/4/2012 1:32:05 PM
  • What a great read. I try to tell my brother the same thing when he is down about his job. - 2/1/2012 6:56:06 PM
  • What a great article! For a long time I was stuck in a mind-numbing, boring job which I hated. I tried some of your suggestions which did help improve my experience even though the situation remained unchanged. Unfortunately the management did not appreciate any show of creativity or initiative so to preserve my sanity I had to leave. - 2/1/2012 5:25:12 PM
  • I did so need this today. - 2/1/2012 3:36:18 PM
  • I long to have satisfaction in my work, but I find I'm never challenged enough. I'm never kept busy. And I've moved from job to job in my field and always found the same thing. Case in point, I've been back at work from holidays for a month and have hardly had anything to do. I find it really hard to want to come to work when I know 8 hours is going to drag on with me twiddling my thumbs trying to find something to do. I want to work! Nobody wants to make use of me. - 2/1/2012 11:32:54 AM