“From classic studies on worker motivation to seminal research on work re-design, the concept of autonomy plays an important role in understanding worker attitude and well-being. Studies highlight the idea that lack of autonomy, or control over the process and product of one’s work, leads to worker dissatisfaction… Greater autonomy allows individuals greater input into their work process and product, engendering greater work satisfaction and commitment.”
To many people, being laid off reveals that their sense of autonomy was based on something they could not control. Of course, this can be devastating to a person’s sense of well-being, especially if the consequences of being without work begin to mount.
As Dave outlined in previous discussions, many people melt under these circumstances and sink into varying levels of despair. Others see the same circumstances as a pathway to better things.
Finding that pathway means exercising a sense of control. Resilient people figure out what they can control and focus on these things. They ignore the things they can’t control.
This doesn’t mean ignoring the lessons learned from the past, rather using negative experiences to see the possibilities for the future. Finding autonomy in our work is a lesson that can benefit each of us.
How can this principle be applied to your circumstances? If you’re in a situation where you’re looking for work, try to find positions where you’ll have greater control over your personal destiny. This may require that you push into some areas that feel uncomfortable at the moment.
If you have a job, be thankful. But, don’t be lulled into complacency. Use the time and your current work situation to increase your own level of autonomy. This is a win-win situation: it will improve the level of satisfaction you experience at work, and at the same time help transform you into a more resilient person.