Have you been thinking about quitting your job? Has your job satisfaction gone to such low levels that you don’t see another way out? Are you simply still dreaming about that “dream job” that once you have it, will change everything?
Even when I think about my own team, the Happiness Creators here at Bright, I can see how there’s room for improvement. That no matter how purposeful the jobs here can be, there may be (many) moments where their jobs still feel like “a job.” What a waste of time and talent!
Changing your job, without changing your job
We need to acknowledge and accept that there will always be things we “need” to do. Even for me as a a business owner. I easily spend 20% of my time on tasks that have nothing to do with what I enjoy or find useful.
What we should throw away though, is the idea that we can’t change our jobs in a more positive way. That we simply can’t make them more purposeful.
Because we actually have a lot of influence over our jobs – much more than we think. What our day-to-day job entails isn’t just up to your boss. It’s up to you as well! And that’s great. Because the more you can wake up with the sense of purpose, the more you will enjoy your job. And, the more your team will enjoy working with you. The more your employer will value you.
And so, when you feel stuck in a certain job, you may think the solution is to find a new job. You keep looking at what you consider a dream job… and keep dreaming. If it’s time to pursue that dream job, you should. But whether you can make the jump already, or need some time to prepare for it, there’s something you can do TODAY.
Design your Dream Job Step 1: Understanding your goals
So how do I make sure I enjoy my everyday work?
When we think about happiness at work, we start by understanding why you’re working. Besides a paycheck (hopefully a good one), what are you getting out of your job? After 6 more months of working in your job, or a year or 5 years, what do you want to do next? What’s your next big goal? Is it a certain other job? Becoming an author? Running a business?
If you understand your goal, you’ll be better able to look at your current job and understand what you enjoy and what is useful towards that goal.
Design your Dream Job Step 2:
Break down your job into “tasks”
To do that, we will break up your job into all the tasks, big and small, it asks of you. This could range from “replying to customer emails” to “review meetings” and from “designing a coupon” to “creating a pitch deck.” Whatever it is, list it out. Write down every single task. This process alone will give you a much better understanding of what your job really is – and which parts of it you love, and don’t.
Now that you have listed all your tasks, you’re going to assess them. One by one, you’ll think about them and how they make you feel. Is this something you want to do? Something you’d love to get rid of? Is this something you can’t wait do more of?
If you’ve read or seen Marie Kondo, you’ll recognize this as sorting for what “sparks joy.”
Look out! Not every boring job is a boring job
It’s very important to note that even very dull tasks can “spark joy” if you look at them in the right light. Because if you visualize your goal, you can see even bothersome or annoying tasks as something that you can learn from.
For example, you may not like answering customer emails. But what if your goal is to start your own company? Then, you could turn this menial task into an exercise of “understanding customers.” Now, something that seemed boring, may become much more fun and purposeful because there’s an intrinsic reason to fully engage in the task. This is not just about optimistic thinking, it’s about seeing your tasks for what they really are.
Design your Dream Job Step 3: Sort all tasks and create your Dream Job
So with this in mind, we can truthfully assess all of our tasks and consider if they “spark joy” for us. In order to do so, we will divide tasks into 3 categories:
- I don’t want to do this anymore
- I’m happy to continue it
- I want to do more of this!
To make it easier for you, we’ve prepared a simple spreadsheet to help you sort your tasks. Find it here. It’s read-only, so you’ll need to make a copy and start your own version.
New tasks: truly building towards your dream job
You’ll notice that there is a “New Tasks” section in this spreadsheet as well. And there’s a good reason for that. Once you’ve visualized what your goal is, you therefore know what you want to learn and experience over the next 6-12 months. Now, sometimes, those are not things you can learn on the job. But maybe, you see an opportunity to pitch your boss (or yourself as a business owner) to make this thing you want to learn, part of your job.
Let’s say you want to start your own company in the next 1-2 years. That means you’ll need project management skills, or leadership skills. But in your current job, you don’t have the chance yet to practice these skills.
So instead of thinking “let me go study and take a training outside of work,” propose to have it be part of your everyday job. You’d be surprised how often your employer will be receptive to these kinds of propositions!
Again, when you find more purpose in your everyday, it benefits more than just yourself. Your teams, your company, will benefit just as much. That’s why we always encourage companies to support their employees in pursuing what they love.
Life-long learning “on the job”
So now that you know what you need to change, and which new elements you need to bring into your job, it’s time for “the conversation.”
At Bright, I ask my team not only to do this exercise, but to always be mindful that they never spend more than 20% of their time on stuff that’s “just a job.” The other 80% should be spent on things that are fun, meaningful, or ideally both. Whenever it tips below that, it’s time to ring the alarm bell!
Research shows that we’re happier when we’re developing an learning. Snapping out of the daily routine of your current job will be beneficial on many levels. The recent HBR article “Making Learning a Part of Everyday Work” says as much. It recommends to set development goals and redesign your everyday work life to fit those goals as a way to always “learn on the job.”
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