By: Bijal Choksi
Remember when you first interviewed for your job? How you were filled with excitement and hope? And how thrilled you were when you found out you landed the job? Yes! How long did it take for the honeymoon phase to fade once you started the new job – a year, a month, less?
Most people have expectations of their job that I refer to as the “Disney dream.” They think they are going to find that “perfect” job with a fabulous boss, an ideal culture, great hours, the right amount of challenging work, and live happily ever after.
But instead of waiting for that ideal job, you can try the following right now to feel more satisfied at your current job.
1. Upgrade your relationships.
Think about your interactions at work. How do you relate to co-workers, customers, or vendors? Can you change how, when, or with whom you interact with in the execution of your job? Make an effort to have more face-to-face conversations with co-workers who energize you versus always communicating with them via email. Conversely, keep in-person interactions with those individuals that drain you to a minimum.
2. Broaden your perception of your role’s impact.
Instead of solely focusing on your immediate team or department, think about the broad impact your job has – for the customer, company, community, and society.
In a study of hospital cleaners, those who consciously framed their jobs more broadly, such as that their role helps patients have a better experience at the hospital, gained greater satisfaction from their job. This is diametrically opposed to other cleaners who merely viewed their job as a means to a paycheck. The latter group was not engaged or as happy at work. Ironically, both groups did the same tasks but had very different work experiences. So I challenge you to think about how you can broaden your perspective.
3. Keep tasks exciting.
In any role, there are some tedious, repetitive tasks that just have to get done. First, check if there’s someone else on the team who actually enjoys or excels at that task. For example, even though you don’t enjoy determining the agenda and facilitating the monthly department meetings, someone else may want to develop those skills and be happy to take that on. Win-win.
If there isn’t someone else to take on the task, ask yourself how you can alter the task to make it more novel. Can you add humor to the facilitation? Can you challenge yourself and see if you can get every single person to participate at the next meeting? The point is to alter the task just slightly, in a way that is meaningful to you, to stimulate your brain and get you off autopilot. What aspects of your job do you find exciting and stimulating? Tilt your tasks towards those positive elements.
4. Focus on learning.
Leverage your job as an opportunity to expand your professional or personal skills. If you are an introvert and want to practice being more comfortable meeting new people, use encounters in your work as an opportunity to practice those skills. If you are a creative person but in a more traditional role, figure out how you can incorporate creativity into your job’s required tasks. The same work will be done, but by adding your personal goals, you personalize your work life and make tasks more meaningful to you.
I encourage everyone to figure out their strengths and motivations and apply them daily. One free tool I like is the Via Character Survey, which is a simple self-assessment tool. I’ve also created a worksheet to guide readers through the above job crafting process.
It’s time to stop feeling limited or frustrated with your official job description. That is merely a starting point. While still accomplishing your role’s necessary goals, you can upgrade your work life by reimagining your job. That way, regardless of whether you obtain your “Disney dream” job, you will be happier in any role you hold.
Original article here