11 Apr How to Get More Out of Any Job
In an ideal world, we would all know what our dream job is.
Unfortunately for most people, it’s not as easy as figuring what we want to do and getting that job.
That dream job might not exist, it might not pay enough, we might not be good enough to get it or for a lot of us, we might have no idea what we actually want to do.
Then throw in the fact that we have to do this thing called living.
Which means we have bills, debt, mortgages, family to provide for, all of which put different types of pressure on us.
This all leads to accepting regular jobs in the mean time.
The jobs that aren’t necessarily what we want to do, but they pay the bills – I’m sure you know the kind.
We stay in them for a range of different reasons; until we pay off bills/debt, move city/country, figure what we want to do or until we’ve had enough of it and quit.
The reason why we accept jobs we don’t love is irrelevant.
The bottom line is, we do.
But just because the roles we’re currently in aren’t our dream jobs, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them and get a great sense of purpose out of them.
Yes, that even applies to the menial jobs we do just for the money – they don’t have to suck.
Stick with me.
A Simple Mind-shift
I used to have a job that I was only in because I needed the money – it was a means to an end.
I never really hated it, I just didn’t look forward to going and began to kinda suck. I knew if I didn’t make some kind of change, I was going to be miserable until I eventually quit.
So I decided to change the way I looked at the job and made myself only focus on the things I could get out of it other than money.
I knew if I could do that, I wouldn’t dread going to work as much and I would probably put in more effort.
I didn’t think too much about it, I just thought I had nothing to lose and hopefully going to work wouldn’t suck as much.
The effect it had was crazy, as soon as I started doing it everything changed.
I started turning up on time, I worked way harder and began going home so much more satisfied. All because I only allowed myself to look at it in a positive light.
The impact this made even eventually snowballed into a few promotions I got within the same company.
But the best part was that I didn’t dread going to work anymore.
The Aha Moment
It wasn’t until I was reading one my favourite books for the first time, “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor a couple years later that I realised what I had actually done.
It mentioned this woman who had made a career out of studying the very thing I had done.
Her name is Amy Wrzesniewski and she studies how the mental perception we have of our jobs affect our performance and the satisfaction we get from them.
Her work tells us that employees have one of three “work orientations” for the work they do. They view it as a “Job”, a “Career” or a “Calling”:
Job – Work purely for the money and don’t enjoy what they do. Friday is the best day of the week, live for the weekend etc.
Career – Enjoy the work they do and want to do well. They see it has an opportunity to learn and succeed.
Calling – They get a deep sense of purpose from what they do and feel like they are contributing to something bigger than themselves.
As you can imagine, people who view their work as a “calling”, find their work more rewarding, work longer and harder, which all result in them typically getting ahead.
Now if you’re sitting there reading this and thinking, “I’m definitely in the first category”, no need to worry.
The coolest part of Wrzesniewski studies revealed that it in order to view your work in the “Calling” category, it fundamentally doesn’t matter what type of job you have.
A calling can have just as much to do with an individuals mindset as it does to the actual job they do.
In other words, in a job you hate? You don’t actually have to quit or change career, you can change the entire meaning of your work, just by changing the way you look at.
This process is known as “Job Crafting” and leads to increased happiness, satisfaction and performance for employees.
Obviously, not all jobs have the same amount of impact in the bigger picture, but I’ll give you a super simple example of two different ways someone can look at the role of a cleaner at a work office.
Cleaner A – Merely cleans dirty surfaces puts out rubbish for a living.
Cleaner B – Contributes to a healthier workplace and environment for employees.
They both do the exact same thing, but their perceptions are entirely different which dictates the type of satisfaction they each get from their roles.
I’m sure you can guess which perception leads to better performance and more fulfilment.
The idea of just changing the way we look at our work can seem rather simple, but it can and does have a massive impact on overall satisfaction.
Whether you view your work as a “Job” or you don’t mind the work you do and want to get more out of it, I’ve outlined exactly how you can change the perception you have of it.
1. Identify the current tasks in your role that give you some type of pleasure.
Actively identifying the tasks you enjoy immediately helps you to start looking at your job in a positive light. The more you can identify, the more you will notice other things you like about it going forward as well.
No matter how much you dislike your job, I’m sure you can find some tasks that you enjoy or at the very least, don’t hate. If you’re struggling to come up with any, look at the type of tasks (e.g. the process) as opposed to what the task involves.
Even the smallest tasks can provide a significant amount meaning. The more you can come up with the better.
2. Bring your own personal goals into the equation.
The satisfaction you get from your job can significantly increase when you start to align your job with your own personal goals.
Work out what all of the personal skills you can improve through your role are.
E.g. Discipline through mindless tasks, efficiency in repetitive work (race yourself), improving communications skills, relationship building, creativity, improving how you work with difficult clients/employees.
Again, the more you can come up with the better.
3. Switch your focus from the job itself to the bigger picture and the value it brings other people.
To ultimately move any job into the career or calling category, what you do every day must contribute to something bigger than yourself, it has to bring some kind of purpose.
Pick a specific task you don’t enjoy doing then draw an arrow underneath it and write down the bigger purpose of it and what it positively contributes to e.g. certain people/parts of the business or even the customers.
If the second thing still has no positive meaning, draw another arrow and again write underneath what work that contributes to. Keep doing this until you can create some meaning and connect it to the bigger picture.
Once you identify the bigger purpose for each task and the impact it has, they each become far easier to complete because you’re more aware of what they contribute towards.
Work takes up such a significant part of our lives, if we don’t enjoy what we do and dread going, we owe it to ourselves see how we can get more out of it.
Any “Job” can become a “Calling” if we want it to be, we just have to be willing to change the way we look at it.
Even if we can begin to start looking at our work as a “Career” and no longer a “Job”, that’s going to have a huge effect on our lives.
I’ve personally used the above techniques as well as helping others use them and can honestly tell you that they work.
If you really don’t enjoy what you do for work, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying the above.