How to love your job!
"If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're
with," croon Crosby, Stills and Nash in their oft-quoted song. The same
could be said of your job, especially in today's troubled economy. That's
not to say you must resign yourself to another six months of boredom,
stress or misery while you wait for the recession to end; you just have to
work a little harder to make your current job work for you. Tinkering with
your present situation involves substantially less risk and effort than
looking for and starting a new job. And once you make a few fundamental
changes, you may find you're right where you want to be, at least for the
time being. Here are eight ways to make the best of the present.
1. Focus on how you're doing, not what you're doing.
Most of us assume that the ultimate in professional satisfaction hinges on
finding the perfect job, but that's putting the cart before the horse. The
first step in doing what we love involves becoming the type of person who
can succeed in our ideal job. When you envision yourself in your dream
job, how would you describe yourself in that role? You may be inspired
(and inspiring to others), highly competent, supremely organized and
confident. These are all things you can work toward becoming right now, no
matter what your job description reads.
2. Find a mentor.
Chances are, unless you work alone, that there's someone on staff you
respect and can learn a lot from, even if their job duties are dissimilar
to yours. You may have to look outside your own department to find a
match, but it's a search well worth undertaking. The mentor-protÃ©gÃ©
relationship can an incredibly fulfilling bond. A good mentor will do more
than stroke your ego; she'll help you look critically at your goals and
how to achieve them. And a mentor doesn't have to be doing a job you want
-- it's how they're doing their job that really matters. You could
approach someone informally for frequent lunches or formalize the
relationship with scheduled check-ins. Either way, choose someone who is
succeeding and happy with their role in the organization.
3. Combine your talents with the company's goals.
Many of us find ourselves in a position that isn't taking advantage of our
strengths. If this is the case, work on finding a way that your talents
can intersect with your company's needs. The first step is to know your
own strengths. Then you'll have to do some investigative work: What does
your company need now or in the near future to stay competitive, and how
can you contribute to that goal? Then you'll have to articulate your value
to the individual who can make it happen. This adjustment takes effort and
creative thinking, but the payoff could be big: A new role for you doing
what you're good at in a way that gives your company a competitive edge --
it's the perfect professional marriage.
4. Own up to at least one weakness and take steps to overcome it.
Operation "Job Improvement" will go more smoothly if you admit that you're
probably not the perfect employee (who is?). It's easy to place all the
blame on the other party.
To that end, identify one thing you can
tackle now that will help you do your job better, improve relations with
your boss or coworkers, or simply make things more tolerable. If you're
a few minutes late to meetings, make an effort to be a few minutes early
from now on; if your relationship with your boss is strained, look at
how you might be contributing to that (Are you responsive enough to his
concerns? Do you keep her updated on your projects?). A weakness doesn't
have to be something you're doing wrong, per se. It can also be an area
you simply need more experience or confidence in. Whatever the case, the
improvements you make now will move with you from job to job.
5. Toot your own horn.
Just as sure as there's an area in which you can improve, there's
something you're doing well that you're probably not getting credit for.
In fact, feeling underappreciated is a top reason for job dissatisfaction.
But in many situations, you won't get the praise you deserve unless you
bring your strengths to the attention of your supervisors.
6. Take advantage of free training.
Many companies offer free group training in computer skills or other
technical or managerial aspects. Even if you don't need the skill for your
present job, it pays to make yourself more marketable for future
prospects. And if your company doesn't automatically offer the training,
ask for it; you may be surprised at how accommodating your supervisors
will be once they know you're interested.
7. Ask and ye shall receive.
Speaking of requests, it's probably the easiest, least-utilized tactic for
getting what you want. And it's surprisingly effective. In many instances,
it's not that management doesn't want to give you what you want or need --
it's that they're oblivious.
8. Create your own project.
For those of you who feel bored or trapped, coming up with an original
project can provide the inspiration and control you lack now. It's best to
start small -- reorganizing your work space, for example -- before moving
on to larger goals, like starting a company-wide volunteer program. This
tactic amounts to much more than busywork: You're building a highly valued
skill -- that of self-initiating -- that can set you apart and boost self
confidence. Working on something you care about will also shift your focus
off job-hating and onto job-creating.
If you try these tips and you're still groaning come Monday morning, it's
probably time to start sending out the resumes. But you can feel good
about the fact that you've exhausted your options and made some
self-improvements that will make you more prepared and marketable for your
next career move.