June 20, 2013
How to make an ordinary job extraordinary
You spend the better part of your day at work. You want to enjoy it. You want to love it.
But what if your current job is "just a job"? And what if, for one reason or another, you need to stay in that job for a while? Are you doomed to being miserable in the meantime?
The good news is -- nope! As Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young did not sing, if you can't have the job you love, love the job you have. Here's how:
Get to know thyself. Understanding what makes us happy is key to finding the work that makes us happy. Don't laugh -- a lot of people have never considered the causes and components of their own enjoyment.
For example, do you like to work in teams? Is human interaction important to you? Then if your job involves copious amounts of solitary time, you may not be happy at all. Your answer here is to identify the tasks that would be better done by groups, and why, and make a suggestion. Innovation, creativity -- bosses love it.
Specialize. Every job involves parts we enjoy and parts we don't. You can enhance the enjoyment portion of your work by doing those things you do like more thoroughly and creatively (while, of course, continuing to slog through the bits you don't like).
Who knows? You may become so known for your "specialties" that your employer assigns you more of those fun (to you) tasks -- and, correspondingly, fewer of the less-fun tasks. You can fine-tune almost any job this way, and your boss may never even notice you're doing it.
Work harder. This sounds counterintuitive. Why bust your chops at a job you don't particularly care for? Well, think about this: A lot of our happiness comes from a sense of accomplishment, of mastery. (This is true in life as well as at work.)
The better you are at your job, the greater your feeling of accomplishment. Being the ace, the go-to person, the "one who knows" can be tremendously satisfying and happy-making. Try it. It can't hurt.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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