One Zoom meeting blurs into another Zoom meeting. It’s hard to define where one day ends and the next one begins. Bogged down, uninspired, and unmotivated by your inbox, to-do list, and one too many texts and DMs, you find yourself stuck in a familiar refrain that work sucks.
Exhausted from the “Sunday scaries” because you dread Monday morning and weary of counting down the minutes until your virtual happy hour every Wednesday, you wonder is it even possible for your work to energize, engage, and fulfill you?
However, you need to decide what stimulating, pleasurable work looks and feels like for you.
Why? Because there is no one-size-fits-all fabulous, meaningful job. The value, importance, and satisfaction of work are defined by you. Meaning is not controlled by what happens in your life. It is made by your interpretation of the events in your life.
So, if you’re ready to end the vicious cycle of work sucks, now is the time to be an active designer and creator of your professional experience. Here are the three essential steps to revitalize your job, career, and life.
Change how you perform your set of assigned job duties
You have two options to adjust the tasks in your job. The first option is to modify either a task’s scope or nature. For example, Ava is the project manager at a national construction supply company, and one of her responsibilities is to ensure that the construction team uses high-quality products on their projects. While researching innovative building supply materials, she would explore and brainstorm marketing opportunities for the company, which was not part of her job. However, because she was interested in it, she used this as an opportunity to modify the scope and nature of her job.
The second option to alter your tasks at work is to take on additional responsibilities. For example, in her meetings with the sales team, the owner of the company, or the project site supervisors, Ava now shares a promotional idea for how to use their product selections to differentiate them from their competition.
To change how you perform your tasks, ask yourself:
- What job duty could I modify so that I can more fully use my strengths to add more meaning to my job?
- What strength am I not using that I want to use to unlock more significance in my work?
- What task could I add to use this strength and find more value in my work?
Review your answers to each question and pinpoint the job responsibility that you can modify without the approval of your manager. Then, just do it. How good does that feel? For other assignments that need input from your manager, schedule a meeting to discuss what you want to do and how it will benefit both you and the company.
Modify and enhance your professional relationships
There are two opportunities to elevate your professional relationships. First, you can alter the extent or nature of your affiliation with the people you currently work with. For example, Joe, an associate at an insurance company, adjusted his relationship with his manager Susan. She would spend hours in meetings analyzing a quote that could have been discussed in an hour. Now, if there is a meeting scheduled to review a quote, Joe schedules another meeting to start one hour after his meeting with Susan. This ensures their meeting ends on time and that the quote review is complete. Joe has saved hours and does not think Susan has noticed because all his quotes have been completed correctly and submitted on time.
Your second possibility is to develop and build new associations. One of my coaching clients reached out to the chair of their company’s Women Connect group to get involved as a mentor for women in her organization. This enabled her to advocate for women in her company and support the company’s efforts to diversify the senior leadership team.
- Who do you want to connect with to create an opportunity for more significance in your work?
- Who do you want as a mentor and advocate for your career?
- Who in your organization has the career you want?
Identify five to seven people you want to develop a relationship with and then reach out to them for a virtual coffee date.
Reimagine the value of your job
The final place you can design your work is cognitive, which is how you define and relate to your work. When you do this, you reframe your job and see it as an important whole that positively impacts others rather than a collection of separate to-dos.
How? Expand the lens through which you observe your work. The objective is to zoom out so you can look at your responsibilities as a collection of tasks, not a set of individual duties. Don’t focus on just one aspect of your work, and don’t look at a single to-do task in isolation. Each task is part of a greater whole. It is the composite of them all that has the value and purpose for you.
To see the collective whole of your work, list your job accountabilities. For each one, ask yourself the question: “So what?” This question acts as a way for you to recognize the importance or significance of each duty. Review your answers and look for themes. How would you describe the central objective of your work?
Your final step is to acknowledge how your work positively impacts other people. Consider the following questions:
- Why do people buy your product or service?
- What is the benefit your customers receive from using your product or service?
- What would happen if your product or service did not exist? For your customer? For your community?
- How do you positively affect people?
The vitality of your job, career, and life is in your control. You can choose to be an active creator and designer of your professional experience and change how you perform your set of assigned job duties, modify and enhance your professional relationships, and reimagine the value of your job. This is your power. Own it.
Carson Tate is the founder and managing partner of Working Simply, Inc., a business consulting firm that partners with organizations, business leaders, and employees to enhance workplace productivity, foster employee engagement, and build personal and professional legacies. She is the author of Own It. Love It. Make It Work.: How To Make Any Job Your Dream Job.