By Jack Kelly
Day 7: Craft your tasks. This post is part of Forbes’ Career Challenge: Rediscover Your Purpose In 15 Days.
We spend the vast majority of our waking hours at work. Given just how much time, energy and effort we expend in our jobs, it’s reasonable to want to hold one that offers us a sense of purpose and meaning.
You should strive to pursue a job or career that offers the chance to be challenged. Pursue work that is meaningful, intellectually challenging and spiritually rewarding. Find a job that enables you to help others, promotes positive change and serves a higher purpose. You want to ensure that your work is aligned with your core values and principles and could possibly make the world a better place.
I understand that these are lofty, aspirational goals. It is rare to find work that offers a sense of purpose. In fact, it’s more likely that your job won’t offer intrinsic, meaningful rewards. You may enjoy the fact that your job is associated with a social status that people find impressive or that it helps you earn a nice living, but somehow, you still feel that something is missing.
If you feel that there is a lack of purpose in your career, you can choose to make a change.
This change does not require you to seek out an entirely new role at a different company, especially given the current job climate. Although the U.S. has record-high employment, the trends that we are seeing play out in hiring now are not conducive to favorable outcomes for prospective job seekers. In fact, badly mistreating job seekers has become commonplace.
Instead of taking grave risks by walking away from your current employer, you can simply make waves by crafting your job to find optimal meaningfulness—the degree of significance an employee believes their work possesses. Job crafting is the process of redefining and reimagining your job design—tasks and relationships assigned to one person in an organization—to foster job satisfaction and bolster employee engagement and performance. As you aim to redefine your purpose within the company, you should focus on your motives, strengths and passions to help you get there. What energizes you? What exhausts you? To add personal touches to your work, visualize your job, lay out its components and reframe them to better suit you.
You can start your journey with small incremental changes that add up over time. Here is what you should do now to start.
1. Recognize that, with any job, there will be monotonous unglamorous tasks. Even the CEO has to deal with canceled flights, late Ubers and surly underlings.
2. Accept that there will always be a certain percentage of responsibilities that may not change and focus on the things that you do have the power to change.
3. Ask to speak with your boss to discuss your goal of job crafting, with respect to your responsibilities.
4. Work with your manager to create new responsibilities that provide you with purpose and meaning. Take proactive steps to redesign elements of what you do at work. For example:
- If you are an accountant, you could suggest starting a unit that caters to charitable organizations.
- If you are an attorney, you could request to do pro bono work to help immigrants.
- If you are a stock broker, you could offer discounted advice to parents with college-bound students.
5. Offer to mentor junior staffers, or seek out a manager-level role to unlock your untapped potential.
6. Ask to attend meet-ups for people who are unemployed or seeking work, as you could offer career advice—or maybe you have a job for them.
7. Change your mindset regarding your responsibilities. If you are a janitor at a hospital, for example, try and see yourself in playing a role in curing people’s illnesses.
8. Delegate certain responsibilities that don’t fit your skill set and rob you of your enthusiasm, and ask for assignments that you feel are a better match.
9. If you are at a desk all day long and desire interaction with others, ask about opportunities to get out in front of clients.
10. If you feel overloaded with small tasks that take you away from the more important matters you enjoy, request to shift this work to a more junior-level staffer. You may have mastered your job and require more challenging assignments.
Companies stand to gain a lot by enabling job crafting within an organization. Employees are empowered by being awarded the reins to steer their own careers. Job crafting ensures employee retention and will elevate even the weakest of links by molding tasks to their strengths and passions.
Employees who execute job crafting often end up more engaged and fulfilled in their work lives, achieve higher levels of performance in their companies and obtain unrivaled personal gratification.
You will be viewed in a positive light—seen as engaged, re-energized, loyal and dedicated. Your boss will respect your desire to pursue new meaningful work. In a hot job market, management will welcome a person who desires to stay with the company and improve themselves. You could serve as an example for others to follow, thereby making additional employees feel empowered and dedicated to the company.
Ready for the next challenge? Click here for Day 8: Invest in your career.
Miss a challenge? Click here for Day 6: Understand how you fit.