We’ve been looking at things that might get you thinking about leaving your job. But if you actually don’t like your job or the work you do, that seems pretty cut and dry. What’s going to change tomorrow that will make enough of a difference? So you have to leave. Right?
Well, it’s not quite so cut and dry. And it might be worth your time to take another look at where you are right now. But this time, let’s try using a different perspective.
Why perspective matters
In a scene from Dead Poet’s Society, Robin Williams has his students get up on his desk and look down at the classroom. The students thought it was weird. And they did it with different levels of commitment and enthusiasm.
But the point of the exercise is that sometimes we get used to looking at things from one direction or angle. And we forget how VERY different they might look if we just change perspectives. The difference can be surprising.
Now let’s try looking at your present job. Then think about the job you really want. What are the differences between the two? You might want to write them down. Try to be as fair and objective as possible, leaving any related emotions out for now.
And now let’s look at your present job again. Consider how your present job might be made more like the job you want. Is there some way you can get yourself assignments that are closer to what you would enjoy doing? It might take a little creativity and some patience. But often it can be done.
Don’t like your job? Change it from the inside!
I’ve never been in a job where I didn’t eventually see opportunities. Like the chance to get into things that interested me more. Or to take on projects outside of my job’s scope. And I say this having worked at all levels of jobs in all kinds of corporate, non-corporate, and academic environments.
Your work experience is not limited by your job title. There are always opportunities to expand your job environment if you don’t limit yourself by applying conditions to new things.
“Conditions?” You ask.
Yes. For instance, one condition you might apply is: “I will only do this new thing (or this additional thing) if it pays more money or gets me recognition.”
“But that makes sense,” you say. “If I don’t fight for what I deserve, who will?”
What are you really winning by being “right”?
You are right — in theory. But sometimes if you can gain from an experience, it’s wise to make exceptions. Especially if you don’t like your job as it is. Setting too many conditions is a sure-fire way to keep yourself from breaking through your self-imposed limits to some real change.
Remember, it’s often these limits that help trap you in an unhappy situation in the first place. Although you think you’re protecting yourself, you’re actually letting your own conditions limit you!
To experience your job from a new perspective, you need to forget the conditions. The point is to find ways to add things you do enjoy to enhance the job you don’t enjoy. Remain open to the possibilities.
So what can you do to change things for yourself?
There are always ways to enhance your work experience. Even if it’s as simple as starting a bowling team or planning a small event that puts you in touch with things you love. When you improve parts of the whole, the whole itself can start to feel better. And it opens you up to others seeing you differently.
A change-of-perspective example from one of my jobs
A few employees decided to ask other staff to participate in an art show. (None of us were professional artists.) It meant extra planning and arranging. And of course, extra time at home to prepare our pieces. But the result was a wonderful exhibit with some truly remarkable photos and paintings by coworkers. Who would have guessed?
So, how did this contribute to job satisfaction? Well, it gave each of us the opportunity to see our co-workers in a new perspective. It provided a time and event that brought us into contact with each other to learn about who we are apart from our regular jobs.
Plus it showcased talents that otherwise might have gone unnoticed. And that included skills that might possibly be put to use in our various everyday jobs. Something the participants would enjoy.
Other ways to spiff up your current job
Besides adding external experiences to your work environment, you can also look for new opportunities in your department or within the company. It may take a bit of patience, as well as some extra energy and time in the short run. But taking on extra opportunities now may pay off in big long-run rewards.
So, if possible, find ways to take on more of the kinds of tasks you enjoy. Take a look around and come up with some possibilities. Then talk to your boss and/or teammates and see if they are open to ideas or projects related to areas you’d like to explore.
Maybe you’d like to take on more internet-related projects. Or write a newsletter. Or help plan upcoming projects or events. Or maybe you want to research ideas you’ve heard discussed. And if you aren’t sure what to suggest, tell your boss what you are interested in and ask her or him for some ideas.
What if my boss hates my ideas?
If you aren’t received with open arms the first time, don’t worry. Not every boss is ready for this. Or it may mean you need to get creative. Try to come up with something a bit more useful to the company’s main business or in tune with your boss’s thinking.
Then come back a few weeks later and try again. Making sure in the meantime you’re doing the best you can to support your boss. Have patience. Eventually, you’ll come up with an idea that gives you a chance to do something you enjoy.
It’s not unrealistic for you to find ways to incorporate more of who you really are into your work. Yes, it might take time. But if you really don’t like your job as it is, set your mind to changing things — slowly if needed. You may be surprised to see the job develop to match you. Mine almost always have.
Just in case you do need to leave
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