I offered another question instead to help you get better answers, answers that can open up new options for you.
This week I want to give you some ideas to help expand your options.
When considering changes to your work life, there are four main categories to consider. I’ll elaborate a bit about each of them to help you get started.
1. Get more of what you want in your current job.
What would allow you to enjoy your current job more? How could you bring more of what you love into what you already do?
Maybe you could identify projects you would enjoy working on and find ways to incorporate them into your work. For example, I had a friend who was a researcher at a university who got permission to teach a class on a subject she was passionate about. Naturally creative, she also incorporated poetry into her conference presentations (and believe it or not, this was a big hit).
Sometimes clients find that having direct conversations with their bosses and making requests regarding their needs is all they really need to feel satisfied. Sometimes all they needed to do was ask for more feedback, less interference, more flexibility, more training, the ability to work from home, etc.
For some, resolving conflict with coworkers and supervisors is key to making their job enjoyable again. For others, it might be finding ways to take breaks, focus on one thing at a time more, or stop striving for perfection.
If someone wants a greater sense of purpose in their work, they might find ways to connect with the impact of their work. I had a client who was managing a legal staff at a financial firm who brought lots more meaning to his work simply by taking his employees out to lunch regularly and getting to know them more deeply.
Some people can find meaning in their work simply by finding ways to delight others. Not sure what I mean? Meet the banana man.
If you find that you want something more than greater enjoyment of your current job, then you could…
2. Get more of what you want outside of your current job.
To do more of what you love, you could cut back on your hours at work and get more involved in your passions outside of work. If you want to do this, it can help to develop your skills around dealing with requests and setting boundaries.
I had a client who discovered she was passionate about gardening and sharing this passion with her community. She considered various ways of making money from gardening and decided that none of them would give her the lifestyle she wanted. So she found a job she liked that gave her the time and resources to start a community garden outside of work. And that turned out to be great for her.
You could also work for a couple of years, save up money, and then take time off to pursue your passions.
If you just can’t find ways to save or can’t find the time or energy to do what you want while working in your current job, then move on to item #3.
3. Find a new job.
This is a pretty obvious option, and one most people have considered, if not spent numerous hours daydreaming about. I don’t have much to add here, except to say how vitally important it is that you know what you want (what you really, really want) if you do make a change.
If you haven’t taken the time to get clear about what this is, then I highly recommend doing so before you find something new. Because (1) you may discover that you can find what you want in your current setup, and (2) if you don’t, you’re likely to find yourself in the same situation again in the not-too-distant future. Groundhog Day, here we come.
And if none of these strategies feels like it can give you what you want, then you always have the option to…
4. Start something yourself.
This is a great option, especially if a structure for what you want to offer the world isn’t already out there.
Again, your particular desires, needs, and intentions will inform whether you can be perfectly happy doing this part-time after a day job or whether you want to go all in and do it full-time.
If you decide that this is the way you want to go, and you decide you want to earn money doing it, then you need to consider not only what you want to do, but also what pain you can help solve.
Frederick Buechner defines vocation as “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”
Ultimately, our calling is about how we can be of service in the world. That’s really what’s most important when you get down to it, mostly because that’s what gives meaning to what we do. But it also gives us a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and it’s also key to making money, incidentally. Funny how that works out.
So ask yourself: What problem are you uniquely positioned to help people solve? How can you make others’ lives better? What do you have that other people need?
What you give to the world is what matters. Whether you make money off of it is just a matter of preference.
***Photo credit: abhi