How to energize your work by changing what you do

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If you want to feel more energized in the job you have right now, an obvious step is to explore the question, “What can I change about what I do?”

This is one of a series of posts on how to juice up your job right where you’re at. In the first step, you used the Gain-to-Drain Ratio to do a “personal energy audit” of your job. In the second, you identified your energizers.

Those two steps gave you specifics to work with, both about your job and what lights you up. Now you can start putting that insight to work by changing what you do.

Is there any way to do more of what you really enjoy about your work? Is there any way you can start doing less of what sucks the energy right out of your world? Remember that very few jobs are cast in stone. Especially when you add time into the mix, many jobs are pretty malleable.

In fact, ignoring your job’s malleability is a great way to stay unnecessarily stuck in the same old dissatisfied rut.

Incorporate your energizers

In my last post, I talked about finding your energizers – the underlying reasons why you love what you love, the common themes that tend to be there when you feel energized and engaged. (For example, exploration and discovery is a hugely important energizer for me. Other people’s energizers might include, for example, creating, or analysis, or problem-solving, or helping people thrive.)

Knowing what your energizers are opens the door to a powerful yet simple job-sculpting question: “How can I experience more of those?”

Help your boss help you

One way I have seen my Passion Catalyst clients do that really effectively is sharing what they have learned with their boss, providing her or him with more insight on how to shape their responsibilities to better reflect where they shined.

Think about it. One of the challenges any boss has is how to get the most out of the people who work for her. The most productivity, the highest performance, etc. When you tell your boss, “here are the underlying characteristics that are there when I’m most energized,” you’re really telling her, “Here are some of the ways to get the most out of me. Here are some of the ways you can help me feel at the top of my game.” That in turn would help your boss recognize what projects and responsibilities to steer your way.

I have seen this one thing turn a mediocre fit into a job the client loves. It’s not some kind of magic wand solution. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. Depending on how far off base you are to begin with, a more likely outcome might be that you will start feeling better about how you spend your days, even if it isn’t a perfect fit. Definitely better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick!

Scan the horizon and evaluate opportunities 

Another way you can put your knowledge of what lights you up to use is to scan the horizon for opportunities that will let you experience more of your energizers. For example, let’s say your company is just starting to develop an employee volunteer program, and there is an opportunity for somebody to step up and spearhead its development.

In identifying your organizers, let’s say two common themes that came up were organizing and helping people. Looking at the role of developing the volunteer program you might realize, “Wow! That is jam packed with organizing and helping people!” So you lobby for the opportunity to take it on.

Presto! More juice in your job.

That same process can apply any time you’re presented with, for example, the opportunity to take on a new project, or a new responsibility in your job. You can go beyond the normal “will this give me experience/visibility/etc.” and ask, “Is this likely to leave me feeling energized?”

The cumulative impact of that one question over time can be enormous.

Use your energy audit

The point of the energy audit (where you identified what energizes you about your job and what drains your energy) was to give you a detailed picture of what’s happening in your job so you have specifics to work with as you start taking action to make positive change.

You can look at all the aspects of your work you have identified that give you energy and ask, “Is there any way I can bring more of each of these things into the picture?” Conversely, you can look at the energy drains and ask, “Is there any way I can do less of these things?”

Here again, as appropriate, it might be worth sharing some of these insights with your boss. She might be able to steer more of what energizes you your way, or even take some of what drains you off your hands. I’ve even seen clients initiate a partial “responsibilities swap” with a co-worker who was better suited for a particular responsibility.

Take advantage of time

Finally, don’t limit yourself by feeling you need to make all the positive change possible right now. Some of the positive change that is possible only unfolds over time.

Remind yourself that there is a cumulative change that can unfold if you cultivate it. Make the immediate change where you can, but watch for the opportunities that will help your job evolve as well.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide