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How to Hack Your Job

How to Hack Your Job

If going in to work is starting to feel like a depressing chore rather than something enjoyable and challenging, you’re not alone – almost ¾ of employees are reportedly unhappy with their jobs. Maybe it’s time for you to rethink where you’re at in terms of your career and your chosen job – and fortunately, there are more opportunities than ever for a job that’s unique and customized to you. Many companies are beginning to realize that the current workforce isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation; many valuable employees are eschewing the traditional 9-to-5 office cubicle and searching for a way to create their best work on their own terms.

As a sea change occurs within traditional office roles, many industries may be left playing catch-up when it comes to attracting top talent. With freelancing and small business becoming lucrative options, and more workplace environments becoming receptive to innovative alternatives, there’s never been a better time to figure out just how you can make your job work for you.

Why the Modern Job Needs to be Hacked

There’s something to be said for the status quo – it keeps things in line; it offers stability; people know that it works. And in the case of the workplace, it can be hard to let go of the status quo – that is, the methods and processes that have gotten a company this far. However, as the workforce becomes upended by new expectations and innovations, many employees are beginning to want something more.

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As seen in The New Face of the American Workforce, with the rise of the Internet has come a wave of outsourcing and collaboration. Companies have begun to realize that they can attain solid work from outside parties, which saves them the costs that would normally go towards fully tenured employees. These outside parties – many of them freelancers – have also benefited from this arrangement, because it offers them more freedom and creativity than being constrained by the traditional employment situation.

Simply put, if you’re a business owner and you want your company to thrive, it’s a good idea to start adapting creative solutions to ensure that your staff is happy to come to work. And if you’re currently an employee stuck in a job that isn’t moving the way you want it to, then it’s time to take action and figure out what you can do to keep yourself motivated. After all, you spend much of your life at your job – you want it to be something you enjoy doing.

The Inside Job

This article from BBC.com defines hacking your job as “breaking the rules, typically in small ways, to net you greater efficiency from the working systems you’re stuck within.” If you’re firmly set inside the working world and want to look for ways to improve it – and your workday as a whole – here are some job hacks you can try:

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Invest your time in learning new software solutions to make work easier. This is one of the top workplace hacks to help make you more efficient, as well as removing an obstacle that can drag your day down. If you find that certain work programs are slowing your progress, start looking for similar alternatives that you can switch to. The BBC.com article uses the example of much-maligned office software like Microsoft Excel and Sharepoint, and suggests using Google Docs and Dropbox instead. If you step away from standard software, you might find your productivity increasing.

Outsource tasks you hate. In many positions, there will be a certain amount of drudgery that you’ll have to undertake. But in a lot of areas, you should feel free to delegate or outsource tasks you dislike doing unto other people. This article emphasizes the need to “relinquish control” and spread the work out so you’re not overloaded, and a similar piece at Entrepreneur agrees that if you choose to outsource, you can free up your schedule while maintaining quality control.

Make time for individual side projects. The Entrepreneur article author has this to say, and he’s not wrong: “Side projects are fun. They’re passion projects. They help me stay creative, empower me to make mistakes without consequence and provide me new opportunities to learn.” If you’ve got enough time on the side, try devoting yourself to learning new software, attending a class online or in the evenings, finding initiatives to give back to the community, or simply putting aside the time for a separate creative pursuit.

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Maintain regular office hours. Be strict about when you will and won’t be in the office. It’s all too easy to come in early or leave late, but that just creates the perception – for both yourself and others – that you have no other life besides your job. Put in your hours of hard work, then clock out and spend your off-time with family or non-work passion projects. This balance will help put an even priority on both your work and your home life.

The outside options

As the workforce continues to change, ideas about staffing changes with it. Although most companies do have a roster of full-time employees, many are continually searching for a more cost-effective alternative. This is where you can come in: If you’re having a difficult time hacking the modern-day office to make it work for you, perhaps it’s time to hack your job into a position where you work for yourself.

Freelancers are without a doubt one of the fastest growing segments of the working population. For many, the idea of getting away from full-time employment, making one’s own hours and choosing one’s clients is irresistible – and becoming more of a potential reality than ever. This Intuit report on business trends states that contingent workers will make up more than 40 per cent of the workforce by 2020, possibly in response to full-time and full-benefit jobs becoming scarce. The time might be right for you to move away from the office and start channeling your skills into freelance work, particularly if you look to the technology, journalism, and marketing sectors. And with the growing popularity of co-working spaces, freelancers can still feel like part of a social office environment without the obligations.

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Startups and other small business ventures is another route you can take. If you have vision that has outgrown being a side project, you may want to consider going forward with bringing it to life as a legitimate business. If loving what you do means never working a day in your life, maybe having your own small business or startup is the key to making your passion into something bankable.

Don’t Be Complacent With A Stagnant Job

With so many options and types of employment currently available, there’s no need to feel stagnant at a job that doesn’t feel satisfying. Instead, try hacking your job in small, manageable ways to make your day more fulfilling and productive, or else go in a new direction entirely and create a job situation where everything is in your own hands. Hacking your job is something that may just be vital for anyone in the modern-day workforce, and it could just make you a better employee in the process.

Have you ever performed any job hacks?

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

Reference

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