Have you ever had that feeling the something was almost perfect? You couldn’t quite put your finger on it, but something was missing. I think we all have, and while it’s mildly vexing in our personal lives, it can be extremely frustrating when it happens professionally.
If you’ve ever uttered the words,“my job would be great, if…” then you’re in the right place – turning your day job into your dream job is just a few steps away.
Step 1: Take A Break
It may seem like the exact opposite of what you think you should do if you’re trying to take things to the next level with your existing job, but I promise, a little break will do you a world of good. Before you take the next steps to really amp up your performance in your existing position, you’ll want to take a little break to prepare. Whether it’s just a long weekend or a full-on two-week vaca in the Bahamas, it doesn’t matter how long or where, just as long as you get a little R&R in before you get down to business.
Taking a breather before a full-court press is always a good idea. It’ll help you clear your mind, not to mention give your body a rest too. After all, you’re going to be focusing a ton of your time and energy on your career really soon, so take advantage of time away from the office, and you’ll be focused and ready for the challenge when you return.
Step 2: Make A List
Now that you’re all rested up, it’s time to get to work. But don’t worry, I wouldn’t dream of throwing you in headfirst right off the bat. Before you can really start to make moves and change your current situation, you’ll need to really understand where you’re at now, and where you’d like to be. And that, my friends, requires a list.
Start this as soon as you park it at your desk after you’ve returned from some time off. Jot down whatever pops into your head, with a focus on what you notice about your current job situation. Do you despise how many voicemails you have to listen to? Or the pile of memos on your desk? Or maybe it’s the proximity of your desk to the kitchen. Whatever it is, if you have a strong feeling about your working environment or your role – good or bad – put it on the list. Keep that list going for a week, and try not to review or revise. Just let your first impressions speak for themselves.
After a week of gathering observations, take your list and organize everything into a spreadsheet. Categorize your thoughts as much as possible, then, when you’re done, you’ll have a condensed view of what you love – and loathe – about your job.
While you may not be able to address each and every item on your list, simply understanding what you like and dislike about your role will help give you clarity about where you want to go next.
Step 3: Start Talking
This is the fun part. Now that you have an extensive list about what you’re getting – or not – out of your role, it’s time to start thinking about what you’d do if you could make the role your own.
Whenever you see something that’s not working the way you’d like, instead of putting it on your list, come up with an alternative solution. Once you have a great idea, don’t be shy – start talking it up! While managers are notoriously overworked and can sometimes be tough to approach, I guarantee you, any manager will at least appreciate the effort of a well thought out alternative to a process or procedure that isn’t quite perfect.
Also, don’t be afraid to voice your ambitions to your boss and colleagues. Share your views on how to make your existing role better for the company, and for you. Be careful not to diss your current position, though, and keep it positive. Before long, everyone in the office will hear the buzz, and know you’re working hard to make a difference.
Step 4: Walk The Walk
As much as I try to avoid clichés, this is one of the few times I’ll bust one out, because it’s true: Talk is cheap. At least for a while. Sure, it’s great to get the word out that you’ve got great ideas, but without action, those ideas will quickly be forgotten.
So, this is when you need to start walking the walk. Put all those great ideas into action, and start flexing those muscles. Show your boss, and your colleagues, you not only have great ideas, but you can execute them as well. This could even be as simple as planning a company ice cream social on a random Thursday to spice up the office culture.
There are lots of ways to show that you’re willing to go the extra mile to take your career to the next level – volunteer to take on new projects, join networking groups, get smart on an industry or subject matter that you know little about, invest in higher education.
Turning a ho-hum job into the job of your dreams won’t happen overnight. But with some planning, and a lot of hard work, you can transform your day job into your dream job.
Disclosure: This post was written as part of the University of Phoenix Versus Program. I’m a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own.