Are you bored with your
job? Has your work become one endless task after another? Many people are so
caught up in getting things done they lose sight of the purpose of their work
and quickly get bored. In fact, the more secure and stable a job starts to be,
the more likely we are to find it unchallenging. What used to be fun and interesting
is now boring and monotonous. In The Tragic Sense of Life, Spanish philosopher
Miguel de Unamuno writes, "To fall into habit is to begin to cease to be."
Why does it matter
how challenging your work is?
1) Usually, tasks performed
over and over again become less challenging and are sure to become a bore;
2) challenge and stimulation are the fuel of passion for the job.
3) what is challenging for one person may not be for the next. The only person
really qualified to decide what is challenging for you-is you;
4) jobs are not designed specifically to challenge people. They are designed
to get the job done. It's up to individuals to create challenge in their work.
Keep Challenge Alive
How do you keep challenge
alive in your job? First, decide what challenges you. What are your most important
sources of challenge? Think of times when you felt challenged and write them
down. Look at your list and answer the following. Do you feel challenged by:
1) seeing the results of
2) solving problems;
3) implementing other peoples ideas;
4) knowing exactly what is expected and doing it;
5) knowing exactly what will happen in the future;
6) learning new skills and using them;
7) developing new ways of doing things;
8) getting involved with new things;
9) getting others involved in new things.
Challenge and the Bigger
Pay attention to what challenges
you and find a way to incorporate more of it. If this requires a job change
that is not feasible right away, than make it a part of your long-term vision.
In the meantime, find out what it takes to have these elements in your job and
decide how you will keep challenged. Write a three-year timeline. Consider involving
your manager so she can help you build your timeline.
What do you need to do to
get there? As you take these steps you are crystallizing your future vision
and making it real. Now deepen your understanding of the big picture. Draw out
your own company flow chart to trace where you fit in the organization. Then
diagram where your service affects others in the company, including customers
and suppliers. The more you understand how your role affects others and the
bigger picture, the more naturally motivated and challenged you will be.
Next, ask yourself how you
help customers to be more successful. Make this a core part of what you do.
Are you really serving others? Can you serve them more? Connect your role to
others in the company, customers and the community. This is critical to building
more challenging work. It gives you something meaningful to aim for and adds
Challenge and Meaning
When I speak at conventions
about creating meaning in work, I start off by asking a rhetorical question:
"What gives something meaning, besides the meaning we give it?" People usually
immediately nod their head in recognition. The neat thing about understanding
this is it gives license to make anything meaningful, from apparently mundane
tasks to the important ones. Meaning is created by each and every one of us,
whether we know it or not. Add meaning and challenge to your work by re-assessing
what you think and feel about the job. Take stock of what you do in a week.
Find ways to challenge yourself more with regular tasks:
1) do them faster;
2) do them with a certain intention in mind. (ie. doing paperwork with the intention
3) talk with others in the office and decide how they add challenge to specific
4) reframe your perspective. (ie. a realtor isn't just selling houses but helping
clients build a better future);
5) act as if every task you do, big or small, is really important. How can you
put everything into it?;
6) what are you most passionate about in your job? How can you find ways to
do more of this?
7) how can you have a child-like curiosity about your work?
Actively thinking about
what is challenging and meaningful to you will inspire purpose in your work.
Remember, the only person who can really give your job challenge is you. The
challenge is up to you!