What do you really want? It’s often only when you’ve finally grown up that you get to discover what it is that you really want from the job that has taken over your identity.
It’s similar to asking yourself what you want from a relationship – quite a crucial question in fact, and one that would be worth the time spent before we just jump into the arms of a promising-looking/feeling/sounding person. Yet what do we normally do? Go with the flow, lose ourselves in the excitement of the chase, and become blind to the pitfalls of ignoring our heart’s desires. Such is our need to be accepted (read ’employed’), that we go all out to please and to fit in with the company, afraid to accept that the job should be satisfying our needs too, and not just the other way round.
A change of focus
Asking yourself what you want from work is a different focus to the usual question of what kind of job you want. It’s not what you’re doing, so much as what you’re giving and getting in return. It is the feeling of satisfaction that you derive, a feeling that is not specific to any job. It is more than simply what you do it is the value you derive from your job and your interaction with colleagues and clients. It can be what you have contributed, achieved, or simply how you have carried out your duties.
Nor are we talking about goal-setting as such. ‘Wants’ may be intangible when they are concepts such as: security, challenge, prestige, power. Your wants are that which gives you dignity. A cleaner may enjoy having immediate, visual results of her labour, and an immediate cash payment too. A gardener may enjoy the preparation and planning that enables beauty to flower in the future.
A clear vision
Blessed are those who have a clear vision of what they want from a job. ‘I want a uniform, a title, Lm100 a week, respect and clear instructions to follow.’ For the majority, we wake up to the reality of work life after a few years on the job, and soon learn what it is we don’t want. Your needs and desires change over time and you simply do not want the same things you wanted as a young adult.
In an ideal world
Knowing what you want, means giving yourself the permission to be yourself. Most people don’t dare to talk about what they really want as compared to what they have been told they should want. Sometimes you would gladly sacrifice the little wants for your big desire. Dream a little. What would you do if you had no obstacles?
Let’s be clear about one thing: ‘wants’ are not necessarily ‘needs’, although they can overlap. ‘Needs’ are the very non-negotiable basics that should be identified and dealt with first. Most workers need to: Earn wages that will enable them to pay for basic necessities and additional luxuries such as the purchase of a home, or travel; Save for and enjoy old age security benefits; Have medical and other insurance coverage; Acquire friends at work; Win recognition; Be acknowledged and rewarded for special efforts and contributions; Be able to advance in life and career-wise; Have opportunities for self-development; Improve skills, knowledge, and know-how; Demonstrate and use special gifts and abilities; Realize their ideal(s). By all means use this list to check whether your needs are being met at your present place of work.
‘Wants’ are the motivating factors that (good) advertising execs know so much about. A person’s inner drives push and propel him/her towards an employer, a particular job, a career. How is it that you want to feel at work, after a day’s work, as well as looking back at your life? This is similar to the exercise of writing your own obituary – how do you want to be remembered?
Stop blaming your circumstances
George Bernard Shaw said that ‘people are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.’
Succeeding takes work
What is it that sums up success for you? You may be a teacher, but what you specifically want from the work is the hours, salary, time off and respect that come with the role. If you are a writer, self-expression may be your primary focus, or else being controversial. Looking at what you want is much more specific, and in no way less daunting a task, than perhaps the choice of career for a fifteen-year-old. Having a clear idea of what it is that you want from a job – both the ideal situation and the non-negotiable factors – will increase your chances of fulfilment. No-one needs to be reminded that we spend more time at work than we do at home, so that satisfying your desires in this sector will lead to overall happiness.
Why aren’t you getting what you want? It is only when you have identified and then realized your dreams and potential, reaching the heights of your gifts and talents, that you are morally, emotionally, and even physically ready to satisfy the needs of the employer and the customers.
Identifying your wants will also help to identify those careers that may seem to be dissimilar, yet will offer you the same rewards. It will also open up new avenues that you might never have thought about.
What aspects of a job make you smile? A middle-aged teacher realised that it was the giving of information that he enjoyed in his work, so that when he felt like a change, he could move on to becoming a tourist guide. He had learned early in his career that when working in an information bureau, that simply handing out leaflets had given him a strange satisfaction. ‘To me, giving information is like helping people find their treasure. I’ve also considered becoming a librarian and compiling directories. Now I can pinpoint my choices, and carry my experience through to different jobs’
So what if you need a helping hand to pinpoint what it is that you want from a job? Maybe you’d like a change, but are having difficulty in assessing your desires. We’ve spoken previously about childhood conditioning not allowing us to even say ‘I want’, never mind using your desires to plan your life!
What is it that would really make you happy? Make lists. Discover what motivates you, then go for the biggest want on your list prior to seeking your new job. During the next five years, what would give you the most satisfaction? After you’ve chosen your wants, quantify them. How will you know that you’ve achieved them? Make it a goal with specific results so that you’ll know when you’ve achieved it. If you go to an interview and say that you want ‘a low-stress job in beautiful surroundings, be your own boss, where you are respected by your colleagues and given the chance to be creative’ that might not work well for you. The employer wants to know that you are reliable, hardworking, trustworthy and that they can get their money’s worth.
Employees have expectations from their employer too – they expect: a knowledgeable, experienced, expert employer; clear and fair policies, procedures, and employment practices; business integrity; clear job descriptions; two-way communications; effective management and supervision; positive discipline; good company repute; good customer relations; company survival; opportunities for personal growth; company growth and a share in the company’s success.
You cannot walk into the office Monday morning and demand changes from all and sundry. Keep your list of wants to yourself, while doing what you can to achieve them. Be objective yet courageous. You never know what you can get from management if your request is reasonable. Do what you can in terms of long- and short-term control.
We must acknowledge ourselves as human beings with individual needs, drives, characteristics, personalities, and acknowledge our own contribution to the business success. Here’s a positive note from Helen Keller to set you in motion: ‘One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar’.
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