The Good Work Book Blog
Transforming unsatisfactory work into a dream job
When people complain to me about their jobs they often describe their problems in general terms: the boss is unappreciative, the pay isn’t good enough, or colleagues don’t communicate adequately. They will often say that they are looking for a dream job, but find it difficult to describe what it would look like. This is when I find that identifying the flipside of their stated dissatisfactions is the surefire way to uncover want they really desire for work: appreciation for effort, adequate financial reward, or a working environment in which communication is clear, comprehensive and timely. Put in those terms, clients can usually describe how wonderful it would feel to have the relief and pleasure of such possibilities.
Using the flipside technique to discover one’s dreams is almost too easy. The real difficulty lies in how to bring these dreams into form. And this is where the generalized nature of dreaming for a better future has a great disadvantage; due to the inherent largeness of dreams, they often seem so distant or unlikely that they are abandoned as unrealistic or compromised until they lose their essence.
The trick to materializing dreams, however, is to move from the right brain imagining of beautiful possibilities to left-brain practicality. To do this, start by pinpointing the tangible examples of your generalized complaints. If the boss is unappreciative, how does her exact behaviours demonstrate that? Does she criticize and rarely praise? Is she unaware of the extra effort you have put in or the positive results of a project you have participated in? How many extra dollars do you need to make the pay ‘enough’? What small change in communication methods or style do you need to make your job easier?
Once you have identified how your dreams look like in practical terms, you are in position to turn them into goals that you can act upon. You can ask the boss to reflect on what aspects of your latest work she likes, or for a pay rise that moves you a little in the direction of the security you want. You ask a colleague what he needs from you that would help him communicate more effectively.
Unfortunately achieving dreams in this way does not appeal to the impatient self who wants a miracle to drop from the sky. It does not feel satisfied by a small improvement in matters. It forgets that nothing on earth is created that is not achieved by one small step followed by another one. Impatience undermines the persistence required to see real results.
More importantly, however, is the fear of taking responsibility for the small step. It is often scary to commit to asking for or creating a change. It needs courage and skill to speak up and to ask for what we want. Many fear being judged or even punished for asserting their needs. It also means knowing how to present our needs in a way that does not threaten the other person or violate their own needs. Usually it means persisting until we get what is rightfully ours. This is the reason why The Good Work Book provides so many techniques to make creating change easier and less stressful.
One step at a time is not glamorous. It can seem but a drop in the ocean of discontent but it is worth reminding oneself regularly that every time you manage to create a small positive change, the closer you are to achieving the conditions of life that are part of your bigger dreams.
And every time that happens, you have contributed to the making of a happier, safer or more effective world. Your own personal dreams, ordinary though they may appear, reflect wider human and spiritual yearnings. They are your own contribution to creating the kind of wider world we want: a working world of personal respect, security and interactive harmony. A world of Good Work.