How To Make Work More Fun
Choosing a career: Which careers would you find fun? Here are some careers that many fun-centric people enjoy: pyrotechnician, personal shopper, nanny, professional organizer, winemaker or beer brewer, makeup artist, sports coach, nightclub manager, musical instrument maker, store merchandiser, sports announcer, garden designer, graphic designer, art director, personal trainer, motivational speaker, florist, midwife, pet store manager, dog trainer/sitter/walker, cruise director, hair stylist, maitre 'd, game store owner, model, bartender, car designer, clown, videographer, fashion designer, DJ/karaoke emcee, video game creator, pilot, magician, park ranger, photographer, voice actor, wedding cake baker, writer and performer. Alas, trying to land a decent-paying job in sought-after careers might not be so much fun.
Getting trained: Some people love taking classes at universities or through professional associations -- being around fellow students, listening to lectures, doing homework. Others have more fun learning with a tutor or on their own. How about you?
networking is more painful than a cramp, while for others, networking feels like play time. For some, just the thought of cold-calling triggers a panic attack while for others, it's as easy as breathing: "The worst they can do is turn me down." People who enjoy writing may find it fun to craft masterful responses to a want ad while others develop an incurable case of writer's block.
I suspect that no job search method will trigger paroxysms of ecstasy but what approach to job searching would you find most pleasurable or at least minimally odious? Maybe you'd find it fun to think of the whole job search as like a video game: Sure, you'll get "killed" a lot but eventually you'll get the hang of the game, enjoy the process, and in the end, win.
Tweaking your job description: Think of your job description as an off-the-shelf suit. It won't fit perfectly unless you tailor and accessorize it. Sure there are limits but, usually, if you make the case to your boss that a tweaked job description would play to your strengths and interests and make you more productive, you may be able make a humdrum job more fun. Similarly, might you have discretion over what sort of project to take on? For example, If you enjoy photography and talking with people, you might ask your boss if you could interview each person in your workgroup and post a bio of them and their photo on your organization's website or corkboard.
Tackling on-the-job tasks: You tend to procrastinate, dreading not-fun tasks. Might it help to ask yourself: "What's a fun way to do it?" Maybe you can do a simpler version of the task -- the perfect can be the enemy of the good. Or maybe you'd find it fun to set a timer and see how much you can get done in 20 minutes.
Reading this article may reinforce your self-concept as a fun-centric person. Or it could make you decide to moderate that. What do you think?
Figuring out how to make your work tasks more fun or deciding that you need to accept more unpleasantness in the service of larger goals can be key not only to improving your professional life but your personal one.
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The San Francisco Bay Guardian called Dr. Nemko "The Bay Area's Best Career Coach" and he was Contributing Editor for Careers at U.S. News where he now also blogs. His sixth and seventh books were published in 2012: How to Do Life: What They Didn't Teach You in School and What's the Big Idea? 39 Disruptive Proposals for a Better America. More than 1,000 of his published writings are free on www.martynemko.com. He posts here weekly.
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