Welcome to Digital Homesteading.
This collection of resources from 9 Clouds helps you build your business and community.
What if I told you that you could find your dream job — at your current job?
No, I’m not talking about searching for local job openings at your desk. (Sorry.)
I’m talking about taking ownership of your current position to help you discover your perfect niche. I’m talking about learning what you love about your work — as well as what you don’t — and then capitalizing on those preferences.
I’m talking about creating your dream job, using the tools already available in your office.
Read on to learn how I have found incredible job satisfaction by carving out my own dream job here at 9 Clouds.
1. Try Everything Once
“Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.”
As a longtime picky eater, I’ve heard this phrase once or twice. My dad likes to tell the story of when I ordered fettuccine Alfredo when I was about five, took one look at the green parsley sprinkled on top, and told the waiter, “I think I’ll have the hot dog.”
As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve realized that you actually do need to try things before you decide you dislike them. As it turns out, I like parsley — and even a few other green things! Imagine that.
The same saying goes for your work. If the idea of doing something offends you, don’t discount it right off the bat. You never know what tasks you might enjoy.
To be honest, when I first took this job at 9 Clouds, I wasn’t sure whether I’d love it. As a creative writing major in college and a freelance writer since, I wondered if working at a marketing company would be up my alley — I’d never taken a business class in my life, let alone held a position in digital marketing.
But as I applied and interviewed for the role of creative content specialist at 9 Clouds, I realized my skills and passions were aligned with the company’s. I still didn’t feel fully “qualified” in the sense that I didn’t have a digital marketing background, but I felt comfortable that I could both learn the industry and bring something of my own to the table.
Almost a year and a half later, I am completely confident in my role here. It took some time, but I’ve grown into it. I actually consider myself a marketer now, not just a writer.
But none of this would have been possible if I’d knocked it before I tried it.
2. Decide What You Love (and What You Don’t)
After you’ve tried everything once, then you can decide what you like (and what you don’t).
The beautiful thing about business is that everyone has different tastes. Even if both you and a coworker love to write, you might prefer to write different types of content. Be open with your colleagues about what you prefer to work on; you might be able to swap responsibilities if your superiors approve.
Your preferences might surprise you. For instance, before taking this job, I thought I would enjoy social media more than I do. I also thought I would hate meetings more. Over time, I’ve been able to determine my favorite (and not-so-favorite) parts of my job, so I can try to focus my efforts on the things that excite me.
Try not to let any preconceptions influence your work. It’s okay if you still don’t like parsley after dipping your fork in the fettuccine Alfredo. But don’t assume you’re going to hate it just because it’s green.
Also, remember that in any position, there are going to be tasks you have to complete that you just don’t want to. That can suck sometimes, but if you play your cards right, you can hopefully minimize those over time. Which brings me to . . .
3. Ask for What You Want
Once you know what you want out of your job, ask for it.
Seriously. Don’t be afraid to walk right up to your boss and ask to be put in charge of X. More often than not, they’ll say yes. I should know — it happened to me!
Toward the end of last year, I’d grown slightly frustrated with our editorial process for our 9 Clouds blog. All of us were writers, and all of us were editors, so there was little consistency (and much mismanagement of time).
Since I love to edit, I asked my bosses if I could become the sole blog editor. It would mean less time for me to devote to client work, but I knew it would make our blog better, and that was a priority we all shared. So guess what — I got the position!
My coworker Sara did the same sort of thing. She loves data and digital advertising, so she asked to become our resident Google AdWords expert. Since 9 Clouds needed someone to specialize in that area, our head honchos agreed, and she was able to both decrease the duties she didn’t like and increase the ones she did. A win-win for all involved!
The key to these shifts in job responsibilities is that they were both beneficial to the business. As much as I might wish otherwise, you can’t request to become the Official Harry Potter Reader at your company (unless, say, your company happens to be a Harry Potter fan club. In which case I’m extremely jealous).
In the end, it’s all about finding a role that makes both you and your superiors happy.
Find the gaps at your workplace — and then fill them.
4. Work How You Work Best
Sometimes it’s not about what you’re working on, but how you’re working on it.
The way you work can be essential to your job satisfaction. If you’re a millennial like me who values flexibility at work, you could feel cooped up in a bland little cubicle every single day. If you’re someone who needs peace and quiet to concentrate, you could feel overwhelmed in an open-concept work environment.
Some of these factors can’t be changed; it’s not like you can ask your boss to reconstruct your office or anything. But if your company is accommodating, you might be able to ask for something else.
Do you focus best at home, away from distractions? Ask if you can work remotely from time to time. Do you have a furry friend that needs to be let out at lunch? See if you can bring your pet to work on Fridays.
Whatever you need to do your best work, communicate that to your superiors. They’ll probably appreciate your desire to improve your own performance. If they’re skeptical (or even if they’re not), you may need to prove yourself in some way — don’t expect to have complete control over your work environment.
Again, it’s all about asking. You may think getting autonomy at work is a long shot, but you never know until you try!
5. Keep Looking Up
So now you’ve taken ownership of your position and found your dream job at your company. You’re all set, right?
Well, you might be satisfied with your position now — and that’s great. No need to fix something that’s not broken.
But it’s important you don’t become complacent. After all, complacency could be why you’re reading this post in the first place. It’s the enemy of any dream job.
To achieve true job satisfaction, you have to be ready to move around a bit. If you aren’t developing as a professional, you’ll burn out. In fact, a lack of opportunities for growth at work is one of the main reasons employees quit their jobs.
Don’t be one of them.
Your company will continue to have gaps, and you will continue to want to fill them. So don’t shy away from that. Keep looking for areas in which you can transform your current job into your dream job.
Want More Stuff Like This?
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy some of our other articles on workplace happiness.
We like our jobs at 9 Clouds. We make time for passion projects, we try new things, we hang out with each other. We understand we’re all different, and we try to honor those differences by leveraging our individual strengths.
If those are principles you can stand behind, I encourage you to download our Guide to Business Productivity. It uses examples from our own work environment to show you how to increase your job satisfaction and get more shiz done at work.