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How to Turn the Job You Have Into the Job You Want

Expecting someone to have dreamed up your ideal job is like expecting someone to read your mind.

Every three months, GOOD releases our quarterly magazine, which examines a given theme through our unique lens. Recent editions have covered topics like the impending global water crisis, the future of transportation, and the amazing rebuilding of New Orleans. This quarter's issue is about work, and we'll be rolling out a variety of stories all month.

Want the perfect job? We’ve got some bad news: Every job description in the entire world has been written by someone else. Expecting someone to have dreamed up your ideal job is like expecting someone to read your mind. The good news is that you can alter your job description and your working conditions in ways that will get you closer to a job you love. It doesn’t necessarily matter what you were hired for. Fundamentally, most employers want you to help them make money (or whatever the currency of your profession happens to be, but don’t fool yourself—it often comes back to money). Here’s how to turn the job you have into the job you want.
  • Think like an entrepreneur. What problems does your organization face? Maybe turnover is higher than for other players in your industry. Maybe you’re not getting much media coverage. Identify the needs and desires of your employer, and consider how you might be able to play a role in addressing them.

  • What do you love to do so much you would do it for free? Maybe you like community building. Maybe you love to cook. Maybe you like to stage puppet shows in the off hours. Offer to take on whatever you would like to be doing more of, regardless of whether it fits within your job title. If you love to write and you know your company is on the hunt for more media coverage, start a blog highlighting the organization’s achievements and send it around to your journalist friends.

  • Figure out your own schedule. If you are fortunate enough to work in a progressive, results-oriented job, take advantage of it by figuring out a schedule that works for you. Maybe you want to telecommute one day a week; maybe you want to take time off to volunteer; maybe you want to work eight to four instead of 10 to six. Just ask.

  • Take the initiative and be smart. Sometimes it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

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