No job is a perfect fit until you take ownership of it and make it your own. Just like buying a suit, you need to tailor it to fit you. Many people, sadly, never tailor their jobs to make them fit and end up being frustrated by their job due to lack of purpose.
In reality, most jobs are loosely defined enough that you can do substantial alterations to them, if not design major parts of them to meet your needs. It is what successful careers are built on: the art of tailoring your work to fit you and your sense of style.
A job design begins with having a clear sense of the goals of your job. Defining the goals of your job is like choosing the material of your new suit. The first step is answering key questions about the organization and your role within it:
- What is success for the organization?
- What goals will be hit in three to five years on the job?
- What transformation(s) will occur?
- What metrics will be key to measuring success?
With the organization's needs front of mind, you begin to cut and stitch the job together based on your unique needs. There are many ways to define your needs, but to design a job where you can thrive, you should to focus what brings purpose and fulfillment to your work. Designing to optimize purpose comes down to three principles:
- Deepen Relationships: What are different approaches that could help you build the relationships that matter to you within or outside the organization? For example, if you are in sales, how do you target a population that is where you want to build your network?
- Maximize Impact: How can you frame the goal(s) to align with what drives purpose for you? For example, if you find the most purpose in helping individuals achieve their goals, you can you frame your role to be about making an impact for those people. If you are driven by the gain and dispersion of knowledge, you can make research and learning the core of your approach. Defining the type of impact that gives you purpose starts with discovering your Purpose Pattern.
- Achieve Personal Growth: What form of growth is most important to you right now? Is it growth in building a network or gaining knowledge? Is it about overcoming fears or trying something new? Is it about mastering a skill? Articulating answers to these questions helps ensure that you grow the way that matters to you in your job.
If you and your manager can co-design your job based on your answers to these questions, you will have designed a job that has an incredibly high potential to be rich in purpose. Oh, and you will also likely achieve your manager's goals with flying colors.
Aaron Hurst is CEO of Imperative, a technology platform helping organizations build cultures alive with purpose. He is also the founder of the Taproot Foundation and author of The Purpose Economy. Follow him on twitter: @Aaron_Hurst.