I work myself out of work

QUESTION MARKRecently I had a reader comment on a post about her experience with working. She obviously has a strong work ethic but has discovered that doesn’t always go in her favour. Here is what she said, “I have found that I complete not just that days work but also the next day of work. Therefore, I have always worked myself out of work. What can I possibly do to have a job with work every day and some weekends off?”

This is an interesting dilemma, one that I’m not sure has an easy answer without further understanding of your motivation to approach your job in this way. However, lets take a look from some different angles:

1. Lack of Challenge – Is it possible that you are in a position that isn’t challenging enough? Despite the lack of challenge maybe there are other perks that keep you with the company, like wages or close proximity to where you live etc. These perks can work well for awhile but there is a danger that even that doesn’t keep you interested and boredom replaces enthusiasm. So, this is a good question to ask yourself: Does this job provide me with the kind of challenge and stimulation I desire at this time in my life? If the answer is “No,” then it may be time to move on or ask for more responsibility.

2. Competitive – Is it your nature to compete? I have spoken with people who get a sense of accomplishment in their job by competing against their colleagues or themselves. Upon further investigation it often seems it is a one sided competition; with colleagues simply not understanding the purpose. Over confidence, lack of confidence or a drive to succeed, it doesn’t matter because the competitor wants to cross that finish line first. Competition is not a bad thing but it is helpful to know if this is the culture of the company you work for and not just your ego wanting to show others just how efficient you can be.

3. Need to please – Burn out can come quick if you don’t know how to say “No.” Your question doesn’t indicate stress from your work load but that doesn’t mean the need to please isn’t back there. Sometimes people can get a real satisfaction from taking it all on. No job is too big, delegation may not seem necessary and being fast and reliable can become something to exploit. If you are truly comfortable with all that you are taking on then there is no problem but if there comes a time when it seems like its all work and no play you may want to take a step back.

4. Your perfect work day – What does your perfect work day look like? From start to finish write down what that day would be. (Hours, tasks, location, people, size of organization etc.) Ask yourself if this job you are in right now is in any way a reflection of your perfect day. If it is then maybe you just need to slow down and smell the coffee. If it isn’t then it is time to do some research!

To have a job where you have work every day and some weekends off requires you to research the types of occupations that suit your needs. It is likely if you and I were talking personally that I would discover even more “must haves” on your list. Your values would come into play too with an emphasis, I suspect, on action, challenge and maybe even influence. For anyone who feels they are working themselves out of work, it can very well mean this job needs tweaking or eliminating. Either way you need to be prepared to take a hard look at what’s working and what’s not. Oh, and then gain the confidence to go for what’s next!

There are lots of layers to this but hopefully a couple of the points may prompt you to look deeper. Thanks for posing the question. If anyone else has career related questions email me and I will be happy to cover it in an upcoming post.

Photo: freedigitalphotos.net

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