Even if you feel great about your career right now, at some point you're likely to feel the need for a change. That's just a part of life. But if you play your cards right, you never need to reach a place where the desire for change is so strong that you feel compelled to upend everything and start over in something new.
What's the trick? Practice job sculpting. I think of it as a slow motion approach to career change.
When people look at their jobs, they typically have the impression, "Well, this is what it is. Either I suck it up and accept it for what it is, or I quit and find something new." But the reality is, most people's work is more malleable than they realize.
That perceived rigidity comes from two things. First, most people don't typically ask change-enabling questions. They don't seriously ask the question, "How could I change this to make it more appealing to me?" How could I change what I do, or how I do it? How could I change who I do it with?
The second reason for that perceived rigidity is that they forget to factor in the variable of time. They paint the future's potential based on what they are experiencing right now. But what may seem unchangeable in the here and now often becomes possible over time.
Think of career sculpting as guided evolution. Let's say you realize that one of the things you love doing is teaching people and sharing your knowledge. And let's also say that in your current role you don't get much of an opportunity to do that.
You could just relegate yourself to the fact that that is missing from the picture, or you could ask two questions. First, "How can I do more of this right now?" And second, "How can I do more of this in the future?"
You might recognize an opportunity to do it with that new hire who is trying to learn the ropes. Or you might recognize that there is something you are good at or knowledgeable about that the people you work with seem to have trouble with.
Maybe you're a genius with spreadsheets, or you have a gift for using mind maps for brainstorming. Or maybe you're really good at helping people think about how to communicate better. Those could all benefit the people you work with.
Your job sculpting could be either formal or informal. It could involve reshaping the work that is formally a part of your job description, or it could be something you do just because it gives you energy. Take teaching other people, for example. It might not have anything to do with your actual work, but you could become the informal go-to person, teaching people what you know and helping them learn it for themselves.
Any job has the potential for sculpting, whether it is a job you love or a job you loathe. Take a look at your current work. How could you start sculpting it today? How could you sculpt it over the long term?
Time for a career change? Launch it with...
The Occupational Adventure Guide:
A Travel Guide to the Career of Your Dreams
by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst