Dear Dr. Graham:

I am lucky. I have a job that pays well and works well for my life. I can fulfill my office responsibilities and still have time to do the things that are important to me, like spending evenings with family, pursuing hobbies and traveling.

Since I know the next professional tier would require much longer hours and a lot more stress, I’m not necessarily interested in advancement. But I am starting to feel like I’m in a rut at work. How can I keep growing and learning while remaining in the same position?

Satisfied but Stale

Dear Stale,

Congratulations on securing a position that allows you to live the life you want to lead. And kudos too, for wanting to grow and learn. That combination opens many options for you. Here are some suggestions on how to explore them:

  • Spend time thinking about what’s most rewarding to you. Then find ways you can incorporate more of those rewarding experiences into your work. That’s the principle behind “Job Crafting,” a process of altering job description boundaries to make work more meaningful. Learn more about Job Crafting here:  Also, this link explains how workers — ranging from hospital janitorial staff to an illustrator we know as Dr. Seuss — have used Job Crafting to significantly impact their world:
  • Consider how you might apply Job Crafting concepts to your team. How can you explore a new potential area of interest by offering to help a peer in another department? Are there ways to trade some responsibilities with a coworker, allowing you to develop new skill sets?
  • Think about what you most appreciate about your leaders and/or coworkers. What are their most admirable character qualities? What can you learn from them that will help you improve your leadership style — and help you grow as a person?  Develop an action plan for growing these qualities while remaining in your current role.

Finally, give yourself permission to seek fulfillment outside of work. Personal growth doesn’t have to come from your job. Your current position may allow you to do more fulfilling away-from-work things than your colleagues are able to do. As I mentioned in a previous post, taking a course in something that interests you, listening to podcasts, watching TED talks, reading books outside your field, and other intentional efforts to broaden your perspective will help you grow, professionally and personally. Those who take an interdisciplinary approach to learning rarely feel bored, because they are able to apply what they’ve learned in one area to benefit other areas of their lives.

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