Podcast: How to find more joy in the work you’re doing

The mind-money connection

Job crafting may be able to help you turn the job you have into a job you love.

 
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Bright Dickson (00:04):

Welcome to "Money and Mindset With Bright and Brian," we're here to help you build financial confidence and feel better. I'm Bright Dickson, a lifelong student and teacher of positive psychology. As always, I'm joined by my pal, financial wellness expert, Brian Ford. Hey, Brian.

Brian Ford (00:19):

Howdy.

Bright Dickson (00:20):

Today, Brian and I are talking about finding joy in what you do, because if we spend about half of our lives at work, it's important to get some fulfillment out of it. Brian, you ready to talk about turning the job you have into the job you love?

Brian Ford (00:32):

Let's go.

Bright Dickson (00:40):

Brian, question for you. When you were a kid and adults asked you what you wanted to do and to be when you grow up, how did you answer that question, and why did you answer it that way?

Brian Ford (00:51):

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a doctor. I thought the human body was fascinating, and I was never squeamish around blood. In fact, it reminds me, there was this '90s random channel on cable that would televise surgeries.

Bright Dickson (01:11):

Totally. I remember.

Brian Ford (01:13):

Yeah. I oddly enjoyed watching that from time to time. I wanted to be a doctor, and that's what I thought as I was growing up. But when I was around 20 years old, a family friend who was a doctor, Dr. Parkin, we got chatting one day, and I was asking him questions, I was excited. In that conversation, he simply asked me, he was like, "Brian, do you like being around sick people?" I was thinking about that and I'm like, "Not really." That question, along with a series of others, was really the beginning of shattering my dreams of becoming a doctor.

Brian Ford (01:52):

But Bright, when you were a little one and someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would you say?

Bright Dickson (02:00):

I would say first, I wanted to be a Carolina cheerleader because I thought that was a job. Then I wanted to be a lawyer. Neither of those things happened, but-

Brian Ford (02:12):

What?

Bright Dickson (02:12):

Yeah, yeah. Neither-

Brian Ford (02:14):

Cheerleader, by the way, that did not come out when we were prepping for this podcast. That's pretty awesome. We're going to circle back on that some other time, but OK. Attorney.

Bright Dickson (02:23):

I was recently reminded of it by finding something from my childhood, a random box, but yeah. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer because that's just sort of what ... I didn't really think about it, it just was what I thought I wanted to do. After college, I didn't really know what I wanted to do, so I was like, "OK, it's time for law school." I went and worked at a law firm for a couple years and really figured out that that was not it for me. I started thinking, all right, I mean, this was the time where everyone was advising people to follow your bliss and whatever and I was like, "OK, well, what do I really like doing?" And I narrowed it down to a couple of things.

Bright Dickson (03:04):

One of them was shopping and then I was like, that's an output, not an input, so that's not going to be it. The big one was that I worked at this camp and I took kids on canoe trips and I loved it and it was super fulfilling and I was a little bit addicted. I still volunteer for that camp. I was like, "What is it about that that I really love?" First I was like, "Oh, it must be in the outdoors." I was like, "No, it's not." I love the outdoors, but it's not exactly that. I figured out that it was this thing of taking people in one way and giving them a real and authentic experience of self-discovery and teamwork, and they came out different. They came out more themselves, they came out knowing their strengths.

Bright Dickson (03:50):

I was like, "Well, what is that? I don't know what field that is." I looked in education and then I, like any good millennial, I went to the internet to answer my question and I stumbled upon positive psychology, and long and winding road, here we are.

Brian Ford (04:06):

Nice.

Bright Dickson (04:06):

Yeah. That's kind of how things go. But the reason I'm telling this story for our podcast is that in that moment of asking myself, what do I really like to do, and boiling it down to what I found fulfilling and exciting and truly still do, that was my first experience in job crafting. What I was doing in my job wasn't for me so I needed to think differently about how I worked.

Bright Dickson (04:31):

Brian, I'm curious, have you ever had a moment like that where you really needed to take your job into your own hands and figure that out?

Brian Ford (04:38):

For sure. In fact, your question's kind of funny because I struggle to remember a moment when I didn't think of taking my job into my own hands. I guess, like in high school and my first few years of college, I'm pretty sure I took whatever job came my way, but after that, I always believed that my money-making potential represents one of my single largest assets, and beyond the money I wanted to do something that I was good at and could make a difference. So, Bright, along those lines, let's explore this idea of job crafting. Tell me more.

Bright Dickson (05:10):

Yeah. So, job crafting is a concept that comes from research done by Dr. Amy Rosinski at Yale and Jane Dutton at the University of Michigan. And it describes the proactive steps that employees can take to find more fulfillment and enjoyment in their jobs. And I think most working people have moments in their careers where they feel sort of that lack of fulfillment. Maybe they're not as interested in what they're doing anymore, and that can have a really negative impact on well-being.

Brian Ford (05:40):

Yeah, for sure.

Bright Dickson (05:42):

And conversely, when we find joy and fulfillment in our work, we experience a positive impact on well-being, and there are some financial benefits that can come with that too. Right, Brian?

Brian Ford (05:51):

Yeah, absolutely. When we get a sense of fulfillment out of work, we tend to perform better, which can then lead to promotions, raises, doors being opened. But here's the big question, Bright. How can our listeners find joy in what they do? That's a big question, but how can we actually do it?

Bright Dickson (06:09):

Yeah. How do we do it? So there are three big areas to consider in job crafting. And I think of them as leverage points for getting more out of your job. So one is around tasks and how you do them. The second is around relationships and how you invest in them, the kinds of relationships you have in your job. And the third is about your mindset, right? And how you think about the meaning of those tasks and relationships. So if you're feeling a little blah about your job right now, stay tuned, we are going to help you out.

Brian Ford (06:51):

Bright, as you're talking about job crafting, it reminds me of a principle we discuss all the time on the show, which is controlling what you can control. You know, it seems like yet another opportunity to find deeper ways of exerting control where and when we can.

Bright Dickson (07:08):

Agreed, Brian. Job crafting really is about exerting autonomy, that control piece in the way you approach your job. So the things you do and the other people you work with and how you spend your time. But before we do that, I just want to say job crafting is not the be-all end-all, sometimes we actually need to change jobs and that's OK. That's part of a career. The other thing is that there is no such thing as a perfect job, and all of us are going to have parts of our job that we love and parts that we do not.

Bright Dickson (07:38):

So for me, I love all the parts of my job that have me connecting with other people, helping them with their problems, sharing solutions, talking about complicated ideas. I love all of that. The parts of my job that I don't love are administrative tasks, navigating bureaucracy, stuff like that. I do not think I'm unique in that opinion. But this idea of job crafting helps me do those kinds of tasks, because I know that those details facilitate the parts of my job that I love to do. So that helps me get a little more control. Does that ring any bells with you, Brian? How does that go for you?

Brian Ford (08:13):

Yeah, totally. I appreciate you saying that because while today's episode is about getting more satisfaction out of your job, and right now there's a lot of opportunity out there, I also think sometimes we just need to do what we need to do to take care of our families financially. So I'm glad we're kind of being for real for a minute. I agree with you that every position it's going to have its pros and cons, but by job crafting, we want to accentuate the pros and even create some more pros. So tell me more about the task, relationship, and mindset leverage points. I really want to learn more about each of them.

Bright Dickson (08:51):

Let's start with the task crafting piece. So this is basically about finding ways to better align your strengths and interests with the tasks you do at work. So it's about the how of doing your job. So in order to task craft, you need to be really clear on two things. So one, what are the major tasks within your role, and two, what are your strengths and interests? The tasks you do should be pretty clear already, I kind of group mine into themes, like content creation, coaching, strategic planning, the admin stuff, et cetera, et cetera. But they'll more than likely be different depending on your work. So that's a little different for everybody. The strength and interest part may require a little bit more introspection. So interests are usually indicated by a natural curiosity about a process or a subject, so it's sort of whatever's piquing that curiosity, making you ask those questions, really making you kind of lean over and be like, what is that?

Bright Dickson (09:48):

And strengths are the combination of what you're good at and what brings you energy. So both at the same time. And I think often we think of strengths as like just what we're good at, but there are some things that I'm good at that I don't have that much energy around, I just kind of happen to be good at them. So your strengths are both at the same time. And task crafting is about arranging and editing your tasks as much as you can, what's within your control, to match more of your interests and strengths. And that might mean taking on more tasks or fewer tasks, right? Changing the type of tasks you do, or the scope of those tasks, or just switching up how and when you do those tasks.

Brian Ford (10:29):

I like it. That makes perfect sense. So, we can better align our tasks with our interests and strengths. Got it. OK. So let's talk about relationships. How can you job craft relationships? This one's interesting to me. I remember you teaching us on an earlier episode that we can't control people. So how does this work?

Bright Dickson (10:52):

Yes. Sad, but true. We cannot control other people. So that said, we also know that strong relationships are key to well-being and also to success in our work. And I don't know about you, Brian, but a lot of my friends that are my very close friends now, I actually met through work in the past and I feel really close and I'm friends with the people I work with now.

Brian Ford (11:15):

Yep. I can say the same thing, absolutely. A couple relationships come to mind where I'm like, "Ah, so grateful for them." Good friends. And they came through work.

Bright Dickson (11:23):

Yeah. And when you boil it down too, right, most jobs are just people doing people things for and with other people. So the vast majority of jobs are people-oriented. In crafting your relationships, you want to take a good look at the relationships that are bringing you growth and fulfillment and pursue those while also understanding where you might need to draw some boundaries. So really the relationship crafting is about getting really thoughtful about the relationships you have and pursuing new relationships you want. So there's a bit of push-pull here since we don't choose the people we work with in the same way we might choose our friends, right? But sometimes the people you work with become your friends and that's a strong relationship.

Brian Ford (12:10):

Yeah. Simple enough. So as we dig a little deeper here, what kinds of relationships should we pursue relative to our work relationship crafting?

Bright Dickson (12:19):

So, you want to pursue relationships that do one, or both, hopefully, of two things. So, relationships that are energizing and relationships that help you grow. So keep in mind that energy and growth don't necessarily mean that you're always comfortable. So really, being comfortable all the time can create stagnation, which is really the opposite of what we want here. So take stock of the relationships you already have and ask if they're bringing you energy and/or growth. You'll find that some don't and you have to keep them anyway to complete the tasks of your job. That's normal. And you can still use those to grow your comfort zone. They're not negatives, necessarily.

Brian Ford (13:02):

Yeah. And in fact, I would even say that that is the part of growth. Just throwing something in there as I think of a few relationships that maybe don't energize me or, or help me grow, I'm thinking, well, maybe that is an opportunity for growth. Just throwing something out there, for me, at least.

Bright Dickson (13:22):

There's something to learn in there for sure. And the crafting part of it, though, comes in, when you shift more of your time and effort to the relationships that do create energy for you and growth for you. So it's really about being intentional around how you're pursuing and whom you are pursuing.

Brian Ford (13:40):

So, relationship crafting, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to drop important work relationships, it's more about strengthening your investment in the relationships that give back in the form of energy and growth. Am I right on?

Bright Dickson (13:56):

Yeah, absolutely. And you need to make it reciprocal, right? Give as much as you get. And that's where the energy comes from, right? The energy really comes from the giving, and that energy can shift your mindset, which just might be the most important and impactful leverage point in job crafting. So we'll talk about that and the how-to's of job crafting in a couple minutes. But Brian, you've written about maximizing your career from both a financial and personal standpoint, and you said that creating value for others is one of the best ways to improve your well-being from those angles. Can you explain a little bit more about that and why it makes sense?

Brian Ford (14:33):

Yeah. I'm excited about this episode because I spend most of my time teaching people how to manage their money. However, today we're chatting about how we make that money. We should put as much forethought, time, care into managing our career as we put into managing the rest of our financial health, and what we're talking about, it's not only going to help us feel more satisfied at work, but job crafting is also linked to higher performance, and higher performance can lead to more money. OK, so, you asked me how creating value for others is really one of the best ways to improve your job. So essentially, I define the amount of value you bring to your job as your VQ or value quotient. The more value you bring to the marketplace, be it customers, your team, the bottom line, the better, and you're going to enjoy your job more and receive higher pay.

Brian Ford (15:29):

So the question becomes, how do we grow our VQ? I've identified four main areas. Number one, career development; two, networking and mentorships; three, continuing education; and four, leadership training. So let me briefly touch on each one of these. So first we start out with career development. That's a big world. I know that. But as we dug into this and did a little research, we realized that people who grow their career, there was something that they were doing and a way in which they were acting at work that was different from others. So that's kind of what I want to hone in just for a minute.

Bright Dickson (16:06):

Yeah. What is that? What were they doing?

Brian Ford (16:09):

They were thinking like an owner. They were thinking like they owned the company in which they worked for and they acted that way in their meetings and the way that they ... well, I'll say crafted their job and their tasks and their relationships and so forth. And so Bright, I'll throw this out there to you. What's on the mind of owners? What are they thinking about? And how do we think more like an owner? What's your off-the-cuff answer there?

Bright Dickson (16:33):

My off-the-cuff answer would be that they're thinking about the big picture. They're thinking about the biggest picture possible, but they're also thinking about the details.

Brian Ford (16:43):

Yeah. I like it. They are. That's exactly right. It's not just, am I going to this meeting? It's, what's the purpose of this meeting? Where's it going to go? How does this help us innovate? How does this help us be more profitable? And so forth. Thinking very customer-oriented is another one. So again, career development, think like an owner. The second one is networking and mentorships. And the one thing I'll mention here that stood out to me is that we all get excited about people following us on Instagram, friends on Facebook, how many folks you're connected with on LinkedIn. But what we found is that quality over quantity really mattered here. So I'll throw this out there. I mean, you've got a lot of connections, but how many of those would actually pick up a phone call from you? Like during a meeting?

Brian Ford (17:29):

Or would they even recognize your phone number? So what I would suggest is taking some of these online connections offline. Connect with these folks, get to know them, learn about them, take them to lunch. And once you start to learn about them, you can start to serve them and relationships then grow. And so remember quality over quantity. The third one is continuing education. We know there's a direct correlation between growing one's VQ or the value they bring to the marketplace and the amount of education they have. And I'll say that both formal and informal matters. We know what formal is, let's go get the certificate, the degree, that's important, but also informal. Maybe you finished your degree; what book are you going to read next? What online publication will you subscribe to? That type of thing, keep learning. And then the last one is leadership training.

Brian Ford (18:18):

And this one is the most important, it's what it shows basically that leaders across the board have a higher VQ. And it's not that they were born leaders, it's that they grew their leadership skills and then their VQ went up. There really isn't a segment of society that doesn't get better as we have better leaders. And so, that's important, and I'll just say the gist of leadership, if you can break it down real quick is, if we come to work, Bright, and you do a good job, you show up on time, you work hard, you deliver value for our company, which is Truist, that's worth a certain amount of money, and you'll get paid for that. But when you can show up and you can motivate, help, coach like five other dudes to do the same thing … and oh, by the way, Bright, I think you know me by now, like, dudes is definitely-

Bright Dickson (19:10):

Dude is gender neutral. Yeah.

Brian Ford (19:11):

Totally gender neutral. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. If you remember my wife, when we got married, she was like, Brian, you got to stop calling me dude. And I was like, dude, it's not going to happen.

Bright Dickson (19:22):

I'm pretty sure I called my boss dude the other day, I'm pretty sure that happened.

Brian Ford (19:25):

Oh, nice. I like it. So yeah, you show up to work, you're doing your thing, but you can motivate a bunch of other people to do the same thing and create value? That's worth even more. So as we think of growing our VQ, we can think of those four areas. Think like an owner, career development; networking and mentorships, quality over quantity; continuing education, that's really both formal and informal; and then leadership training, really take control of what type of a leader you are at work. So there's a little on VQ. But, so, we've covered the first two ways to job craft with tasks and relationships. And in our last segment, we will discuss the third. Stay with us.

Brian Ford (20:17):

All right, Bright, we've talked about task crafting and relationship crafting. What's the last way our listeners can get more joy out of what they do?

Bright Dickson (20:27):

So, the last part is about getting our mind right. So if we can shift our ideas about our jobs, the way we think about our jobs, that can be a really powerful way to find a little more joy or contentment, fulfillment in our day to day. So it's really about the shift from task orientation, what I'm doing, to impact orientation, so what is the effect that has? And I think that's like analogous in many ways to the value quotient, Brian. So shifting your mindset to really understand and embrace the bigger picture of your job, how it helps other people and the world, lets you put the tasks of your job, the emails, the spreadsheets, the meetings, all that stuff into a context that really matters. We all need to know that who we are and what we do matters. But sometimes we get caught up in all the little details, I mean, I'm guilty of this for sure, and the tasks, that we don't take a hard look at the bigger picture. So really understanding the impact of our work brings us energy, brings well-being.

Brian Ford (21:31):

Yeah, completely agree. So what are some strategies we can use to shift our mindsets?

Bright Dickson (21:35):

So my favorite strategy always is curiosity. I see curiosity as both a skill and a strategy. So ask yourself some questions. I really like using the starter of what does my work create for, dot, dot, dot, and like fill in the blank with different groups. So what does my work create for my family, which I think is a really important one. What does my work create for my team? What does my work create for my customer? Get creative with it, find all those little groups that your work touches and really understand what's that impact. And also Brian, you know that I love to talk about gratitude, and that totally plays in here. So make a list of what you're grateful for about your job. It's a really good practice for many reasons. One of them, a huge one, is that practicing gratitude really helps you see the good that's already there that we often overlook because of our wiring and our negativity bias that we all have. So it can help you answer some of those bigger questions and understand what's most meaningful to you, which is the leverage point for you.

Brian Ford (22:42):

I loved that last little section. What does my work create for dot, dot, dot? My family, my team, maybe society at large. I like that. I'm going to have to give that a little bit more thought. And then I agree with you, gratitude is always a good thing. Not only should we be doing that kind of from an introspection standpoint, but I think we need to share that more often with others, with our family and so forth. Too often I think we're griping about things, sometimes even our jobs, because it can be hard. They're tough. It's stressful. But as we look for that gratitude, we share it with others, it just kind of snowballs. I like that. All right. So you were talking about looking at the bigger questions. So speaking of bigger questions, I've got one for you, let's say that you want to do some job crafting, but you've got a boss.

Bright Dickson (23:29):

Sure do.

Brian Ford (23:30):

What do you know? And your boss tells you what to do, so you've got to do that, right? But how do you job craft, if you aren't totally in charge of what you do and how you do it?

Bright Dickson (23:40):

Yeah. This is such a good question, Brian, and I think this is the reality for most of us, you and me included. We have a boss, we work within a structure for a bigger purpose, and we don't get to completely self-determine. And I think actually that this is where job crafting can be the most helpful because it lets us see into the little like nooks and crannies of our jobs where we can exert more autonomy and control.

Brian Ford (24:08):

Mm, nooks and crannies.

Bright Dickson (24:10):

Nooks and crannies. Right? We've all got little nooks and crannies in our jobs, where we've got tiny leverage points and it's about looking for those. So I just want to say too, that job crafting is not a single event, right? It's not something that you're going to put on your calendar and like do for an hour. Like, "Here's where I job crafted." It's something we should be doing all the time, just like leadership development. It's a skill. It's helpful to sort of constantly be job crafting. Start with the mindset piece. It all comes from your mindset. You're going to get more out of crafting your tasks and relationships if you do that mindset piece first and then consistently over time. So ask yourself those questions, shift into the bigger picture. That'll help you see all of those nooks and crannies, but also the bigger parts of your job that you might have gotten a little complacent about, because that happens, and then look at how you want to grow.

Bright Dickson (25:07):

So this is kind of the self-determination piece. Job crafting is a lot about, all right, what do I want? How do I want to grow? What direction do I want to grow in? Do I need to pick up a skill? Do I need to have better boundaries? What are the things that I need to do to get more out of my job? And then talk to your manager or your boss about it, right? This is a conversation between people. Most jobs are about people things, doing people things with other people, right? If you need to shift some of your tasks, make suggestions about how to do that and still get the work done. Right? Don't just put it on their plate to figure out, this is yours to figure out. Be willing to have some back and forth. There's no one answer to this. Compromise is good. But open it up as an ongoing conversation, and any good manager will see that this is actually you wanting to engage more deeply with your job and that's a good thing for them and for the organization.

Bright Dickson (26:02):

And now Brian, actually, as I'm saying this, I'm seeing a few nooks and crannies in my own work that could probably use some crafting. Are you seeing anything for yourself?

Brian Ford (26:11):

Yep. I'm sitting here taking this all in. This is great. I feel like I need to spend more time doing what I'm good at and enjoy and that brings value to the bank. And for me, that's being in front of people, it's training, it's helping them get in a better place financially. And I'll say that my current manager already does a pretty good job with me. I feel like in my one on one, he's the one who's bringing this up and saying, "Brian, what are you doing, doing that over there? Like, we got to get you doing this." It's me that's usually getting in my own way and taking on tasks and things that I really shouldn't be doing, because I want to be a good, whatever, Boy Scout, great employee, on every team, sign up for things. And I need to get better at gracefully saying no to things that I'm not really good at, and that don't bring the most value based on kind of my skill sets.

Bright Dickson (27:03):

Same here.

Brian Ford (27:04):

Yeah. I'll also say I want to better connect with some of the mundane administrative aspects of my job with the bigger picture of helping people, because that's always going to be there, but I think I can make better connections there. So look, Bright, this has been good, it's certainly been helpful for me. I think we've covered it as far as job crafting goes. I really enjoyed our conversation today. Thank you.

Bright Dickson (27:34):

Thanks for listening to this episode of "Money and Mindset With Bright and Brian." For future episodes, we want to know your questions about not just your career, but any aspect of your financial or mental well-being. We are here to discuss. So send your questions or topic ideas to AskBrightAndBrian@truist.com.

Brian Ford (27:54):

And if you liked this episode, subscribe to the podcast on the platform of your choice or send it to someone you care about. Keep an eye out for our next episode to release soon.

Introduction

Work to live, or live to work? No matter where you fall on that spectrum, most of us seek some degree of fulfillment from our careers. And even if you personally love your job, research suggests only 34% of U.S. workers are engaged in their work.Disclosure 1

How can we get more satisfaction—or even joy—out of our jobs? In this episode, Bright and Brian give you tips for “job crafting”—proactively taking steps to find fulfillment in your work life.

Tune in to hear:

  • Three ways to get more fulfillment and enjoyment from your job
  • Why it’s important to create value for others (Pro tip: It can help you earn more $$$)
  • How to strengthen your positive work relationships—and set boundaries for ones that drain you
  • Strategies to shift your attitude toward work for the better

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This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial, investment, or mental health advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial, investment, mental health professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.