A motivational look at contracting - Part 2

In Part 2 of this article, let's look at how we might flip our approach to work, to make it even more enjoyable and productive. In a nutshell, how to make your work, work for you!

To begin with, it's worth saying that there is a fairly prevailing mindset among some perm staff, that if the job is boring, or opportunities are thin on the ground, or the training is scant, then this is all the company's fault and the employee has every right to moan and resent every waking minute of being there.

Now, despite contractors enjoying the benefit of a psychological "distance" that playing the contractor role affords, this does not make them completely immune to the victim mentality outlined above. They too complain about aspects of the job, which they dislike and deeply resent.

For you, if your contract is not panning out, as you'd like, what can you do about it?

One approach is to propose changes (to the company) in certain aspects of our contract, perhaps under the guise of "Project Improvement". On the other hand, we can always flip our approach of looking outside ourselves for change, and asking: "Wait a minute, what about me? What do I want from this contract? What are my needs and desires? What's in this for me?"

Look at it this way: On a typical contract, you spend around 8 hours a day, for 5 days a week, working on a project: 40 hours. Your contract description outlines roles and responsibilities. Day-to-day you may have your work monitored by a Manager. This defines the Company Game that you agreed to play when you signed the contract.

Now, if we stand well back and widen our scope for a moment, we might look at our contract as a feature on the landscape of our life. We might ask ourselves what this contract might be a stepping stone towards? What direction is our life going in? What's our purpose? What are our plans? Where do we intend to be in 3, 6, 9 months time?

Armed with this information, we can begin to assess our contract more strategically and wonder, "Given that my aim is to go in that direction in this timeframe, how might I use these 40 hours a week to support that?"

In a nutshell, you are choosing to play Your Bigger Game, inside of which lies the Company Game.

Why this approach? Because we are naturally self-motivated when we bring it back to ourselves and ask ourselves what our own needs are. It gives our work the meaning and purpose that was missing when we focussed only on the company's needs to the detriment of our own.

Working from this angle, not only is the work more enjoyable, we find it much more fulfilling for the fact of doing it for ourselves! In reaping the significant benefits of our new approach, it's often quite natural to feel some gratitude for the "company" for providing us with such a wonderful opportunity to move forward.

In this way, both you AND the company win from enjoying a more positive and self-motivating approach to work.

Another angle on this approach is to ask ourselves: "What quality or skill would I truly like to develop?"

It might be confidence, determination, enjoyment, interpersonal communication, focus, presentation, report writing, organisation, time management, persistence, networking…the list goes on and on.

When we have chosen something which we would love to learn more of and develop, then our next step is to ask: "How might I develop that quality/skill through the medium of my work?"

For example, say the quality you would like more of is "confidence". You might look at the three meetings you have that day and choose to adopt a more confident stance in the way you act and speak in the meeting.

Within this single act of shifting the focus, you will have transformed your three work meetings into a self-designed and inspired, confidence workshop. You gain, the company gains!

There are a million ways to use this and other approaches to make your work, work for you!

John Waine, The IT Coach