“I make the world the way I like it” – just like Pippi Longstocking says, it’s the same with job crafting: you change your own job so that it suits you well to very well your own abilities and personality. The term was invented by the American organizational psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski, who now teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. In her studies, she was able to show that employees who can actively shape their work and their relationships at work in such a way that it fits well with their personality become more satisfied and also find their work more meaningful.

Ragnhild Struss, founder of the career advice service “Struss

Sounds unrealistic, you say?

If you’re currently unhappy at your job and wondering if that will ever change, the answer is probably yes. But Struss makes it clear: “Whether employed or self-employed – we have all definitely done job crafting without realizing it.” No job is perfect when you start. And no position is performed exactly the same by two people. This modeling of the job usually happens without reflection and not necessarily in the necessary places – and therefore does not always lead to lasting satisfaction.

It’s often only over time that you notice that the job is pinching like a poorly cut piece of clothing. Warning signals often cannot be translated so directly into constructive solutions: If the job is no longer a good fit, overthinking and rumination can increase. Some people take their job frustration out on others. There is blame and devaluation from colleagues or bosses. Exhaustion and frustration take hold, which can lead to work-to-rule, in modern German: “Quiet Quitting”.

In this respect, successful job crafting first requires self-reflection. The Hamburg career consultant Struss names three levels on which you can gain clarity and, on the basis of these, gives concrete ideas on how the job can be adapted to your own needs. The first level addresses the question: “What do I want to work on?” and deals with the tasks, skills and responsibilities that one takes on in the job. The second level concerns the question of how and in what way I want to work. And the third level is about relationships at work.

Only through the analysis do concrete ideas for change measures emerge. Why not join in now? The three key questions give you orientation:

Ask yourself: What activities in my current job do I enjoy doing? Which ones do I find particularly interesting? Which one do I like less? Or do I even find some of them downright exhausting?

What areas of responsibility do I have – and how satisfied am I with them? For example, a teacher is responsible for imparting learning material to students. But she is also responsible for social interaction and communication with parents. A civil engineer has to take care of the implementation of the construction plans, perhaps coordinates the trades and has a certain responsibility in the team.

What goals do I have? A teacher may have a short-term goal of completing the eighth grade exam. In the long term, she wants to inspire young people to learn. Civil engineers may want to finish discussing the current construction phase at short notice. In the long term, it could be about establishing more environmentally friendly technologies or improving the reputation of your own office.

You can already see: In each individual case, activities, areas of responsibility and goals are very individual. So it’s best to make a list now.

And then? Now analyze your findings. Which activities are particularly suitable for you, your skills and your personality? What goals should your actions contribute to in the long term? What areas of responsibility do you enjoy taking on?

Ragnhild Struss knows what the first step to a fulfilling job is: “Do more of what suits you and what you enjoy.” A teacher who finds nothing more exciting than didactics could switch to a teacher training institute on an hourly basis. A civil engineer who is interested in sustainable construction can take on more specialized tasks in the company. A teacher who loves teaching very much and finds contact with parents difficult could make the parent representative more responsible. At the same time, it is worth reducing unpleasant activities or areas of responsibility or at least devoting less time to them.

The procedure is similar for the second and third levels of job crafting. Here too, it all starts with self-reflection and introspection.

Observe yourself over a few days and ask yourself: How do I work? How do I plan my day and how well does my planning work? How do I deal with overlapping tasks and am I satisfied with it? The positive aspects are just as interesting as the more negative ones. Because: You should preserve the positive ones – and actively change the negative ones in the sense of job crafting.

You may notice that you are annoyed by your multi-tasking and regularly lose track of things at lunchtime. Or you notice that the noise level in the office or interruptions keep you from working.

And then? The solution lies in adapting working hours, working style and working model to personal preferences. “One option could be to reduce or increase working hours or to modify the proportion of remote work.” For some, more know-how in time management and effective working methods can be a solution. Others tend to make even more radical changes: “One way to change your employment relationship can be to switch from permanent employment to self-employment,” says Struss, who has been advising people on career changes for 20 years.

In every job there are relationships that you find more pleasant and others that drain you of energy. Look at your contacts and relationships. And ask yourself: What encounters are you looking forward to? Which relationships trigger stomach rumbling? An honest inventory is interesting. However, keep in mind that the problem does not always lie with others. Also ask yourself honestly in which rather difficult encounters you might be the most challenging part.

And then? To start, focus on the relationships that you have identified as particularly positive. This will give you a good idea of ​​what factors are important to you when it comes to being together. Maybe all the good contacts mean that you meet each other in a friendly manner. Perhaps certain communication channels also play a role or personal encounters in addition to the many remote work.

Make a list of the factors that ensure the success of your good relationships. Now you can begin to actively shape other relationships in your work environment according to these patterns. You will quickly notice: communication and relationships will generally improve in your working life.

Anyone who puts their work on a good footing on these three levels will take big steps towards the dream job feeling. At the same time, you will notice that managers and teams of course also have responsibility for a good working atmosphere – but with clear ideas you can also address these things better. And for many changes in the sense of job crafting, you don’t even need the boss’s blessing. In this respect, Ragnhild Struss’ promise is perhaps not completely exaggerated when she says: “Every person has the right to a fulfilling life – and that includes professional satisfaction.”