by Allison Aboud Holzer

Ever been caught in your cubicle sleep-talking about your “dream job” only to wake up and realize your boring, white-walled reality? Well, I’ve got just the denmarkremedy for you… Denmark!

According to data from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, Denmark is the “happiest place on earth.” Dr. Ron Inglehart, director of the study, says that “the results clearly show that the happiest societies are those that allow people the freedom to choose how to live their lives.” Denmark does this by paying for citizens to attend the schools of their choice. Due to the incredibly high tax rates that provide this financial support, white collar jobs pay almost the same as blue collar jobs. Removing status or financial motives from job selection, Denmark citizens tend to choose careers based on their interests, strengths and passions. Denmark’s politics aside, doing what you love every day emotionally pays off.

But, with the reality of U.S. national employment rates rising every day, now might not be the time to risk stable income for a dream job. Yale business school Professor Amy Wrzesniewski may provide one possible solution for the cubicle sleep-talker.

Wrzesniewski researches a phenomenon called “job crafting.” She has found that some employees re-create their job descriptions to more closely align with their interests and passions. Employees who job craft do so by blurring the boundaries of their typical work day to align more closely with their desired work identity. For example, a phlebotomist interested in marketing might create a new logo and procedural manual for the lab; a teacher interested in law might create a legal club for students; or, a nurse interested in teaching might design a series of courses on hospital best-practices. Crafters do not limit themselves to job description alone; rather, they actively seek out new opportunities that more closely align with their strengths, interests and passions. Not surprisingly, they tend to be more satisfied with their jobs across all kinds of professions.

So, if you’re falling asleep at your cubicle, I challenge you to write your ideal job description: What types of activities would you like to do the most? What new topics or job skills would excite and challenge you? What professional development activities would stimulate you? Then, review the list and think creatively about ways you could change your typical work routine to include more of these activities.

While you may not wake up the next day in your dream job, chances are you will feel more engaged and excited about your work. And who knows what doors that new enthusiasm might open up for you?

Wrzesniewski, A. & Dutton, J. (2001). Crafting a Job: Revisioning Employees as Active Crafters of their Work. Academy of Management Review, 26 (2), 179 – 201.