Illustration by Christian Leborg

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How to design work 

It is your responsibility to design the work so that it becomes meaningful and sustainable for you and the people you work with and for.

You are not engaged in the work you do, and the income is not enough to have a decent life. You may have chosen your profession from a deep desire to create something you enjoy doing as a creative professional. But now your work does not reflect who you are. A change in your career is what you need, and since you are a professional creative, you had the idea that you could just as well design the work you want.
The things you need to show for with your work can reveal what values you have. A portfolio of creative projects is a body of work or an opus. You may not have won any awards for your work, and you may not have made that much money. But maybe some customers have given you feedback on what your work has meant to them, and that may prove part of the purpose of your work.
I want to change my career
Find mentors who have a lifestyle you like. You can ask them questions about the efforts they have made. By using your current hourly rate and visualising time and effort spent, you may realise that it may not be worth all the extra effort to establish a new way of working that may even fail? You could end up with even longer working hours and you can not guarantee your income. Maybe you have to take a new education to be eligible for such work?
Contact the mentors you have found who have gone through a career change. The professional heroes have established a life that comprises meaningful work, time for recovery and a comfortable income. How did these people get the skills they needed, while working full time and not taking an extra education? Ask them if they can give you the guidance or answers you need and especially about the chain of actions they did to get to where they are today.
The stories your heroes went through were about gaining valuable skills. The road they took you must also go down. Find the environment where your story is unique and start your journey. It will be difficult. The motivation to fight through all that work is not something you have or do not have, but something you can gain. By placing yourself in front of your chosen medium and patiently work your way through the “Resistance”, you will eventually find your motivation to work.
Ideal solution
Take part in a creative process to find the problem you like to deal with. Also, find something that has a purpose greater than you. It is easier to find something meaningful in your life if you have previously opened up to the question of finding meaning among many possibilities. Equally important, these two strategies will give you the opportunity to try different things. Living out these two strategies is difficult, so you need to have a strong motivation to achieve both goals.
Compounding can be used not just in financial engineering but also for knowledge acquisition.–Thomas Moran
Life energy is the currency to measure what your life is about. How much time and effort did you invest in your work, and what rewards did you receive? You will get more ideas about what to fill your life with if you engage in the question of what you would do if you did not have to work? Tell the story of your life and what it comprises if you did not have to worry about money.
Choose work ideas inspired by a chart of your income and your skill level. Visual competence will make you come up with more ideas and more original ideas. People with visual competence can identify, interpret, and test problems. With visual thinking, you can do creative problem solving. Observe how the story of your career development follows the narrative structure of any story. Use the story structure as a map so that you can plan for the next development of the plot or the next phase of the creative process.
The motivation to work is similar to the drive to play a game. Your commitment to play can be significant, while the inspiration for work has lost its stamina. Doing your job and playing games have many similar aspects. They both require interaction with a system. This generates data. Engage someone to hold you accountable for the results you deliver. You get negative feedback when you make unwanted decisions and are rewarded if you succeed.
Play when you work as if it was a game
Create a game that function as a concrete prototype. Using the prototype can provide even more ideas. By improvising a prototype or game storming, an idea can cause something new. If you know it works as soon as you get proof you have a working prototype. With a prototype, you can perform tests on different stakeholders. Feedback from these tests reveals whether you need to improve the prototype.
Manage experiments
To manage the tests, you must follow a script you have based on pre-defined criteria. Any unexpected experiences will reveal whether you can repeat the test or that you need to build a new one. You can get such information if you reflect on the results and learn from them. The experiment will go well if the process and materials are self-evident to the people being tested. You learn from getting results during the test period that yield results.
Work design is about your problem and envisioning how your work can be enjoyable and help others. From that purpose, some clear competence goals will emerge. Creating ideas for new tasks, other procedures or changing environments is an ongoing process. Improvisation of prototypes of new work ideas will reveal whether they are original enough and of sufficient quality. By experimenting with different tests, you will take less risk when implementing new ways of working.

Exercise: Create scripts for habits to acquire professional and financial freedom.