Learn How To Love Your Job
Work with passion and happiness will follow
More hours are spent working than doing most anything else during our waking hours. Therefore, it’s essential to love what you do. The drudgery of working 40-plus hours a week on a boring job can lead to other problems in your life, as your unhappiness will permeate every aspect of your life.
There are key ways to ensure that you find a job you love, or to improve the one you already have.
Figure out what matters to you
First, make sure your work and your strengths are aligned, advised Dr. Kristen Lee Costa, a behaviorial sciences professor and author of RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress: Your 24-7 Plan for Well-Being.
“There's nothing more frustrating than when we are bored or not given the chance to engage in work that is meaningful to us and that honors our passions and strengths. We can often hit plateaus and sometimes need new projects to stimulate our curiosity and keep us engaged. Speak up and ask for innovative roles and projects to keep the creative juices flowing and passions ignited,” Costa said.
Second, create meaningful relationships at work., she said. “The demands of today's work environments are intense, and this can lead to isolation. We run from meeting to meeting and sometimes barely have time to catch our breath or stop and eat lunch. Forming community and having go-to people at work makes a huge difference. Cultivating shared passions can spur us on even when we are saturated with stress. Relationships matter and can bring out the best in us.”
Definitely take time to play and enjoy life outside of work. What we do outside of work matters just as much as what we do at work, she said.
And most important, watch for burnout. Burnout snuffs out our creative energy and causes people to get stuck. It is an occupational risk and everyone needs to make sure that they keep track of stress levels and set boundaries with work, she said.
If you are unhappy in your career
Sometimes, people find themselves in a career they dislike. This happens all too often, and there is a fix.
Ben Brearley, founder of ucareerstrategy.com, said that if you are rethinking your career path, it’s time to think hard about what is meaningful for you in your work.
“It will be different for everybody, but being able to find job satisfaction through the meaning you attribute to your work is critical,” he said.
Ways that some people find satisfaction, he said, include:
- Contributing to the community
- Helping others
- Really believing in a product or service that your work provides
- Being on the forefront of an industry e.g. innovation, high-tech
One of the ways to ensure job unhappiness is to follow a career path for money. “Don't follow the money, unless it is only money that you find meaningful. Money loses its impact very quickly, you are much better off doing something that you enjoy, for less pay,” Brearley said.
“If you are unhappy in your career, don't wait - work hard to understand what will make you happier, then aim for it. Don't wait for something to change in your current situation. You need to make it change,” he said. And, “don’t aim for perfection - there will always be bad things about all career paths. Aim to be content with your career and happier than you were yesterday.”
Appreciate what you have
Scott C. Hammond, Ph.D., clinical professor of management in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, shared a personal tale from one of his students on how to add happiness to a career that has started to sour.
“After three years, Nathan wanted to throw in the towel. He had worked, sacrificed, borrowed and busted his brain to get through dental school. Now he could not imagine a life of dentures and kid cavities. Oh, the money was good. Too good. He made more money in his first six months than his parents made in five years. His parents told him that he was lucky and blessed because he had money,” Hammond recalled.
“Then it changed. To break the monotony he agreed to go with a group of dentists to Central America for a week to do charity care dentistry. Just a week of something different. Just a week where beach time or golf in the afternoon was promised after the clinic done for the day. But he ended up giving 18-hour days, extra days, and wanting to go back. And he did and does, taking his staff and friends with him.”
Hammond shared his top five tips on how to learn to love your job and feel passionate about it:
- Bring an abundance mentality to work. Look at the glass half full and not half empty. Look at what is in your wallet, not what could be. See what you have, not what you don’t have. If you have a career you are in the top 5% of people in the world. Some just have jobs. Many have nothing.
- Use the current career to create the career you want. Nathan did not know he wanted a career in international service and philanthropy until he was in the jungle. Then he turned dentistry into a way to make the world a better place.
- Listen to others, but don’t let them define your success. You father-in-law should not tell you what you should love to do, nor should your professor, partner, or spouse. W. B. Yeats said, “Beloved gaze in thine own heart. A holy tree is growing there.”
- Go outside your career to find other joys, such as service or social connections. Self-indulgent hobbies usually don’t make you happier, but service does.
- Go inside your career to find people to manage, mentor or lead. Most careers have leadership opportunities or chances to enhance technical skills that can be very rewarding. But don’t become a manager to serve yourself. It’s the wrong motive for what might be the right move.