Much has been touted about how important it is to find a job you love. Maybe that’s not as critical as we’ve been led to believe.
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My experience is that most people don’t love their work. Many like it, some tolerate it, but it is a minority who find work they love that also supports their lifestyle.
Does that mean that everyone else is left to live in frustration, desperately seeking that perfect job they can be passionate about? Not at all.
You can and should find enjoyment in your work. Doing so is very valuable to your life in many ways, including greatly increasing your probability of financial success. But you don’t have to love, or even like your overall job to enjoy everyday aspects of it.
It is critical to distinguish between the job and the way you do it. This is important because every job has aspects that will be very unpleasant for you. You need to be able to get through them with a smile on your face.
Let me give you a personal example. Coming out of college I helped start a company that required me to develop a sales pattern to teach to others. The nature of the sales contact was face-to-face cold calling. Unlike some of the great salesmen I’ve worked with since, I DISLIKED SALES. So much so that, for the first year, I got up every weekday, threw up, and then went to work.
Although my specific job literally made me sick, I was proud and took satisfaction in the way I was doing the job. I was giving it my best. Somebody had to create a successful way of selling our product, and money and manpower restrictions made me the best choice.
Why did I put such a concentrated effort into a job that I clearly didn’t love? Because I needed to make a living. I saw a significant opportunity for my partners and myself. And as importantly, it made me feel good about myself. I enjoyed undertaking something and giving it my best. It made me feel better about me, and my life as a whole.
Passionate about the job…no. Passionate about how well I did the job…yes. Fortunately, the effort paid off and we were able to hire and train others to do what I didn’t like to do. For a few of those folks, it was their dream job. For most, it was an okay way to make a good living. As for me, I moved to a job that I disliked less.
So if your boss doesn’t appreciate you, you’re underpaid, your company isn’t ideal…that can be OK, for now. They aren’t the key evaluators in your life. You are. Do your job well for YOU.
Even if you don’t like your specific work, or the work environment you are in, you can love the way you do it.
Be able to pat yourself on the back at the end of every day. By doing so, you also set yourself up for finding, within your company or somewhere else, a job you will enjoy more.
And you may discover, as you focus on doing it better, that some of the irritants of your job become more rewarding, or at least less lousy. For me, I eventually grew to like sales, though never to love it. However, after 30 professional years, I am fortunate to have created a job I love doing. It would have never happened without my previous work experiences, many of which were less than ideal.
Afraid of being stuck in the same job for life? Don’t worry. Individuals who emphasize the positive and rewarding aspects of their job, don’t stay in unpleasant jobs that long. They get promoted or use their positive record to get a more fulfilling job.
So, paraphrasing a verse Stephen Stills penned,
If you can’t be in the job you love…
Love the job you’re in (or the way you do it)
It will make EVERY JOB much more enjoyable and rewarding.
But what about Passion….Love of Life? Is that dependent on finding a job you love? No.
We all need to love life to fully benefit from it. But which parts of our lives generate that ardor, will vary from person to person, and over time. Someone who is passionate about their job is not necessarily living their life any more or less fully than someone who is passionate about their family or their music.
So, other than your job, what is your passion in life? Do you love to learn, or teach, or write? Are you fervent about cooking, sports, cars, or clothes? Do you have a wonderful friend, lover, or a family that you adore? Congratulations! You’ve discovered some of life’s great turn-ons for you.
Why not expand the joy in your life by regularly blocking time to engage in those activities you love, with the people you love? If it’s cooking special meals, set an evening a week aside from TV and laundry to be the chef you want to be. If that’s not enough, get a part time job as a prep cook in a restaurant you enjoy. Do it for free if you have to…it’s not your job, it’s your joy.
This is not hard to do. You just have to decide to do it. Then, in a calendar or planner that you use on a daily basis, write it down on the day you will do it. “Buy tickets to Sunday’s game” (tonight), “till my garden” (Saturday), “sign up for a design course at night school” (5 p.m.), “read my new book” (everyday at lunch). Don’t take your loves for granted – plan time with them. And that certainly should include the people you cherish the most. Commit to regular, celebration times, play times, bring them flower times, in addition to the routine.
Please understand that I’m not encouraging you to stay in a job that makes you miserable and find all your joys elsewhere. If you dislike the job you are in, start to lobby or look for a better one today. And create a plan to get it.
But remember, while you are searching for that perfect job, enjoy the way you are doing your present one, and keep celebrating and expanding all the other joys of life that surround you.
©WorkLifeBalance.com 2003 – All Rights Reserved
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You can help create a work environment that the people around you enjoy more. Simply recognize the value of what they do more often. Congratulate them more. Thank them more. Don’t fake it. It has to be real. Just focus a bit on regularly catching them doing something right. Then tell them. You’ll enjoy it too. Who are you going to make feel good about working with you today?
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The Manager’s Role
More and more organizations have recognized that creating a work environment that people productively enjoy is great for the bottom line. It draws out the discretionary focus and effort that can double or triple the contributions each of us can make on the job.
Managers in such an environment must expect, communicate and celebrate professional and organizational achievement. But what a manager must also recognize is that in addition to having a job, people on their team also have a life.
Showing sincere, even if brief, interest in the non-job related passions of each person that works for him or her can do this. Such sincere interest makes work a place that reinforces the achievements and enjoyments of ALL of life. When such a tone is set in our work, we all willingly contribute more to it.
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