Here’s a fact: practically nobody loves their job, but people who do love their job have better lives and are better employees. Why can’t we change this?
I’m almost tired of writing about this topic. We’ve covered it about a zillion times here on The Methodology Blog. A sampling of our posts include:
- Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs on why “follow your passion” is dumb advice and the people who love their jobs are often doing disgusting things—but where they have total autonomy.
- How passion for your employer is a problem, because it creates dangerous loyalties. People should have passion for their work, their industry, and their profession.
- Our own Amy Woodall on why your employees are lying to you, because you haven’t created a culture of trust.
- Why paying people hourly often leads to them despising you. Because if you’re measuring time, do you really feel like a respected, professional adult?
- The main source of workplace depression is supervisors. And also, there’s a 1 in 3 chance your employees want you fired.
- A leading factor in poor productivity is dislike of the job itself. Not exactly that surprising, is it?
And now, a piece from the New York Times titled The Incalculable Value of Finding a Job You Love. In effect, enjoying what you do is of immeasurable value. Probably because it’s so rare. Or as the editorial summary says:
To be happy, research suggests, earning a high salary isn’t enough. Once you have met your basic needs, satisfaction comes from developing an expertise.
What It Is Like To Love Your Job
Since about three quarters of Americans don’t enjoy their job, it might be hard for people to imagine what it is like to enjoy what you do for a living. Here are some key elements that make it different:
- Eustress instead of distress. Of course every job involves stress, but it’s more likely to be eustress, which is a positive form of stress. You’ll find yourself excited about what’s going to happen and nervous because you care about doing a good job.
- Good relationships. Imagine knowing someone that you generally get along with and have respect for them. This is one of the components of a great job with a great employer: stunning coworkers.
- Spending time in the zone. We all know what it’s like to be focused on a task and lose track of time. That’s what psychologists call the state of “flow.” In a great job that you love, you spend more time doing interesting, challenging work that develops your expertise.
- Enough money for money not to matter. The funny thing about our salary is that it matters a great deal until we reach a certain point. Once you are paying people enough that they can comfortably meet all their needs, the science shows that they tend to be motivated more by other factors.
In short, a job that you love is wholly different than one you don’t. It’s exciting, it’s filled with smart, interesting people, it’s got challenging work that you can really focus on, and it pays well enough that you’re not really worried about money.
So how do we find these opportunities?
How To Find a Job You Love
There’s a lot of advice out there about finding a great job that you love doing. But it boils down to three basic factors: attitude, expertise, and marketability..
You must have an approach toward your career that makes you attractive to others. If you’re standoffish, if you don’t shower before interviews, or if you’re a conceited jerk—you’re probably not going to find a job you love.
You’ve also got to develop knowledge in some area that excites you. But as that New York Times op-ed notes:
Becoming an expert is so challenging that you are unlikely to expend the necessary effort unless the task is one that you love for its own sake. If it is, the process will be rewarding apart from whether it leads to high pay.
And finally, you’ve got to have expertise in a field where there is money to be made. So when you’re considering your many passions, pick something that the world wants right now.
It won’t be easy. But if you have a great attitude, if you become a genuine expert, and if you’re looking to apply your knowledge and your character to a sector of the economy that has opportunity, you have a fighting chance of finding a job you love.
And isn’t that worth it, no matter what happens?