Is it really possible to love your job? Despite what you may hear from your friends and co-workers, I know it’s possible. It just takes some time and understanding of who you are. The real key to successfully navigating a debt free adventure is to find work for which you are passionate, engaged, and aligned.
By many accounts, too many of us have not achieved this goal. A 2010 Conference Board study showed only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their job. It’s clear too many of us are not happy in an important area of our lives, and it impacts our behavior in other ways.
While I advocate self-employment as the best way to find work you enjoy, not everyone agrees with me. In my recent article on working on your business, a reader commented that self-employment is not a suitable option for everyone. As much as I advocate working for yourself and having full control over your life and money, I do agree with this reader. For a variety of reasons, self-employment is not for everyone. If job satisfaction is so important, how can you achieve this goal? Consider two important factors as you are looking for meaningful and fulfilling work.
Passion and Purpose
Think of a time where you did not sense time passing. You were totally involved with what you were doing, and your focus was only on what you were doing. You suddenly look at your watch or cell phone and ask, “Where did the time go?” I’m guessing the event in your mind wasn’t your job. If I’m right, then you understand a lot of what affects us in our jobs. Few of us have the passion for our work that we have in other areas of our lives. I’m not saying that work has to be the primary focus of our lives. I continue to believe that we work to live and that we should fit our work into our lives. However, this does not mean work should be something we dread.
Two months ago, my grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. A mutual friend and I were catching up on old times, and she described her job and how passionate she was about what she did. I walked away from that conversation thinking how blessed she was to find work she enjoyed so much.
Your job must also serve a purpose in your life. My friend Jonathan Pool describes how what you do must fit your core purpose. This purpose has nothing to do with your job, but what you do must satisfy why you exist and how you want to best serve the world. My core purpose is to educate and inspire others to transform their ideas into plans of action. There are many ways I can do this, both inside and outside of work. Think about what makes you come alive and how you can turn that into work that matters to you.
Engagement and alignment
I just finished a great book called “We” by Rudy Karsan and Kevin Kruse. My biggest takeaway from the book was how you must be engaged in your work AND how your work must align with your passions and purpose. If you are not fully engaged in what you do, you will not bring your best self to what you do. If you think of your work as a paycheck or working for “the man”, you will not fully engage and what you’re doing. Your job performance and pay will likely demonstrate this lack of engagement.
What may be even more important than engagement is how your work aligns with your values, purpose, and ideal work environment. “We” has a companion website full of free information, and one free tool is a survey designed to identify your ideal workplace type. I took the assessment, and it identified my ideal workplace as a “revolutionary” workplace where freedom and creativity are highly valued. Unfortunately, many of my past jobs have been in companies that were anything but revolutionary. I worked for companies that valued order, structure, and conformity. I now know why I did not like working in those environments. The work environments were completely misaligned with how I enjoy working.
Finding work you love is a challenge. We all have unique gifts and life visions. The goal is to find the work that allows you to bring your best self every day. I look at my sister with envy, because she has found that work as a high school teacher. I could not picture her doing anything different, and she loves what she does. It is no wonder that she is also an outstanding teacher who is well respected by her administrators and community. We all need to find the passion and purpose to find work where we can become fully engaged and align our work with the rest of our lives.