Editor’s Note: It was brought to my attention over the past week that while I often write about finding a job/career/life you love, I rarely, if ever, write about the opportunity to love the job/career/life you already have. It was an excellent point, and I am excited to share with you several ways we can start loving our job today, no matter how we felt about it yesterday.
The difference between loving the work we do and being passionate about our job and career
I find it important first to hit on a key difference between loving every minute of the work we do vs. being passionate about our job and career.
Loving the work we do means enjoying every task in which we take part. Being passionate about our work means we understand how a given task fits into the pursuit of our passion.
Would you rather have a job in which you love every task, but are not passionate about the end result… or a job where you have to work hard towards an end about which you are extremely passionate?
I would prefer to be passionate about the end result, the company for whom I am working, or the people/customers I serve than be passionate about every single task which my work requires.
Hindsight is 20/20
Inevitably, almost all of us will look back at how we ended up in a job and wonder if we could have done something different to be happier, more fulfilled, or to put our talents to work in a better way. It’s hard not to think this way – after all, hindsight is always 20/20. I found myself in this exact position when I began to think deeply about my first job.
My solution was to change careers completely and venture out on my own. However, jumping ship is not the best solution for everyone, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend that everyone quits their job the moment the task at hand gets difficult or we feel we are stuck in a rut.
So, what’s the alternative? Here are three ways to shift our thinking today to start becoming more passionate about our jobs and careers.
Everyone has a story
. Annoying bosses, amazing bosses, leaders in the organization, and water-cooler gossipers. Every last one of them. A good place to start our quest in becoming more passionate: how many of those stories do we know?
Relationships have been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life for a very long time now. They make my personal life more fulfilling, they were a key aspect of my first job, and I continue to make time to build relationships now that I have started my own business.
I love relationships for several main reasons:
1) I find that I learn in two main way
s: by listening to the experiences of others and by reading. Building relationships and asking the right questions has taught me more than all of my formal education combined.
2) I have always found it amazing how new doors open as we broaden our network and become close with more people. Nearly all of my personal and professional success has been a result, either directly or indirectly, of building meaningful relationships.
3) This is most important. Relationships are personally enriching. For both sides. When we reach out to others without the intent to ask for something, but rather to offer help, build a friendship, or learn, everyone involved gains from the experience. I have had multiple mentors tell me they enjoy spending time with me and are happy to have my friendship. I don’t have much to offer aside from a genuine interest in their lives and a listening ear. And yet they still enjoy our time together.
Who do you know, or know of, in your organization you would like to get to know better? Who do you not understand? Who annoys you? Whether it is the CEO, the person who talks too loud on the phone in the cubicle next door, or one of your favorite co-workers, think about those people that you would like to know or understand better and then reach out to them. Find out how to get time on their schedule. (If it’s the CEO, it might be tough, but stay tuned for a post on getting to the CEO.)
When we make work more personal by forming face-to-face relationships with as many people as possible, the job becomes less tedious, and our work becomes more meaningful… Why? Because now we are working with and for people whom we understand and about whom we care.
Focus on what we love and become an expert
It’s easy to despise our work when we are in the middle of creating a massive spreadsheet or editing a presentation for our boss. Replying to emails can be tedious and putting up with mediocre coffee in the break room is frustrating. But almost every job that exists involves at least some, if not all, of these things… Which means we need to look past them and shift our perspective if we want to be passionate about our job.
Which brings us to the next big question on the way to finding passion in our current role: what is the single greatest thing about our job? Why do we love our job? No one else can or should answer this question for us. It doesn’t matter what the HR team thinks is the best part of the job. It doesn’t matter what our boss thinks is the best part. It matters what we think.
Got it nailed down? Excellent. Now how can we make that part of our job happen everyday? Take a minute and let’s brainstorm ways to incorporate our favorite part of our job into every single day we show up to work.
Once we know how to incorporate our passion into our work (like how I slid passion in there?), it’s time to figure out how we can become an expert. When we work to become an expert in the area of our job we love the most, there are several beneficial outcomes:
- We concentrate on what we love more often by doing work-related research and spending our time learning about the things that excite us… Which makes us different, better, and special, improving our value to the organization.
- We become the go-to resource for others in the organization, which means we get to focus on what we love more often.
- Beyond our immediate role and responsibilities, we are building our skill set and knowledge base in such a way that we are best prepared to pursue our passion in the future.
In review, we should figure out what we love most about our job as soon as possible and start becoming an expert in that area as soon as possible.
The job description doesn’t matter… But these four words do: How can I help?
Job descriptions exist as a control for employers. The job description is in place as a joint agreement between employees and employers to ensure that employees can’t goof off too much without being held accountable. How interesting is your actual job description?
Let’s save some time, and go out on a limb to say the job description doesn’t matter. The job description is a lower bound on how we are expected to contribute to our employer…. Ie if we want to skate by and hang out to our job by the skin of our teeth, then we should stick to our job description and only our job description.
Don’t get me wrong. We have to do our job. But being passionate at work goes far beyond simply doing our job.
If we are honest with ourselves, we could probably accomplish our core responsibilities in half of a work week (which is an entirely different issue, but we’ll leave it alone for now). The rest of our time is spent procrastinating, waiting on emails to arrive, checking our Twitter feed, or otherwise.
I want to introduce four words that could change the way we look at work forever. How can I help? The best way we can spend our extra time, energy, and passion is by asking everyone we meet how we can help. When we open ourselves up as a resource willing to step out on a limb for others and help in any way we can, we start to grow a reputation… The same reputation we grow from becoming an expert: the go-to person.
At first, we’ll almost certainly have to do menial tasks when we try to help. That’s ok – we have to do those tasks extremely well because they are the trust builders. They open up doors to more exciting, invigorating projects. And eventually, they give us license to make our passion known (the part of our job we love) and ask for projects based on that passion.
So, how can I help? Honestly, I’m happy to help any of you reading in any way I can.
The three ways we can start becoming more passionate about our current job and career today:
1) Build relationships
2) Do more of what we love and become an expert
3) How can I help?
What do you think? Do you think you could become more passionate about your job by following these three tips? Are there other ways you have become more passionate about your? Have you invested time in pursuing any of these strategies and found them not to be useful?
Tell me about your thoughts and experiences in the comments or share this article using the social media buttons below. And, of course, I’d love it if you would consider subscribing to receive my blog posts via email in the top right hand corner of any page on the blog.