Many of us have heard the advice "Do what you love, and you'll never have to work a day in your life." This quote encourages us to seek work that feels effortless and joyful. As a career counselor, I don't like this advice. It isn't practical, and it sends people the message that they are in the wrong career if their work isn't directly related to their passions and hobbies. For those in jobs that truly aren't a good skill or interest fit, exploring other options is beneficial. For others, can seek out opportunities to create passion and curiosity in our current work setting, leading to feeling more engaged and happy in your daily working life.
Here's five ways to fall in love with your job.
1. Become a student (again). You probably experienced high levels of engagement when you were new to your job because you had to learn novel tasks, procedures, and routines while meeting your new co-workers. Over time, that newness wears off and your job might become routine or even tedious. Tap into your love of learning and explore new skill sets you can apply to your job. This can be as simple as sitting in with another team member to observe how they do their work, reviewing free online learning options through LinkedIn Learning or Coursera, or even pursuing additional training and certifications specific to your field.
2. Practice gratitude. Positive psychology research has found that practicing gratitude is related to happiness and positive emotions. Adopting an attitude of gratitude at work is as simple as expressing your appreciation for a team member for a job well done. Your co-workers especially deserve thanks for completing unpleasant tasks, like cleaning the office kitchen! Remember to accept gratitude and appreciation from others, too.
3. Advocate for yourself. Has your role changed significantly from the initial role that you agreed to when you began your job? Are you missing resources and tools that would make your work life easier? Perhaps a specific workflow or procedure is bogging you down and making you less productive. Even the best managers aren't mind readers - speak up!
4. Embrace mentorship. Mentoring a newer employee at your organization can help you develop communication, leadership, and listening skills. Mentoring someone else can also encourage powerful self-reflection, as you share key skills and experiences that helped you along the way. Your advice and guidance will benefit for your mentor, and allow you to gain appreciation for your many achievements along the way.
5. Refresh your work space. A drab workspace is uninspiring! Change out pens, notepads, and other basic office supplies with items that bring you joy. Clean out your junk drawer and refresh your decor items with photos of family and your favorite vacation spot to make you smile. Investigate ergonomic adjustments like a standing desk or a lumbar support cushion for your chair. You likely spend many hours per week in your workspace - it makes sense to make it clean and comfortable.
Being "happy" in your job isn't a static destination that you'll achieve when you earn your next promotion or raise, it is a series of every day decisions and efforts that increase your satisfaction every day. What steps do you take to "love your job?"