How to Find a Job You Love
Confucius said “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Jobs for life may be a luxury of yesteryear but with new opportunities opening up in brand new sectors and more employers increasingly seeking out, or at least accepting professionals with unconventional and rather unrelated CVs, the environment is rife for individuals to explore the topic of career satisfaction in a serious and creative and original manner. But how do you find that ideal job or analyze if your current job is in fact the right job for you? How do you determine for sure what it really is you want to do for the rest of you life?
Below is a general framework for just that from the Careers Experts at Bayt.com:-
1. Be realistic about job satisfaction: Every job has its ups and downs, its good days and days you wish you stayed in bed; so don’t expect perpetual euphoria; but if you are in your element you will know it. When you love your job it will feel like an extension of your identity, not a grueling chore or ordeal you are committed to from 9 to 5. You will on most days wake up welcoming the tasks ahead of you and take the challenges as they come, with calmness and humor. The good news is that yes, work satisfaction does exist and it takes all sorts of forms and shapes and guises, lots of people love their jobs and love their careers.
2. Explore your Values: Determining what really matters to you early on, will save you a lot of headache and heartache later on. Put everything on the table here. There are plenty of tests and scorecards available that delve deep here but you can start by asking yourself what really and truly matters to you most and ranking everything that matters to you in order of importance. You may find on that list items as varied as a home in the country, a beach house, a short commute, time with family, an approachable boss, a great team, family insurance, a company brand I am proud of, ongoing training and development, job security, a cause I am passionate about etc. The lists may be very long or very short and will be very different and unique for each person but it is important you prioritize them so you are clear about what matters to you most.
3. Explore your Interests: You can also ask yourself what it is you normally really like to do? What do you do when you can do anything at all? What do you really look forward to? Do you doodle all day wonderful caricatures in the margins while the other accountants are crunching numbers? Perhaps you are a budding artist. Do you look forward to weekends just so you can practice your French language skills at the French restaurant or teach the kids or write haiku or take visitors on a tour of the town? Perhaps you always wanted to be a language scholar or teacher or professor or poet or tour guide or travel agent or traveler. Whatever it is you love to do, don’t consider it unimportant; and if you don’t think you do it too well because you haven’t studied it, remember most people excel most at those things they love to do, and it’s never too late to learn. It also helps to close your eyes and envision yourself where you want to be in a few years time or a few months time; what does it look like and feel like; what are you doing in that picture and what did you do to get there? Don’t be afraid to dream big and to think outside the box as you map your interests and aspirations to possible careers.
4. Identify your skills and strengths: You will probably have some highly developed skills and some you consider yourself low on, on the excellence scale, but come to terms with all of them as in today’s career market its all about transferable skills rather than exact fit pedigrees. Paradigm career shifts are becoming as common as narrow linear career moves but you need to know what your skills are, to package them for where you want to go. Its not just those hard-earned technical skills you acquired in college that will serve you well but also soft skills and your ability to lead and inspire and motivate and engage with people.
5. Be ready to retrain: Retraining need not take you away from the workplace for any extended period of time unless you want it to; you can pursue a learning program while you work. Whatever gaps you identified between your skill-sets and interests can be filled with a very diligent program of study, be it self-learning or a course or an all-out new degree. In today’s workplace learning is very much adopted a lifelong commitment so be prepared to be in it for the long term.
6. Research. Research. Research: This can involve a lot of reading about industries and companies you are targeting as well as actual job roles and career paths but it needn’t stop there. Talk to people who work in your field of interest and get a feel for what a day in their life looks like and how the role resonates with your skills and interests and values. Ask for an informational interview to visit the company you are eyeing and get a feel for it and after the interview ask for a tour of the office. Speak to people who work there and people who used to. Find out what people like most and least about the job role, the career and the company as you plan your own shift. Make sure that the job sits well with your life goals and interests and does not disagree with any of your core values; ideally the more you learn about it the more excited you should feel.
But what about if you are in a job already that you don’t really hate and don’t want to leave but feel rather lukewarm and stressed out about? Well that’s very common and there are ways to take your role from good to great on the satisfaction barometer.
Begin in the same way as above by being very realistic about your expectations and then understanding what it is you really value and want in a job. Then start analysing what it is specifically that is impeding or hampering your wellness, motivation and productivity in your workplace. Where are the gaps between your own individual bespoke prototype of a job that is aligned with your needs and interests, and the job you are currently engaged in? You need to be very honest with yourself here so you can find the right cure. In a 2011 Bayt.com poll where professionals were asked what their number one loyalty motivation was, 27.9% of respondents said salary, 18.7% said available growth opportunities, 16.5% said relationships with their boss/management/colleagues, 14.2% said the nature of the job, 7.2% said training and development schemes, 6.9% said the company’s position in the market, 5.9% said corporate culture, and 2.6% indicated that reasons other of the above are keeping them motivated. Participants in the poll were asked how important transparent communication channels are to their loyalty motivation levels; 73.7% said very important, 19.2% said important to a certain extent, 2.7% said not too important, 4.5% said not important at all. Moreover, when asked what they were currently most loyal to, 20.1% of respondents said the overall company brand/values/vision, 10.3% said their immediate boss, 8.3 % said their colleagues, 7.3% their clients, 3.9% said their subordinates, 2.2% said the senior management team, 36.1% said all of the above and 11.8% none of the above. Moreover, when asked how motivated they were at their current job, 33.3% of respondents answered very motivated, 25.3% motivated to a certain extent, 21.1% not very motivated and 20.3% said not at all motivated.
Once you have addressed where it is your job is failing to meet your professional and/or personal needs and expectations, take to the drawing board and formulate a plan to address these head on. For some people just neatly compartmentalizing all the realizations that come with this self exploration exercise is enough of a mental release and they will actively and happily choose to change their attitudes towards the job rather than any major thing about the job itself. The self-realization and choice to be positive may be all they need to get rid of that daily sinking feeling and those butterflies in the stomach. Others may find that they need to do something to try to realign the job with their wellness, be it asking for an extra hour off to go home and feed the kids, or a sabbatical or extra training or more regular performance appraisals or improved communication channels with the boss etc. Whatever your self-analysis shows you, you are fully empowered to take the steps you need to try to bridge the gaps. Remember if you lack the know-how or assertiveness you need to address the issue you can get coaching and help and support on that from a capable friend or peer you trust or coach or professional advisor. The most important thing to realize is that you are in control of your career and that those gaps you have identified will not trip you, because you know they are there, understand their dimensions and have consciously chosen to smile at them indifferently, or cope with them head on.
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