Career Advice

My New IOL Column – Can you love your job?

There are a couple things about February that I really enjoy. For starters, the weather is normally very pleasant and the hangover of the holidays starts to clear up. It’s also a month in which about three quarters of my family are having birthdays, leaving most of us smiling from ear to ear as we tuck into another last minute birthday cake. But importantly, it is also the month of love. Valentine’s month to be exact. And wherever you look, you’ll find roses, little heart shaped eateries and of course the inevitable romance tips. But what about loving what you do? It got me thinking. Can we really love our jobs? We hear people say these things all the time, but how does it really work. So for the past few weeks, I’ve been on a sort of mission. I posed some questions to various people to try and find out if there was some way in which we could all learn to love our jobs. After hearing some of the contributions, I realised that it is possible to love your job. But like any other relationship, it takes two to tango! Here are some of the questions and importantly the answers I got.

Is loving your job important?

It is if you want to feel an emotional bond with the work you do. For some people, working needs deep meaning, and if there is no emotional connection, then it is simply doing routine tasks for money. Therefore you could be doing anything and it wouldn’t matter. Loving your job and more importantly your career is essential to long term satisfaction. But remember, loving something is easier when you are at peace with and love yourself.

So is there a difference between loving a job and a career?

Yes. I always encourage people to first fall in love with a career. Whether that’s working in a job, or being an entrepreneur, you have to fundamentally experience a connection with the thing you choose to do. If not, you will find yourself hopping from job to job.

A job on the other hand is a way of experiencing your career. You will get some good ones, and some bad ones. If you hate a job, it doesn’t mean you hate your career. It’s also easier to change a job than change a career.

So what can a person do to love their job?

Practically, you need to get to know it. Just as if you were in a romantic relationship with someone, you would try to get to know them. Ask these questions. What do they stand for? What are their beliefs? And how do they behave when things are going well, and when things are tough? Also check how secure they are? When you start a job, you should pay attention to how long you see yourself in one place. Simply arriving day after day with no clue can catch you out. You may not see a retrenchment looming, or you may miss an opportunity for a promotion. If the job feels like it connects with your beliefs and your values, you will feel more at home. Again though, this is easier when you know yourself well.

Yes, but how do you really fall in love with the job?

Okay, I see where you’re going here. You want me to give you the formula for love…..right? I think it’s different for everyone. But the common ways in which people love their jobs is when they feel they can be themselves in what they do. In other words, they give everything of themselves, and the job gives back. In fact, the job extracts the best out of the person. It allows them to grow, to perform and to never feel that they have to be less than they are. Another way to get this right is to be driven by your own beliefs and values and not try and define yourself by what your job is about. When you remain true to yourself, and stay consistent, the job has less power over you. You then control how your job works out.

So yes, you can love your job, not because of what it is, but because of who you can be when you are doing it.

I have found this question a very intriguing one, as we seem to always look for the perfect job, when in fact we have the perfect “us” right here and now. Getting to know how powerful you are allows you to do any job with passion really. Finding the one you were born for is a blessing. And it’s a lot easier to find that when you are happy. Just like in any relationship, it’s funny how Mr or Mrs Right comes along when you are content and happy with yourself. So, if you want to love your job, learn to love yourself first.

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As a columnist and speaker I have been able to connect with so many interesting people who have experienced wonderful adventures in life. I am fascinated with the limitless power of people and try to reflect my own experiences and thoughts through these pages.

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