That’s right, you read right, don’t waste your time trying to do what you love, love what you do.
Are you a could’a, should’a, would’a, kind’a guy or gal? A would’a been movie star, rock star, politician, explorer or entomologist who just couldn’t catch a break? Just drop it, I say. Don’t worry about chasing the dream job you’d love, just love what you do. It’s almost that simple. And you know what else, it’s easier to get a job and nearly always pays better.
Even some of histories greatest, the prodigious and prestigious like Mozart, Beethoven and Justin Bieber, pursued what they loved, but remained completely unsatisfied with their lot in life. They struggled financially (not Bieber, or not yet), in relationships and in recognition in their lifetimes. Mozart suffered from chronic health and financial issues. His good humour was skin deep. Beethoven, a genius who produced so much beauty, was angry and abrupt, antisocial and suffered ill-health. And Bieber, another child prodigy, do you really think he is happy with his lot? The car maybe, but surely not the haircut. That car, and I digress as usual, it’s like putting a five-year old on a racehorse, slapping the horses rump and expecting a happy ending.
Some of us like to stay in the same job from when we stop wearing nappies until when we put them back on. Much like cradle to grave, although grave sounds nasty, so I euphemised the saying. But not me.
Sure, I have stayed in some companies for a long time, but I have changed roles often. In fact, the less complimentary among you might describe me as a Jack of all trades, and master of none. But that’s fine with me. I like to have a go at lots of things. After all, variety is the spice of life. As a young football star in the NSW country town of Tumbarumba, I won an award one year for the Best Utility Player. In theory, it meant I could play in a multitude of positions, but in reality I think it meant they couldn’t find a place that suited me. They moved me around each week filling in wherever there was a gap. But who cares, there was variety and reward. The reward – an unsaleable chrome plated faux silver tray, donated generously by the local gift store. Do you think I wanted to be brilliant and the best at any one position, not likely mate, how dull.
A work friend referred me to an article recently, suggesting we at least consider following our dreams and do what we love. I thought about it for just a moment, then decided no, better to love what you do. As I said, it’s heaps easier to get a job and almost always pays better. Of course when I win lotto, I will do what I love and when I want to. But for now, it’s love what you do.
Ok, if you’re looking for a quick fix, then best you bail out now like a rat on a sinking ship. Nothing worth having is simply sought. So you have a little bit of work ahead of you.
Love hate list
Work out what it is that you love or even just like about your job and write it down in a list, 1 to 10. If you don’t make it to one, then ok, you win, look for a new job for goodness sake. You might make another list of the things you could love about your job with a little change. And go on, get it all out there and make that last list, all the things you hate about your job. Big word hate. You may even find that it’s difficult to list much that you really hate and that will be a revelation in itself. When you have that list together, you can start to apply some of the ideas below to the list. It’s all about changing things, so you remove the things you dislike where you can, you make things you could love into things you do love, and you do more of the things you love.
Give your best to the best
The first thing I think we all need to do is to do the things we enjoy really well. Really excel at these. There are aspects of our jobs we won’t enjoy, and possibly may never enjoy. I am not suggesting we should ignore these (we just can’t), but don’t let them be your main focus, the millstone around your neck. Check out what you love doing on the list you just made, and put a couple of small actions against each – ways to do it better. Work out what you need to do to love the things you could enjoy but are not quite there at the moment. What are the key reasons you’re not enjoying them and what’s the fix? Get some actions noted down.
You’ve got a friend, if not, get one
Surround your self with people you like to work with and whose company you enjoy. If you really can’t find anyone, then you’re in the wrong job or company. Make sure you have someone, a trusted confidant who you can talk to when things get challenging. This person might be a friend, a mentor or coach, but it needs to be someone you can trust. Of course you don’t want to destroy their day, every day 5 days a week, but its better to unload the niggling issues on a sympathetic non judgemental ear, than to stew on them until things fall apart.
Work’s not my only hobby
Make sure you make the most of your personal time. If you go home and sit on the couch and do nothing, then you can bet you’ll be sitting there thinking about work and you must have downtime for balance. Find something good to do outside of work that you’re interested in, that energizes you and that ensures that work is not the only focus in your life. When you have downtime and come to work refreshed, it’s amazing how much easier and more enjoyable work becomes.
Fit for the purpose
Look after your health. Your diet and your level of fitness have a significant impact on how happy you are. I just ate 3 sausages in bread and drank a can of coke at the Australia Day BBQ. Do you think I am happy now? Falling out of bed in the morning and pulling a hamstring on the way to the bathroom is bound to take the edge off your day, even in a job you love. Change a habit or form a new habit today. Yes, today – no, not tomorrow. Look at the dogs face, he’d love a walk. Look for a friend to walk with at lunch, someone to keep you honest and committed. Get up and get active, 20 mins a day.
Organise your personal system
I always harp on about this one when I write about employee engagement, but you must get organised. Whether it’s the inbox, the outbox, the to-do or not-to-do list, or just the desk disaster. Make time to tidy up and get organised. Amazing how even things you enjoy doing become tiresome and make you anxious if you can’t quantify the magnitude of the task. When you get organised the task is so much more manageable and less imposing than you think. Check out the things you really dislike on your list. These are probably amongst the most disorganised of your activities and the ones that are always nagging at your conscience.
Good luck – the best is yet to come
If you can do all or even some of these things, I am absolutely sure you can considerably improve how you feel about your job and you’ll be happier and more content. Work with your friends and employees to help them love what they do. And managers, this is a sure-fire way to improve employee engagement so be brave and help your employees work through this.
Any other great ideas? Please add a comment and share with everyone.
 I confess to some degree of poetic license in the use of the term star.