Do what you love.
This is advice we often hear. Although I agree with this for everyone in theory and in an ideal world, it is also safe to say that doing what you love, doesn’t always pay the bills and is not a practical or viable option for many.
If you fall in this category, and are not currently in the position to drop everything and pursue your most heartfelt interests as a career, you can still find ways to be more fulfilled at work, by bringing something you love to work with you. This can be anything from a value, to a goal, to a hobby or interest.
Values – What are some of your core values? Or what are you working on in terms of your personal or professional development? Take what you find important and incorporate it into your work. If you value kindness, use interactions at work, especially the challenging ones to practice being thoughtful and generous to others, and yourself! If assertive and clear communication is essential to you, practice this daily.
*One great way to access your values is to recognize characteristics you find appealing and dynamic in others. Spend 5 minutes observing people around you, noting one thing you value in each person.
Goals – I once worked as a retail manager. I didn’t particularly enjoy the job, but was assigned high level responsibilities that challenged me. I used my time at this company as a learning ground, setting out to gather as much information as I could about running a business, managing people, and sales and marketing – with the goal of applying these skillsets to starting my own business. Staying motivated towards an ambition both benefited my employer and served me in the long run.
Hobbies/Interests – My four year old son likes to remind me, “You never know unless you try.” Don’t let your job description define who you are and what you contribute. That job description was written before a unique human being stepped into the position. You have so much more to bring to the workplace than your job description could ever embody. Think about a hobby or interest that would be relevant at work. Try to apply it in the work environment. Get others involved. At Cornerstone on Demand, a leading learning software development company, they have a day of sharing, where employees can sign up to teach something of personal interest to other employees. For the organization, this helps with employee engagement, creates a space to naturally develop presentation skills, and encourages idea sharing. Activities like this also help to blur the line between work life and personal life. Because the reality is, you do not shut off who you are when you get to work. By bringing your personality, and personal interests to work – you can feel more ‘at home’ in the workplace. Think outside the box and bring your authenticity to work for you.
If you CAN do what you love and be successful by your own definition, then I will always rally behind this as a first choice. But for those we are not in a position (right now) to do what they love for a living, I say bring something you love to what you do. And watch how these daily actions change your outlook on the work you are currently doing, and exponentially bring you closer to doing work you love.