Pick a job that brings you joy, not sorrow
Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 16:09
Nobody sets out to hate their job, but sometimes it just happens. You work hard. Nobody notices. You're always on time. Nobody notices. You're miserable. Nobody notices.
"Work should ennoble, not kill, the human spirit," assert the authors of The Progress Principle, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer. And their research shows that those of us who can find happiness on the job will actually work harder. But how do you find a job that you'll love?
Find the profession that fits your personality. What do you care most about? Status? Making a difference? Earning potential?
If you know that money is the most important factor in your career choice, then your options become clearer. However, if you feel that money is irrelevant, don't underestimate its impact on your life. If you're still sweating your rent payment after two years of dutiful service, you're going to have to love what you're doing or recognize that it's in your best interest to move on.
The first job you get after you earn your degree may define the career-field you end up in — because that's where you start building experience — so only apply for jobs in the field you want to be in.
Visualize how your workday will be spent. Maybe you need structured, orderly days where you know exactly how your day will go. Or maybe an unchanging routine would make you feel like your soul is withering and dying like a forgotten flower. It may help to think about what your greatest achievement would look like. Identifying this factor will help define your goals. You don't have to be the greatest composer of all time, but if you would be satisfied working for a symphony orchestra then maybe a career in criminal justice would be the wrong choice for you.
Is there something you're so captivated by that you catch yourself talking about all the time? If so, let that guide you. If someone is working with passion and purpose, they won't have to convince themselves to get out of bed in the morning.
This is why an internship can be imperative. It allows you to do the actual job without committing yourself permanently. If you find you don't like it, then you can get out before you get stuck.
Ponder your strengths. Whatever your strengths are, acknowledge them because they are valuable to you and your employer. And if you decide to learn new skills, working hard toward the goal of attaining them may increase your happiness as well, according to a study coauthored by San Francisco State University psychology professor Ryan Howell.
It's important to recognize that how we spend our days at work is essentially how we live our lives and that over time your job will absolutely become a part of you. Now, is that part something you're willing to just leave to fate, playing the keyboard solo at your desk, hoping that somebody notices?