Finding Work You Love!

Is that even possible? Can you really enjoy what you do and look forward to going to work every day? Absolutely, but you may need to do a little soul searching first.

“Most Americans evaluate their lives in retrospect, having no clear sense of control, purpose or destiny for their future.” That’s what Dan Miller, author of  48 Days to the Work You Love has observed after having provided career counseling to thousands. Here’s just a snippet of the many statements he’s received:

  • 51-year old businessman—I feel like I’ve lived my whole life by accident.
  • Salesman—I feel like I’m a ball in a pinball machine.
  • 56-year old man with PhD currently driving a bus—I feel like I’ve been given six seconds to sing, and I’m singing the wrong song.
  • 39-year-old automotive engineer—I’m a butterfly caught in a spider’s web, with my life slowly being sucked out.

Ouch! Those are truly painful statements, and worse, a huge waste of human potential!

If I had all the money I needed and there were no obstacles in my way, what would I be doing?

No, that’s not a trick question, but it is a good place to start in finding work you love. And the answer is not sitting on the beach or playing golf or [fill in the blank] for the rest of your life, because after a few months you’d be bored out of your skull. As one of my friends who had health problems and retired early stated after only a month or so of leisure—“Oh, to have meaningful work again!”

What are the things I can do skillfully and with ease?

So after you’ve made a list of what you would love to be doing, make another list. This time take an inventory of all the things you do well, your talents, skills and abilities. Don’t underestimate yourself and don’t be modest in your assessments. “Soft” skills often get downplayed, so if, for example, you’re usually able to defuse tense situations, give yourself credit for being a peacemaker and recognize it for the valuable skill that it is.

Search for your sweet spot—where your abilities unite with your passion.

Now, with your two lists in hand, it’s time to start marking through items that are not a good fit for you. Things that you have an interest in but not the ability to do well get crossed off your first list. Perhaps you love playing the piano but have difficulty getting your fingers on both hands to work at the same time. You know that’s not ever going to be your forte.

On your second list, go down the line and look for things that make you roll your eyes. Those are the things you’re qualified to do, but you either dread doing or they bore you to tears. Definitely mark through those, as they’re clearly not in your passion zone!

What’s left on your two lists?

Ideally, there’ll be some things that didn’t get marked off your lists. These represent your best candidates for finding work that you’re both interested in doing and that you possess the skills and ability to do well. It may not be feasible for you to jump into a new line of work just yet, but now you know more about how to direct your future efforts. Just as importantly, you’ll know what areas you don’t want to develop further.

Use your time off to reassess your line of work.

If you happen to be between jobs, this could be a great time to reevaluate what you really want to do. Finding meaningful work that you are passionate about and that plays to your strengths and abilities is like discovering what you were meant to do in life. Make it your mission to find this sweet spot. After all, this is your life, and you may as well enjoy it!