How to like your job more (really)

Happy New Year!

I want to kick off the new year with some big (maybe controversial) ideas about how you can genuinely like your job more.

1. Don’t try to LOVE your work

This may sound heretical, but I just don’t believe in trying to LOVE your work.

I know I am going against people like Oprah and the late Steve Jobs who keep telling us that the only path to true success and happiness is to find what you love and do that for work, and the money will follow.

But “You must love your work” is just BAD ADVICE.

Here is a picture that shows how we are told to think about this.

Obviously you want to avoid the lower right, “Hate your work” and “Don’t make enough money”. But the problem is that upper left is unrealistic for the rest of us.

Almost no one achieves it. So why torture yourself?

Setting the goal as “Do what you love”, and then trying to make enough money at it, makes otherwise competent, successful people feel like they are failing when they don’t achieve it.

Here’s what breaks down for most people in the pursuit of the upper left quadrant:

1. In the upper right: Make a lot of money, but don’t love your work. This makes people feel like they are selling out and doing something wrong. It leaves them feeling guilty and unsatisfied.

2. In the lower left: People who pursue things they truly love but fail to make enough money at it, also feel like they are failing. And they have also ruined their hobby by turning it into a bad job.

I want to redefine how we think about this to be more positive and achievable:

Try these labels instead.

Instead of setting the goal as “Love Your Work”, set a new goal so you can actually get into the upper left quadrant without needing to be a rare, mutant, superstar. I say, “Like Your Work” and “Make Enough money.” We can all achieve this.

I love my family and friends. I love scuba diving. I love art.
I work for other reasons than love. I make enough money. I spend the money on enjoying the things I love.

This is the first step in liking your job: Give yourself a break and don’t feel like you are failing if you don’t LOVE your work.

Now, to get to the second step of actually really liking the job you do…

2. Follow Your Energy

The trick is to to figure out what gives you energy (vs. love) and do more of that.

If you follow what gives you energy and avoid what drains your energy (certain types of work and people you can’t stand), you will find yourself liking your job.

Here is picture for how to think about this.

Advance your career and feel satisfied in your work…

The trick is to find the intersection of the three things in this picture.

1. Your Values: Who you really are when you tell the truth to yourself. What is really important to you in life? What is OK and not OK? You will not like your work (and your energy will be drained) if your values are compromised.

2. Your Strengths and Skills:
Where you get energy. You will thrive the most when you get to use your natural strengths at work. When you are using your strengths, you build energy and feel great about what you are doing. If you are in a job where you don’t get to use your strengths, it will drain your energy and you will feel unhappy.

3. Your Actions & Behaviors: Learn what your company truly values. Tune your job description to do more of the things your company values, but make sure you find the places where those things intersect with your personal Strengths and Values.

Find this intersection for YOU, and you will like your job.

You can choose the kind of work you want to do, and re-negotiate your job description over time so you put yourself in a position to thrive most of the time. This is the what the most successful people have figured out and do.

When I finally figured this out in my own career, my family started saying to me things like, “Am I imagining this, or do you actually like your work now?”

It makes a huge difference. And it’s achievable.

I hope you can take these ideas and create an improvement in your career.
Best wishes and much success for 2012!

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ABOUT PATTY:

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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

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