by Dan Oswald
It isn’t enough not to hate your job. Most of us will spend more than 10,000 days at work during our lifetime. That’s more than 80,000 hours of work and a lot of time to spend doing something you don’t enjoy. If you really want to be happy in life, find something you love to do.
The saying goes, “Find something you love to do, and you won’t work a day in your life.”
So ask yourself, “Do I truly love what I do?” If you do, congratulations because there are many people out there who work their entire life and don’t love their work. If you don’t love your work, you’ve got some work to do. You need to figure out what you really want to do—what it is you’d love to do every day.
Life is too short to show up every day and do something you don’t love.
One piece of advice I’ve passed on to my kids is to discover what they love to do and then figure out how to make a living at it. That’s certainly not something I came up with, but it’s something I believe can lead to real happiness.
My middle child, Aly, is just a couple of months away from graduating from college. She is one of the lucky ones. At a young age, she has found work that she’s absolutely passionate about. She loves her work and actually talks about missing it when she’s home on breaks. She works with young adults with developmental disabilities, and she glows when she talks about “her students.” She has found something she loves to do.
Here’s the kicker—my advice to my kids is being tested by Aly. While she has found work that she finds fulfilling and absolutely loves, she hasn’t figured out how to make a living doing it. The nonprofit for which she works doesn’t pay much—it can’t afford to. It’s a relatively new organization that’s still trying to get established, and it doesn’t have the resources to pay what would amount to a living wage. I’m hard pressed to tell her to walk away from a job she loves for greener pastures. I’m encouraging her to keep the job and figure out how to make it work. Easy for me to say, and it’s hard for her to have the faith that she will indeed discover how to live on her meager wages.
But I’ve seen the other side of the equation. Early in our marriage, my wife and I would often spend Sunday afternoons with my wife’s parents. My wife’s mother had a job that she didn’t really enjoy. I can’t say she hated her job because I never asked, but I have my suspicions. And about 5:00 p.m. every Sunday, I could see my mother-in-law’s mood change as she began thinking about having to return to work the next day. It wasn’t excitement that I saw as she thought about the week ahead—it was dread. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
At our company, the value statement for our employees includes “passion.” We want our people to be passionate about the work they do. Why? Because passionate people make the workplace fun. Passionate people do better work. Passionate people inspire those around them.
What about the people we work with who aren’t passionate about their jobs? We want to help them find their passion! Maybe they can find a new role in the company that really stokes their fire, or it might be that we help them find that role somewhere else.
It’s naive to think that every single employee in any company absolutely loves their job. It might be that they love their work but don’t like the company culture. It might be that they don’t love their work but aspire to a different role at the company that fits their passion. Or it might be that they need to leave the company to pursue their true passion. Regardless of why someone doesn’t love their job, it’s up to you as a leader to help them find a role they’re passionate about—whether it’s at your company or elsewhere.
It’s the right thing to do. Both the individual and the company will be better off.