3 reasons to love your job — or leave it

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There’s an idea that we all should love work—that our jobs should be inspiring, energizing, and somehow perfectly aligned with how and when we want to live our lives outside of work. That sounds good, but it’s not all too realistic.

“My job is just okay,” a friend told us recently. “I’m just not very motivated by it or the people I work with. It pays the bills for now.”

Other people have approached both of us on numerous occasions to spiritedly explain how much they dislike their jobs and ask for our advice on whether or not we think it’s time for them to quit. One woman—who had held her job for six years—actually said, “I cry myself to sleep at night because I hate it so much.”

And then there was a young man named Chase. We chuckle at the irony of his first name to this day. And you’ll understand why in a second. Chase told us that he had worked at seven different jobs in the past four years. “I was recently told by a hiring manager that although I had the right experience and qualifications, that they were worried about my job-hopping.” We asked Chase if he chose to leave each job or if he had been let go. He responded, “Oh no. I left them. They weren’t a good fit. And, I’ve always been told that if you find a job you love, then you’ll never work another day of your life.”

The truth about loving your work has become muddled. The truth is, none of us will love every aspect of our job. We won’t love every co-worker, vendor, or client. We won’t love every piece of office furniture. We won’t love every project, or task associated with every project. We won’t love the fact that our work sometimes pulls us away from something we’d rather be doing. In fact, the truth is, there will be aspects of every job, in every industry, at every company, and in every corner of the globe that has something we find utterly bothersome and frustrating. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn to love our job. Here’s three reasons why:

1. It’s wreaking havoc on your health. For decades now researchers have been studying the negative physical effects things like stress can have on your body—increased risk of heart disease, weight gain, weakened immune system, and the list can go on and on. It also takes a huge toll on your mental health and can lead to depression and anxiety. And, let’s face it, if you’re not happy to get up in the morning and head to work—you might also be unknowingly damaging your relationships. You need to learn to love your job, and all its quirky frustrations, just to keep yourself healthy.

2. It will lead to regret. Think back to when you were young. Ever regret not trying out for the team, or sticking your neck out to see if you could get the lead role in the play? Imagine arriving at the end of your career and looking back and thinking, “I never loved one single second of it.” In fact, research shows the different thought processes of employees as they make their way through their career. After 25 or 30 years on the job employees report a strong sense of triumph about their careers and their accomplishments. Learn to love your job (at least a portion of it) so you can not only avoid regret, but feel triumphant about your accomplishments.

3. It slays your performance, and your future potential. Holding on to a job you dislike simply for the convenience, or the stability, or the paycheck might sound like a responsible thing to do. However, how hard are you willing to push yourself for something you don’t love? Not very hard. Consider how years of not expecting your best from yourself marginalizes your own growth. It stifles learning, lowers the bar, and changes the way you identify your own abilities. Research shows that more than anything else, a job-well done (where you’ve made a positive difference in someone’s life and they recognize you for it) is not only the most sought-after reward, but it’s the one thing most likely to propel you to your next great achievement.

How do I learn to love my work?

Learning to love your work isn’t always easy, however it’s probably a lot easier than you think. It’s starts by assessing why you’re working in your job. Think back to when you first read the job description. There’s a reason you chose to apply to your company. And, you were probably excited about your future. Recall what excited you. What were you going to accomplish there? Why did you think you were the best fit? When you have clearly defined the role you wish were playing, figure out how to make it come true. Figure out how to produce great work.

Learning to love your job may not lead to perfection in the workplace. But take this piece of advice seriously: if you don’t learn to love it, you will lose it—by your own doing, or someone else’s.

This post was originally published on Forbes.

By david sturt and todd nordstrom
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