Most of our lives are spent at work, and for the large majority of people, that can be a nightmarish thought. Many people today clock in and out of a job that they don’t enjoy. In the worst-case scenario, we actually hate our jobs. The more shocking reality is how many people think this is actually fine. Is it really OK that I don’t love my job?
A study by the Gallup group shows that only 15 percent of employees actually feel engaged at work. So that means that out of the 45.9 million Filipinos who are part of the labor force, there are around 39 million people who don’t see their jobs as a joy. I’ve long believed that work can be meaningful and that it should be. Work was meant to be a blessing, and when we don’t view it that way, it’s easy to get burnt out with our jobs and live a life that’s deprived of meaning and excitement.
But what does it take to find a job that you love? Unfortunately, it takes more than one blog post to fix the problem of work. That’s why I’ve dedicated my life’s work to helping as many people as possible fix the world of work by helping professionals stay inspired at work. But there is something you can do to start. Here are just three tips to help you start getting on track to doing work that you love.
1. Discover An Outward-Oriented Why
Nothing excites a person more at work than a sense of mission. What purpose do you want to serve and how can that purpose serve others? One important aspect of a compelling “why” is that it’s always others-oriented. Studies show that our bodies react best when we take on an altruistic stance. In other words, we’re happiest when we’re serving others. When you do things for others, you ignite a hormone in your body called Oxytocin, which peaks your sense of fulfillment and joy.
So, for instance, if you’re in a customer service job— which can get really toxic especially when you’re facing irate customers— you’re not just taking complaints. You’re solving people’s problems and making their lives easier. The question you should ask yourself is if that’s a mission that connects with your why. If not, it’s time to start that process of discovering what mission you want to serve and find a company whose mission aligns with yours.
2. Build Your Talents into Strengths
We’re all built with our own sets of talents, but those talents will often start out pretty raw. I’m not just talking about talents like singing, dancing, and tying your tongue in a knot (unless you figure out a way to turn those into professions). I’m talking about talents you can turn into professions, like sales, marketing, strategic planning, counseling, planning, project management, and so on.
If you haven’t discovered what those talents are, you should consider taking a personality assessment like Strengthsfinder and Working Genius. These assessments will help you find the working talents that can give more meaning and fulfillment to your job.
3. Celebrate Wins No Matter How Small
There’s a reason why shopping is so addictive— it’s because our bodies are wired to respond to positive rewards. Now, of course overdoing that will also put you in financial ruin, but when we put a healthy balance to rewards for our hard work, they can bring so much fulfillment. I remember the first time I earned my first income from my first business, which was in wedding photography in Boracay. I got paid P5,000, which wasn’t a lot but it meant the world to me at that time. I called my dad out of excitement and told him I was going to save it all. My dad urged me to save a portion and use some of it to celebrate. I’m not the type to splurge at all and would rather see money in the bank or in an investment fund, but I followed his advice. That became a pivotal moment for me because I realized that our work’s output was meant to be enjoyed too.
4. Leave If Necessary
If you’ve done the first three things with all your might and you still don’t feel fulfilled, then don’t feel like you have to stay in your job. There’s no point staying in a place that you’re unhappy, but consider this first— if you leave your current job and transfer to another one will you still feel the same? How many times have you hopped from one job to another to feel the intimate rush the first six months and then fall into a slump again? If necessary, leave. But do so with a desire to see change in the next job— a change in your environment and a change within yourself.
Out of those three practices, none of them have to do with the actual work, your toxic officemates, or your demanding boss because truth is that you have no control over any of those things. What you do have control over is how you respond to your job. I’m also not claiming that doing these things will instantly fix your job.
Which of those three practices can you start actioning on today? What are some things you can do differently to start being more engaged at work?
Patrick Mabilog, patrickmabilog.com