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How can you answer this question?  It’s a hard question to answer.  All the professional development books I’ve read preach the need for everyone to find work that they love.  They say if you don’t find love in work, it will function as a money-generating-time-suck instead of adding meaningfulness to your life.

I agree with this idea– it actually seems fairly obvious.  However, these personal development authors neglect to cover how a person is supposed to identify if they actually love their work.  It seems like a grey area to me.  Is it when the person is doing very well at his/job and advances quickly?  Is it if they don’t mind working long hours?  Is it when the employee is really excited about the company?  What if the person enjoys being there 85% of the time, with the balance of 15% reserved for client headaches and the annoying tasks?  85% isn’t that bad if you think about it.

I’ve thought about this long and hard over the years and I have the answer (at least for me).  I heard Steve Jobs speak on a person’s love of career years ago and his thoughts have stuck with me, overriding all other’s opinions and author commentary.

In a commencement address given to the graduating students of Stanford University, Steve Job’s stated the following:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your lives, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it, yet keep looking.  Don’t settle.  As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know it when you find it.

If you’re like me and try to overcomplicate the question of whether or not you love your work, you will never have an answer.  What you need to do is take a step back and ask yourself plainly, do you love what you are doing?  There will always be annoying, stressful, or long days—but do you love the underlying work you’re doing; the value that your contributing to the world?  A good test– would you keep pursuing your work if you had a bank account with $50,000,000 in it (once you are over riding dolphins and having cash bonfires for fun)?

I believe when you do find the work you love, you will no longer be asking the question.  It will seem obvious at that point.  Like the love of a personal relationship, there will be up and downs, but your love for the person is a constant.  All other details and situations become secondary.

If you haven’t found it yet, keep searching and never settle.  It’ll be worth all the effort.

Eric


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