Are you in love with your job?
Chances are, you’re not. Scott Dinsmore’s 2012 TED Talk, “How to Find Work You Love,” cited a statistic claiming that over 80 percent of people do not enjoy the work they do.
In this same talk, Dinsmore tells his personal story of coming to the realization that doing work because someone told him he had to build his resume, instead of doing something he was passionate about, was making him unhappy.
We all have rough days at work. One bad day doesn’t necessarily mean you actually hate your work. If it becomes a pattern, though, you might need to ask yourself a few questions to figure out if it’s time to consider a career change.
Is my work fueling or depleting my energy levels?
Whether you love it or you don’t, work is work. You are always going to come home from a long day or sign out of your email in your home office feeling a little low on energy, both mentally and physically.
Our brains constantly use up glucose to function, which is why it’s harder to think and problem-solve at the end of the day. So it’s natural to feel tired when the end of your work day finally arrives.
There’s a difference between feeling low on energy because you had a good day full of hard, fulfilling work and feeling completely drained because you didn’t enjoy any of the work you did today, and are dreading having to do it all over again tomorrow.
Work that you love will leave you feeling tired but satisfied. You will be able to push through a little sleepiness to keep doing what you enjoy.
In a way, doing that kind of work will fuel your energy instead of deplete it. No matter how hard you have to work to get the job done, it’s something you are willing to do.
That ‘natural high’ you get when you’re doing something you truly enjoy comes from hormones called endorphins. If going to work makes you feel good and gives you a sense of natural energy, you can be pretty confident you’re in the right place.
If you’re constantly dragging your feet, even when trying to make the most of your work situation, it’s probably time to rethink your choice of job.
Does my work line up with my personal goals?
Everyone, whether they know it or not, has a mission statement.
Ideally, that mission statement is a reflection of what you would willingly spend the rest of your life doing. In a sense, it’s your passion. It’s what gets you out of bed in the morning and makes you want to succeed.
Yet passion alone isn’t enough. Passion won’t get you that job you really want, the one that will replace the one you feel trapped in right now. You need skills and experience, which your current job might not be teaching or providing for you.
How do you balance your passion with your career? Is it doable?
Thomas Frank, founder of College Info Geek, thinks so. He posted a video earlier in 2016 addressing the issue of passion when it comes to choosing a career path.
In order to know what kind of work you want to do, you need to be willing to learn new skills and gain experience in a specific field. You won’t last very long learning those skills and gaining that experience if it doesn’t align with your goals.
Let’s use the medical field as an example here. The years and amount of hard work it takes someone to get from undergraduate pre-med program to practicing physician probably doesn’t seem worth it if you have no interest in entering that field.
Yet someone with a goal to study medicine so they can help provide better care for patients in the area where they grew up will not mind those years and amount of work. They will make sacrifices to learn the skills and gain the expertise necessary to practice medicine, because that work aligns perfectly with their goals
If you’re really struggling to find the motivation to get your work done, take some time to re-evaluate whether or not your job description and personal goals match up.
Is my work constantly challenging me in a good way?
We are constantly searching for fulfillment in everything we do. So when we get to a point in our jobs where we’re starting to do the exact same thing every day with no promise of change or advancement, it puts us in a tough spot.
While Scott Dinsmore’s story of quitting his corporate job to explore career options he was more passionate about is both inspiring and a message worth hearing, it isn’t always feasible to hand in your two-week notice the next time you walk into work.
Finding a job you love isn’t easy. It’s possible, but the trouble is, you don’t always know exactly what you’re getting into until you’re a few months into the job.
For your work to truly be fulfilling, you have to want to accept challenges through that work and be willing to learn new things.
If you don’t feel challenged by the tasks your job requires you to complete, or you dread having to learn new skills as your job description changes over time, you might need to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re ready for a new kind of challenge.
That doesn’t mean you have to quit, though. Maybe there’s a different position in your company you would be better suited for, or a project you can work on with your boss’s permission. Explore your options. Challenges like these don’t find you: you have to seek them out.
Finding work you love means looking more deeply at your interests and strengths. What energizes you from the inside out? What are your goals? What kind of work challenges yet excites you?
If you can find the right tools and parts to craft a career you enjoy, it won’t seem much like work to you at all.