15 Mar Love your work!
“Find the work you love” was the clear advice from speakers at the 14th LBS Women in Business Conference on Friday. Each speaker had done this, and as a result their enthusiasm, commitment and determination came shining through as an inspiration to women and men everywhere.
A handful of people know from an early age where their passion lies and then find or create work that follows their heart. They often say that work doesn’t really feel like work at all. But what about the rest of us?
I’m reminded of the old phrase: “Do what you love, and love what you do”.
Taking the first part, how do you find what you love, so that you can do it? Start easy, looking at your current role. Where’s the balance between the tasks you love and the ones you dread? There’s probably no role where you get to do 100% fun stuff, but if the balance is severely in the other direction, you’ve got some thinking to do! Explore the elements that you do like – not just in terms of the task but also the skills you’re using. Simple stuff perhaps, but do you prefer writing or talking? Researching or explaining? Leading others or doing it yourself? What are the topics that fire you up? You can increase your self-knowledge further by looking at recent feedback and completing online questionnaires (eg Edgar Schein’s Career Anchors are worth exploring).
With the insights you’ve gained, consider whether there are ways to bring more of your preferences and strengths to your current role. Obviously some roles are more flexible than others, but even if you can shift the balance a little, you’ll feel happier and more motivated. If you’re itching for more change, voluntary work is an excellent way to explore new roles and ways of working. There are hundreds of opportunities on do-it.org.uk (and no doubt other places too). A voluntary role will not only give you the chance to try new skills, it also builds your network and expands your CV – if you’re seriously unhappy where you are, these could be very valuable.
With luck, these insights and actions will help you get closer to the work you love. But what about the other side of the saying “…love what you do”.
For me, this is about acknowledging that every role has some less interesting elements, and that you have the choice over the mindset you’ll approach them with. If you’re looking at a pile of filing (electronic or real) and thinking “ugh, look at that filing – what a pain…” you’re probably going to keep putting it off and when you do get around to it, the pile will be twice the size and you’ll resent the time. This may sound crazy, but I’ve found it really helps simply to change the way you think about the task. Saying “I’m choosing to do the filing, as I’ll be able to find things quickly and have a nice, clear desk/inbox” turns the whole thing round. You could even take it further, and use it as a mindfulness exercise… Being more aware of your thinking and choosing a more positive outlook means that even if you can’t do what you love right now, you can at least like what you’re doing.
Do what you love, and love what you do. What will you do today to get closer to what you love doing?