If satisfaction comes from figuring out what you love to do and doing it, how many of us can claim to be truly satisfied at work? Certainly, Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher, made a wise point when he said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” All of us at some point have experienced this feeling. When you are engaged in doing something you really like, then you don’t feel like that day of work was strenuous or boring. Instead, you enjoyed it, and time flew by. Can we be in this zone every day? Is it even possible? Even those who are lucky enough to follow their passion — photographers, creative directors, pastry chefs, and coaches like me — will tell you that it takes more than passion to make a living.
We all discovered, one way or another, that doing what you love (or #DWYL – yes, it is now a movement with its own hashtag) is only one part of the equation. In fact, there are three key parts to the equation of job satisfaction.
1) You have to like it – the DWYL, following your passion thing.
2) You have to be good at it – talent, skill, etc
3) The world must want it - there must exist a market that will pay for it.
Passion + talent without a market will make you broke. Passion + market without talent will make you fail. Talent + market without passion will make you bored.
So, with that, what do you do if you are currently doing work you are not crazy about? First, get some perspective. Jobs have meaning and purpose to the extent that we give them meaning and purpose. We do this by knowing our values, beliefs, and purpose for living. For example, if you have a mortgage and children to raise, perhaps the main purpose of your job is a paycheck. As we figure out the big picture of these elements, we can put our job into perspective and make our job (whatever that job is) work for us instead of us working for the job.
Second, identify and fix what you can, and—at least for the interim (or until you are in a position to quit)—make peace with and accept what you can’t.
Third, set about gaining as much experience and skills as you can in the current situation as a stepping-stone towards eventually doing work that you love more. In other words, even in this job today, you can work towards your #DWYL future. Work on projects, set and meet goals, and capture an accomplishment or two that you can use as compelling material on an updated resume and in future interviews. Focus on your future. Make the most of the situation and take advantage of every opportunity, small and big, that comes your way. And get a head start on finding work that you love while you are still employed.