For some people, the idea of loving your job sounds like a pipe dream. But there are three traits elements that very clearly and demonstrably affect job satisfaction and can, yes, even mean job love. Ready to hear what they are? Read on…
I’m a big fan of books about scientific studies on happiness, satisfaction, focus, flow, and all of those other seemingly elusive elements. But one of the books I finished last weekend had such an impact on me that I just couldn’t help but want to share.
When we’re mired in jobs we don’t like, it can seem next to impossible to even imagine one you’d like. If you feel like you’re beating your head against a career wall, it’s likely that the only job you want is something along the lines of, “sit at home and eat ice cream.”
But let’s say you’re ready to get serious about making your career make you happy. Well, it turns out that there are three elements to look for that will all but guarantee that your new job or new career will be something you love.
Here’s what to structure your job hunt around:
1. Do something that makes use of your talents. By and large, people who worked in a job that let them utilize a skill that they have some degree of talent in are much happier than those people who do not.
This is not to say that people have to be extremely good at something or have completely mastered it (you’ll see why in a moment); it simply means that they’re able to put a natural talent to work.
And this makes sense, doesn’t it? Someone who’s naturally good with numbers is likely going to be happier as an accountant than as a customer service rep. Someone who’s good at writing is likely going to be happier as a copywriter than as a social worker. And these people might be happy in other jobs, but those jobs in which they can use their natural talents a lot are naturally going to be a better fit.
2. Do something that challenges you a bit. If your job is too easy for you, you’ll be miserable. In the midst of a massively stressful job, it can seem like a mindless job is exactly what you need. And that might be a nice break, but it won’t be long before you’ll get bored. Job boredom is just another form of misery.
At the risk of sounding like one of the three bears, you need a job that’s not too easy and not to hard, but just right. Your job should challenge you, but you should be able to work through those challenges with a reasonable amount of effort and brainpower. Too much challenge makes you feel impotent, too little makes you feel bored. But just right? That’s the sweet spot.
And that’s why even if you’re using your talents, you don’t need to be a master at them. Even if you’re a great copywriter, your job should still challenge you to use your copywriting skills to solve new problems and come up with unique solutions.
3. Find meaning in what you’re doing. This was the insight that was really an a-ha moment for me. It’s the first point in the book “Are You Fully Charged?” by Tom Rath and that alone makes it worth reading.
It’s easy to think that the solution to job misery lies in a new job, or in a new industry but, even with the first two points in this list covered, you might still despair. The key seems to be to find meaning in the work that you do.
And that doesn’t just mean that you have to work for a non-profit. If you work for an ad agency that advertising insurance, you’re helping people understand and find ways to protect themselves and their families. If you work for a company that sells vacuums, you’re helping people find a way to keep their homes clean as easily as possible.
As I’ve said before, copywriting isn’t about trying to trick people into buying things. That’s not a good strategy for anyone, and it doesn’t work in the long term, anyway.
What copywriting is about is connecting people who have a problem with the solution to that problem, and doing that by writing copy that deeply connects with the target audience. And solving problems for people, helping people, is about as deep of meaning as you can find.
Your turn! How have your jobs included (or not included!) these elements? Let us know in the comments below.