How to Love What You do (When You Really Don’t)

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You can make changes if you don't like your current position.


As the adage goes, love your job and you’ll never work again. But what if you don’t? Or you think the job you’ll love isn’t quite within reach? If following your bliss has led you directly to a draining 9-to-5 from hell, we bring good news – it is absolutely possible to learn to love what you do. Here’s how:

Master a valuable skill

OK, let’s start at the beginning: try and find a job that fits in with your values and allows a certain level of autonomy. “Try something that’s interesting to you,” says Cal Newport, the author behind So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love. “It doesn’t have to be your one true passion or calling.”

While the role mightn’t set your world on fire at first, Cal promises that your enthusiasm will increase as you master the position. “If you study how people end up passionate about their work, the most common answer is that their passion developed over time, after they built up skills that are rare and valuable.”

Put your ‘passion’ to the side (for now, at least)

Controversial, we know. But, Cal argues that ‘following our passion’ is a flawed cliché. “Pre-existing passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work,” Cal, a Georgetown University professor, explains. “But it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job-hopping.”

Work right

Now that he’s debunked the notion that we should align our passion with what we do for a living, Cal urges us to instead subscribe to the Self-Determination Theory and turn our attention to three other key areas:

Autonomy
Whether it’s flexible hours or managing your own workload, a certain level of independence within your job will help you fall in love with the role.

Competence
Instead of thinking about how much you hate your job, focus your energies on becoming really good at it. Exceptional, even. As your confidence grows, so will your happiness levels.

Relatedness
A sense of kinship among your colleagues is the final ingredient you need in order to love what you do, so try to foster good working relationships where possible.

“The traits that make us happy with our work have little to do with our personality or so-called ‘passion,’” maintains Cal, who believes that if we find a job with a certain level of independence that we can excel in, a “love of the subject will grow with your sense of autonomy and competence.”

Use your skills as leverage

Are you now the master of your craft? If so, you might even be so good that your company or industry considers you invaluable – you are then ready for the next, crucial step. “Once you’re really good at something, that by itself isn’t enough,” says Cal. “You have to use your skills as leverage to take control of your working life, whether through your work hours, vacation time, or projects.” Perhaps that means going freelance, or having enough clout to dictate your projects or hours. The better you are, the more power you posses. Congratulations, you are now the master of your own destiny. Happy now?

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