Find a job you love, or love the job you find?

by K B , updated on March 5, 2015

Every four weeks like clockwork, I have a date with my hairdresser Jamie Furlan. I’ve had this ongoing appointment for over three years now. This has become a ritual for many reasons. Besides the fact that he is an award-winning hairdresser, I am entranced by his artistic skill and cutting edge detail. It’s easy to spot passion when you see it.

Passion is a controversial topic these days – it’s a difficult conversation to have. Life throws a myriad of pressures, so it’s understandable that dreams and passions become secondary priorities. Questions such as, ‘what did you dream to be as a kid’ or ‘if you knew you could not fail, what would you do as a job’ are better left for another time, especially during a global recession, financial crisis and natural disasters.

Depending on where you are in the world right now, you may be forced to stay in a job that you do not like for financial reasons, or you may be faced with unemployment. Other people, such as in Australia, can be more selective as employers face labor shortages in many key industries.

Whatever your situation, please take heart that it is never too late to experience at least a little more fulfillment and perhaps even more purpose in your work. Our careers are fluid – they change like the seasons, with most people changing careers three or four times throughout life either through choice or due to unforeseen circumstances. You will have many highlights and possibly some periods that you would like to forget.

Next time you shop or meet someone in the midst of their workday, pay attention to how they carry out their work. You’ll soon notice those that genuinely love what they do. Serving fries is robotic for some, while for others, it’s like the final stroke to the Mona Lisa. It’s a fascinating experiment to do and can be very thought provoking – how can two people in the same role approach it in such different ways?

Recent research from Penn University and the University of Michigan (Ross School of Business) encourages you to view your work as a flexible set of building blocks. The magic moment of when you will finally make it in your career is illusory, as you will never stop learning and growing as a person. Research instead suggests that each person has a set of character strengths – something that brings a sense of satisfaction and energisation when that strength is carried out at work. For example, it could be a love of learning, a genuine desire to connect with others, an unwavering sense of honesty, or even a side splitting sense of humor. The key is to find ways to use these strengths more often at work.

The best part about this approach is that it takes no time at all. For example, take the love of learning. You can start learning new things at work anytime, by seeking out new responsibilities, starting your own projects or asking your boss for ideas on how you could experience your role in a new way. If you love connecting with others, you could take more time to genuinely connect with your customers or find new ways to help others at work. If you value honesty, see if you can apply this character trait throughout your working day – perhaps by being more honest with your boss about how you are feeling and what you would like to see changed, or possibly by helping improve questionable work practices when you see them.

If the above strengths are likely to land you in trouble in the workplace, then it could be time to take a risk by leaving your job. Waking up in the morning with a sense of dread or feeling of anxiety is a sure sign of you being in the wrong set of circumstances at work. Employers who exploit your unique strengths should also be re-evaluated, as despite financial pressures, life is too short to suppress your core values and strengths. Quitting your job may require trusting the universe, for I have never met anyone who has not received help when it is generally asked for. This could be the universe nudging you to make changes in your life with the support of some loving friends or professionals who have the training to help you.

Whatever the set of circumstances, you may just find a renewed sense of passion by re-conceptualising your current job to use your character strengths more often or by finding a role that matches your character strengths more closely. At the very least, consider finding inspiration by watching others carry out their work. You might be amazed at what you discover.

This post is from Steven Solodky a career coach in Melbourne and Founder of


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Meg Montford (@KCCareerCoach) August 22, 2011 at 5:35 am

Gr8 blog post! Inspirational for those feeling stuck. RT @InterviewIQ: Find a job you love, or love the job you find?

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