How to find a job you love
Ah, working for a living. You get your money every two weeks (or monthly) in exchange for your time, effort, and brain power. Sometimes you love your job. Other times it’s just so-so. And sometimes it plain sucks. But we all need money to live, so it’s off to work we go whether we like it or not. For many people, it’s a 40-50 year commitment before retirement.
The great part about working, though, is you have some choice about what you do and where you do it. If you’re not happy in your current work, you have the power to leave and find a job you love. But finding a job you love isn’t just about looking at job descriptions – it’s about who you are and what you truly want.
If you’ve ever asked yourself how you can find a job you love, continue reading.
Write out what you loved from previous work
Love is an interesting concept when it comes to work. Some people think it doesn’t matter and that you should just do what you’re qualified for to make the money you need. They believe you get your enjoyment out of the rest of your life. However, you can also get enjoyment out of a job you love. After all, you’re spending most of your waking hours in life at work in some way.
To find a job you love, start with what you loved from previous jobs.
Think about every past job you’ve ever done, from the part-time job during school up to the last company you were at (or the last job you held at your current company). From there, write out everything you loved about it. Truly, everything. It could be something little like you had a funny coworker all the way to the big things like career trajectory and mentorship.
As you write out everything you love, try to expand on why you loved it as well. Even if the reason is a simple “it felt good” or “I liked the funny coworker because I like laughing,” knowing a bit more about why you like something is more helpful than just knowing what you like. When you know why you like, you can communicate it properly in your job search. You can also figure out different ways to accomplish the same goal so that you aren’t stuck looking for a hyper-specific job just because you want a funny coworker, for example.
When you want to create your future, one of the best ways to do it is to take a look at what worked in your past. By identifying what you loved from previous work, you set yourself up to know what you might want to look for in your next work. That puts you one step closer to finding a job you love.
Think about what you do in your spare time
When looking for a job you love, some people fall into the trap that you have two versions of your life and of yourself. There’s the “real” version of you that comes out with friends and family. And then there’s the “work” version of you that you show from 9 am to 5 pm before you head home for the night. However, it doesn’t need to be that way. In fact, you can – and should – inform your job search based on what you love in all of your life.
If you want to find a job you love, think about what you do in your spare time.
When you don’t have any obligation to spend time on something but do anyway, that’s a big signal you love doing that task or activity. This kind of knowledge can help you in the job search in a big way.
Once you’ve thought about what you do in your spare time, think about what it is about the task or activity that you love.
For example, if you love reading, think about why. Do you love gaining new knowledge? Is it that you enjoy being alone with your thoughts? Or do you really like the idea of getting caught up in a story (and sometimes even creating “fanfiction” of your own)? The different reasons you like a hobby like reading could help you identify what really drives you in a career.
Or if you love gaming. Is it because of the thrill of the challenges in the game? Is it because of the side-quests and multiple layers of character depth? Or how about the techy side of it – you love getting to interact with the latest features and technologies? This could lead to many different careers (including game developer!), so pay attention to how you spend this time and what makes you excited about it.
Identifying what you do in your spare time, simply because you love it, can help in the job search because it helps you identify what kinds of feelings or activities you’d want in a job you love. When you know what really gets you excited and feeling fulfilled, you can begin to look at different kinds of work that offer what you really want.
Think about the “work” you already do for free
Working for free can be a great way to figure out what you love. And no, this doesn’t mean doing a paid job for free. Instead, think about the things you do that are technically “work” but you do it happily in other areas of your life.
For example, if you love cooking and baking. There are many people who do this as a job – they are called chefs. If this is something you really love in a way that makes you happy every time you do it, it could be an interesting career.
There are many instances of entrepreneurs and successful leaders in their jobs starting with passion for something and doing it initially “for free.”
Martha Stewart is one famous example. She was a housewife and loved entertaining. She’d experiment in her kitchen and try new ideas on friends and family. When they kept telling her how much they loved her food – and even how they wanted her to cater for them – she started a small catering business. That kept growing and eventually she built the global lifestyle brand that we all know today.
On the job front, Martha could have just as easily gotten a job as a chef in a restaurant if she loved the cooking part the most. For her, though, it was about the entertaining and enjoyment people get from eating her food, not necessarily being in the kitchen and cooking all day. That’s the reason knowing why you like something is so important. But in either case, she took something she used to do “for free” and turned it into a thriving business and career for herself.
A similar thing happens in the traditional employment world. Many accountants started out as kids that loved math growing up. Many developers started out as people who fell in love with computers and tinkered with them in their spare time. So take a look at the “work” you do for free in your life – it could be the ticket to a job you love.
Talk to people who love their jobs
When you meet someone you find interesting or who has a job you think is cool, it can be tempting to want to learn more about that person. Give into that temptation! Do your best to get to know that person and learn more about who they are and what they do.
If you’re looking to find a job you love, talk to people who love their jobs. They can provide you with in-depth insight about what they looked for in a role, how they figured out what they loved, and the path they took to getting where they are today. It may not match up perfectly to your experience, but it can provide a lot of inspiration for your search.
Reaching out to connect with these people can be easy. If you know them or have connections to them, a simple introduction may be all that’s needed. If you’ve met before but don’t know each other well, a well-crafted email or LinkedIn invite can break the ice. When it’s someone you don’t know at all (the CEO of a global company, for example), you can “get to know them” by reading interviews with them or following them on social media.
Remember for any reach out to know what you want to ask. Whether busy or not, people are being generous with their time if they agree to connect with you. So be as specific as you can about what you want to learn from them (and share a bit about your journey so far, so they can help you with more specific answers).
Think about what you loved as a child
Growing up, you probably had a few things that you absolutely loved. Maybe you wanted to be a ballerina, or an astronaut, or a firefighter. Maybe you loved books, horses, sports, or action figures.
Whatever it is – write it down! Document everything you remember about what you loved as a kid (and ask your parents if you can). Then think about why you loved it. Did the action figures make you feel cool? Maybe did you want to be a firefighter because you thought they were brave? Did you want to be a ballerina because you thought they were beautiful?
The more you think about what excited you as a kid, the more you learn about what you truly love.
While some of the options may not be feasible for you now – for example, becoming an astronaut takes years of schooling – you may be able to find a job that fulfills you in other ways. So if you can’t become an astronaut, perhaps you could work for a space-tech company doing another job. Or maybe you could become a travel journalist that writes about exploring uncharted territory.
The more you know about why you liked something, the easier it will be to find a job that matches a few, or even most, of those reasons.