Whether you work a typical 9-5, you’re a grade school teacher, you do freelance work, or you’re juggling multiple jobs, there are times when you might question whether you’re pursuing the right career.
Maybe you might feel frustrated by the challenges that accompany your position. Perhaps you’re bored with the constant repetition of your responsibilities. Maybe you deal with some challenging coworkers day in and day out.
Whatever your reason, you find yourself wondering whether you should continue this position or not.
Does this scenario sound familiar?
If so, then you’re going to love this week’s podcast because we are taking a deep dive into how you can love your job today…yes, even your job.
Because here’s the deal…
It’s not your job that’s making you miserable.
Really, it’s true.
And what’s more, you can love the job you’re in right now without having to change your circumstances.
Simply listen to this week’s episode and find out how! (You can also find the transcript following this post.)
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE!
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL DISCOVER…
- The reason why you’re unhappy with your job.
- Ways to think differently about your job.
- My top four strategies for how to love your job.
LINKS FROM THE PODCAST
- Sign up for a free 1:1 coaching session with me here!
- Check out Cal Newport’s book So Good They Can’t Ignore You here!
SUBSCRIBE AND REVIEW
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Do you ever feel frustrated in your career? What do you find challenging about your job? What do you love about your job? Let me know below!
Transcript: How to Love Your Job
You’re listening to the I’m Busy Being Awesome Podcast with Paula Engebretson Episode 17
Hey, my busy-awesome friends! How are you today? Are you staying warm where you are?
I’ve got to tell you; it is downright cold in Boston right now. I think the windchill is something like 12 degrees outside, which – in case anyone’s wondering – is way too cold for November.
But anyway, I hope that wherever you’re listening, you are toasty warm and ready to dive into an awesome topic today all about finding joy in your job.
How to Love Your Job
Now, let me give you a little backstory about where this topic came from.
I spend a lot of time coaching women who currently have a day job, whether it’s a 9-5, or a teaching position, or whatever. And they also have a side hustle like an MLM business, or a blog, or they’re a social media influencer, etc.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve talked with several clients who feel super frustrated with their regular day job. They’ve been feeling unfulfilled. They feel like they don’t have time to work on their side business. They feel stuck. All sorts of negative emotions. And they’ve been wondering how to work through this.
They question whether it’s the job that’s the problem. They wonder whether they should switch jobs. Should they just go all-in on their side hustle and figure it out along the way? All sorts of different options have come up in our discussions.
And this seems to be the general status quo, right? Often when we’re feeling unfulfilled in our job, or we don’t like the position, or we’re bored, we think the only solution is to switch jobs.
And in some situations, this might be a good option.
However, there are also times when perhaps leaving your job is not an option logistically or financially. And perhaps even more importantly, many people find that when they leave their job to escape the frustration or the overwhelm or dissatisfaction, they end up finding those same problems in the next job.
Now, this is not meant to sound like Debbie Downer bad news. Although it may come across that way right now. In reality, this is actually good news, again – the reason why you are unhappy in your current position is because of the thoughts you have about that position.
Your Thoughts About Your Job: Clean Up Your Thinking
If you’ve been following along on the podcast for a while, you know that it is not the job that is causing you to feel frustrated or stuck.
Just like the to-do list I talked about last week, the job is neutral. The job simply exists and it cannot cause you to feel one way or another. Instead, it is our thoughts about that job that are causing us to experience these negative emotions.
Our brains adhere closely to the confirmation bias. If you’re constantly thinking to yourself, this job is unfulfilling, your brain is going to actively seek out evidence to prove that thought true. You will focus on the small tasks you hate doing. You’ll dread attending the morning meetings. You’ll notice all of the annoying quirks your colleague does all the time. Your brain is constantly scanning for evidence to prove your thoughts true, so when you’re thinking negatively, that’s what you’re going to find.
So the first step in uncovering that passion for your job is learning to manage your mind. This is absolutely the most crucial step, and it’s what I’ve been working with for my client a lot recently. So if you find yourself struggling with negative thoughts about your current position, the first step is to clean up that thinking.
If you want any help getting started on this, definitely take advantage of the free coaching session I offer. They’re 30-minute sessions, one-on-one with me, and we’ll talk about these thoughts and how to get you looking at your current position in a new way. Just head to www.imbusybeingawesome.com/freesession and we’ll get you moving in the right direction.
Strategies to Find Passion for Your Job
Now once you are thinking more clearly about your job, there are some important tactical strategies that you can use to help you start finding passion in your current job or career.
And these strategies are inspired a lot by a recent book I read by Cal Newport called So Good They Can’t Ignore You. I will link to this book in the show notes; it’s definitely an interesting perspective on creating a career that you love.
Now the premise of Newport’s book is that the common advice of “following your passion” to find the perfect career for you is a bit flawed. And in the book, he offers a whole bunch of reasons why he supports this idea that following your passion is a flawed strategy. As a side note, I certainly recommend checking out his book if you’re interested in learning more about this idea.
Craftsman Mindset: Create Your Passion on Purpose
What I found is especially compelling about Newport’s research, however, were his ideas behind creating passion in your job deliberately.
And this idea aligns well with my own belief and the ideas I’ve learned from my coach, which are: it is not your job’s job to make you happy. Remember, your job is neutral. It is your job to think deliberately about your career in ways that help you uncover that passion, that excitement, and that sense of fulfillment.
And what Newport called this approach is developing a Craftsman mindset. And one of the most powerful questions that you can ask yourself when thinking about this Craftsman’s mindset is this: What can you offer your job?
Now, if you’re like most people, this feels completely counterintuitive. Often times when we think about our jobs, and we’re feeling unhappy about our jobs, we’re focusing on all of the things that the job does not offer us.
We think, “the job doesn’t give me flexible hours.” Maybe we think, “the job demands way too much of me.” Or, “my coworkers are unbearable, and they hold me back from getting anything done.” Or maybe we think, “this job is just so boring. I think I am going to die of boredom.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, these thoughts are not super helpful in inspiring passion for our current situation. And in fact, these are the wrong thoughts to be thinking altogether. If you want to experience passion in your work, you need to be asking yourself better questions.
Ask Better Questions
And one of the first questions you need to ask yourself is this: “what do I have to offer my job?” “How can I set myself apart from my colleagues and from others in my field?” “What can I do to bring value to this job?”
Even asking yourself this simple question can help you shift your mindset and look at your current position differently. Now rather than depending on your job to entertain you or provide you with fulfillment, you are turning inward and looking at yourself. How can you show up as the best version of you and offer value to that job?
As Newport’s book title reminds us, you need to be so good that they can’t ignore you.
So how can you stand out in your position? How can you challenge yourself to think differently, do differently, and show up differently in your current job? And then, of course, one of my favorite questions to tack on to the end of these questions is, how can I make this more fun?
How can I stand out in my position and make it fun in the process?
Your brain might immediately want to say I don’t know or it’s not possible. But I challenge you to spend a little time exploring these questions. How can you add more value to your position? What do you offer your job? How can you set yourself apart from your colleagues or others in your field? And how can you do this while also having fun? Play around with these questions. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
Because when you offer incredible value to your job, then, in turn, you become more valuable to that job. And this is important, my friends.
When you offer something so valuable to your position, your employer and your colleagues recognize this unique value. And once this happens, you often have so much more leverage, flexibility, and “say” in how this particular position continues unfolding going forward. You have more weight behind your requests and ideas because of the value you bring to the table.
And the flexibility, and freedom, and recognition for our abilities are what further contributes to our feelings of excitement and passion for our current position.
Mastery: How to Love Your Job
Now another way to create joy and fulfillment in your career is an extension of the question of “how can I add value to my job?”.
And this is the idea of mastery.
You see, sometimes we feel unfulfilled or frustrated about our jobs because they’re downright hard. We don’t like what we’re doing. We feel constantly overwhelmed. Or maybe it’s a skill set that’s out of our current comfort zone.
And one of the things that I love the most about Newport’s ideas revolves around this idea of deliberate practice. Because here’s the deal, there is an important difference between constant repetition and intentional or deliberate practice.
Now when you’re just starting out in a position or learning a new skill, constant repetition can indeed help you improve and move toward mastery. However, when you focus solely on repetition without much intentional practice behind it, you eventually reach a plateau. You reach a level in your career where things are “good enough,” and you are able to get by with that level of skill.
Not surprisingly, this is when feelings of boredom, burnout, and frustration start to sink in. And this is also when the importance of deliberate or intentional practice really comes to the foreground.
What is Deliberate Practice?
So what does this mean? What is intentional practice?
The example that Newport gave in his book was the idea of practicing as a musician, which resonated with me because I played the trumpet from 5th grade through my undergraduate career. So needless to say, I’ve done my fair share of practicing.
And the difference between intentional practice and repetition practice is this. If I am just practicing through repetition, I might open up my assignments for the week and just run through the music without much thought. I go through the motions, I do my warm-ups, I go through the technical passages and the lyrical passages, and once I reach the end, I put my horn away.
And this type of practice did help me catch my major mistakes, and I could show up to my private lessons prepared. However, the progress I made with this type of repetition practice was much slower than when I practiced intentionally.
So if I was doing intentional practice, I might practice the technical section at an increasingly fast pace. I would take my metronome and begin practicing the passage at one tempo, and once I had that down I would click the metronome up a couple of notches so the tempo was just slightly faster. Then I would work on the passage at that speed. And then I would click it up a few more notches and I would work on it and that speed. And I would continually try to improve my performance as I worked toward mastery of that particular passage.
So in other words, you are working deliberately to stretch your abilities beyond your comfort zone while also seeking feedback – whether from teachers or colleagues or friends — in the process.
Now let’s put this more in a typical 9 to 5 position. How can this relate to you?
Well, maybe you need to deliver a pitch to potential clients or to your boss. And normally what you would do is write up your presentation and practice it over and over until you feel comfortable with the material. Now, this is a great step. This would get you moving forward, it would help you feel prepared, and the presentation would probably go fine.
But, if you are looking to embrace the Craftsman mindset, and you want to focus on offering as much value as possible to the company, what more can you do to take it to the next level? How can you get closer to this idea of mastery?
Maybe instead of simply practicing the presentation over and over, maybe you record yourself, and you take note of your mannerisms and your vocal delivery and you practice different ways that you can improve the visual component of your presentation rather than strictly focusing on the content.
Maybe you practice the presentation for a colleague or your partner and you ask them for feedback – no matter how uncomfortable that may be – in order to get that valuable outside perspective. By taking those extra steps, and moving a little bit outside of your comfort zone, you are moving toward intentional practice, which takes your work to the next level.
Find Your Purpose and Uncover Your Passion
Now the final – and I think the most – powerful way to uncover more passion and excitement for your current job is to tune in to your own personal sense of purpose in the world.
So often we believe that our jobs give us a sense of purpose. Just as we talked about at the beginning of the podcast when we discussed the misconception that our jobs should make us happy, we also think that our jobs should give us fulfillment or provide us with that sense of purpose.
But again, our jobs are neutral. The way that we experience that sense of purpose is completely through our thoughts. It is about how we think about our position.
So in order to find purpose in your work, I encourage you to take some time and think about your purpose generally. What is it that makes you excited in the world? What is it that lights you up inside?
Is your purpose in the world to be a loving parent? Is your purpose in the world to create art for others? Or is your purpose in the world to start a non-profit? Is your purpose in the world to make a lot of money? Is your purpose in the world simply to love? Or is your purpose in the world to connect with others?
Now please hear me on this — you are going to want to find the “perfect” purpose. Your brain is going to spin out in indecision and stress out over deciding what exactly it is that you are meant to do.
First of all, know that that’s completely okay. Nothing has gone wrong.
Second of all, know that you can change this at any time, so there is no reason to stress. This purpose may change as you evolve and grow, and that’s a beautiful thing.
So take some time and ask yourself, what is it that I want to do in the world? And if your brain starts spinning out and stressing over deciding on the perfect purpose. Ask yourself instead, “what do I want to do in the world right now?”
My current purpose is: To teach others how to live their best lives. And in every area of my life, I strive to make this my primary objective for my work.
And this is the second step in uncovering the passion in your current job. Ask yourself, how can I incorporate this purpose in my position today?
How Can I Include this Purpose in My Career?
Again, your brain is going to want to fight against this. If you’re really spiraling in negative thoughts, your brain will probably shut down the question immediately. It will say there is no way I can have this passion in my job. There’s no way I can follow through on this goal of mine. But I promise you, you can find it.
For example, as a life coach, my purpose comes pretty clearly to the foreground for me. I work one-on-one with clients to uncover their passions and follow through on goals. I do this podcast to share these concepts with anyone who listens in. And I connect on social media with my followers, and I share everything I know in order to help people reach their goals and live their best lives.
But what about as a professor? How am I following through on this purpose when I’m grading papers or preparing for a lecture, for example?
Well, it’s true that the answer might not come as immediately to the foreground as my role as a coach, but it’s certainly there. Because in my role as a professor, I am teaching my students important life skills about how to think critically and explore new concepts and unfamiliar ideas.
I am teaching my students the importance of questioning ideas that they either don’t understand or don’t agree with. I am teaching them how to step out of their comfort zones and to share their ideas even if they’re not 100% confident in their answers. And to me, these are important life skills that will help my students continue pursuing their interests and working toward living that best life they’ve envisioned for themselves.
So while I may not light up about the idea of grading 60 research papers, and I could easily slide into negative thoughts about how much time it’s taking and how I would rather be doing – frankly – anything else, I take a minute and I return to my purpose. And I remind myself that the feedback that I’m giving on these papers is helping my students grow and learn and develop as individuals as they each continue on their own journey to living their best lives.
And when I really take time to embrace this idea and practice this powerful thought, that is when I uncover that sense of fulfillment and purpose in my current position as I pursue this otherwise dreaded task of grading papers.
So as you think about your current position, I encourage you to think broader. What’s your purpose right now? What do you want to be doing with your life in the big picture? What is it that lights you up inside? Once you identify that purpose, then turn to your current position. Start finding ways that this purpose is embedded within that job. I promise you, it is there.
And as always, if you want help exploring these concepts or uncovering what your personal purpose is, I would love to help you do that. Again, just go to www.imbusybeingawesome.com/freesession and we will dive into this important question together.
So, my busy awesome friends. If you find yourself feeling stuck in your job, or if you find yourself wishing that your career brought you more happiness, please give these practices a try.
First, clean up your thinking. Remember, it is not your job’s job to make you happy. Your job is neutral, and it is your thoughts about your job that make you feel excited or dispassionate.
Second, rather than asking what can my job do for me, flip the script. Start asking yourself, what value do I bring to this job? What am I doing for this job?
Third, start seeking mastery through deliberate and intentional practice. Challenge yourself to step a little bit outside of your comfort zone to take your work to the next level.
And finally, think about your purpose in the world. What is it that lights you up right now? Remember, you can always change it. But what is it that gives you a sense of purpose today?
Once you’ve identified this purpose, then start looking for ways that it exists in your current position. You may not believe me yet, but it is in there. And to take it one step further, start identifying how you can introduce that purpose into your position while adding additional value to the company as well.
If you start practicing these four steps, I promise you, you will feel so much more passion and enjoyment in your job no matter what the position.
Quote of the Week
Now this week’s quote comes from Cal Newport’s book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and it reads:
If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re probably stuck at an ‘acceptable level.’Cal Newport
As the saying goes, growth happens just outside of your comfort zone.
So if you’re looking for a life filled with passion and incredible opportunity…if you’re ready for an exceptional life rather than an acceptable life, then it’s time to start getting uncomfortable.
It’s time to start asking yourself, how can I add value to this situation?
How can I intentionally improve upon my skillset?
How can I start living into my values everywhere I go?
As soon as you make this mindset shift, you’ll be finding excitement and passion in everything that you do.
Alright, my friends, that’s going to do it for us this week. So tell me, are you busy being awesome? If so, be sure to snap a picture, throw it up on your Instagram stories, and be sure to tag me @imbusybeingawesome. I would love to cheer you on!
Also, if you want to keep getting more great strategies to increase your productivity, manage your time, and start living your best life, then be sure to hit the subscribe button on your podcast app now. And while you’re there, would you leave me a quick review?
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Until next time, keep being awesome. I’ll talk to you soon.