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Should you love your job?

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I am kind of obsessed with the idea of loving my job. Out of my 7 job/career changes, I’d say 5 or 6 were motivated by the fact that I didn’t love what I was doing. I’ve now had enough jobs to understand that it’s impossible (and just plain silly) to expect to love everything about my job, but I still believe that spending 10 hours a day doing something that doesn’t tickle my mind/heart/soul in some way is a sad notion.

My mom thinks I am nuts. A job is a job, it’s a way you make a living and it doesn’t have to be fulfilling or something you’re passionate about, she says. Trying to love what you do for work is too frustrating and it’s better to focus on stability, having time outside of work to actually have a life, and, of course, making a solid income. I disagree, but I can’t ignore her because my mom is one of the wisest people I know. And while what she says seems to counter every bit of career advice that wants to help us find a job we love, I know where she is coming from. She is a realist and she hates setting expectations which will disappoint.

We had a few friends over the other day and got to talking about our jobs. Out of the 12 or so people in the room, all in their early to mid-30s, only two said they loved what they were doing and more than half said they really didn’t like it. So I asked those who were unhappy at work whether how it impacted their life — only one person said it made her miserable overall.

I was jealous. My job satisfaction has a lot to do with my life satisfaction. I actually wish it weren’t so and that I could separate work/other parts of my life a bit better. And while my daughter’s smile can erase a horrible work week, if I am not enjoying my work I am quite grumpy.

So I am curious — do you think it’s important to love your job (OK, really really like your job)?

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25 comments so far...

  • I think your choice should be based on your personality. If you are the type of person who looks for routine and steady pay then you get a job and do what your mom suggests.

    But, if you are the kind of person who has a drive to go out there and look for something you are passionate about then that’s what you do.

    I am definitely the latter. Routine bores me. That’s what I love about this country, all the opportunities it provides. Sky is the limit.

    Vera Babayeva  |  July 29th, 2008 at 10:22 pm

  • I do think you should like your job a lot - maybe not every minute of every day, but most of the time. The reason is exactly what you said - because we spend so much time at work, it goes to quality of life.

    Then again, I can see where the associated stress of a ‘career’ vs. a ‘job’ could be undesirable for someone. I know plenty of people who just want to clock their hours and get home to ‘real life’ and I can see that to a certain degree. But for me, if I’m going to spend this much time, I’m going to give it my…most. ;)

    jane  |  July 30th, 2008 at 7:02 am

  • I think it’s more important that it “fit” than that you love it–but I say that from the relative high ground of working in a job that I love.

    However, I’ve been in jobs before that I didn’t absolutely love, but they hit my key satisfaction requirements, so I was able to remain pretty happy there for a pretty long time. :)

    KatFrench  |  July 30th, 2008 at 9:24 am

  • I think we all deserve to be in a career or job that we love. But it’s personal choice and everyone is different. For me, living with passion and working with passion go hand in hand. As an employee of Corporate America, I longed for something more for so long, but wasn’t sure what options I had. Then I began mynetwork marketing career. And realized I can have more and each day I move closer to letting go of the Corporate World.

    Lisa Willard  |  July 30th, 2008 at 10:36 am

  • I know it may be unrealistic thinking or expecting to love my job, but there’s a huge part of me that says that not only is this possible, it’s preferable. I’ve loved at least something about every job I have had and I think that’s a matter of perspective, finding the good in whatever situation I find myself in.

    I now have 2 “jobs”, two directions that utilize everything I absolutely love about who I am, and I feel like I am finally able to throw all my energy wholeheartedly into things that truly bring me joy. Can we all have this? Sure (not always easily though). Is there often something to “give up” to get that joyful feeling? Possibly. But like Jane said, when you spend so much of your time at something, it flows much more easily if there is some reward, something intrinsically satisfying, about what you’re doing. And often we have so many more choices than at first appearance, so why not dream big?

    Karen Murphy  |  July 30th, 2008 at 11:42 am

  • I think it’s important to like your job, but not so much that you’re complacent and lose the drive to continue growing. That just breeds boredom which leads to unhappiness, over time. Of course, this is just my opinion and may say more about my current place in my career than anything else.

    liz  |  July 30th, 2008 at 11:42 am

  • Nataly, I am totally in your boat. I keep thinking I’m supposed to find something I love (based on the career advice you read all over) but it seems I keep getting stuck in the same old, same old; going to a job I just get through and don’t really feel fulfilled.

    It’s so challenging, particularly when trying to deal with all the corporate stuff that goes on, to work hours and hours at something that just makes you feel sort of “meh”.

    When you figure it out, be sure to let us know, and I’ll do the same.

    Kelly O  |  July 30th, 2008 at 11:47 am

  • oh i am so in this place right now! there are things i DO enjoy about my current job and career. But there are some huge gapping holes that are starting to scream for my attention.
    I have found i am much more motivated to do the work i dont like if i know it is working towards or supporting something i am passionate about. For me, having the ‘big picture’ desire and passion allows me to find joy in the mundane ‘ew’ stuff that just has to get done. Of course the opposite is true as well, when i DON’T feel the passion or desire for the end result, motivating myself to do something i dont want to do can be nearly impossible.

    I keep just trying to think of my current job as a learning experience for my passion/dream job later (whatever that may be, when i figure it out - I will be sure to let you all know! ha!)

    Kate  |  July 30th, 2008 at 1:24 pm

  • This is one of those things that I’d really like, but isn’t essential.

    Just like anything, it’s a matter of personal priority.

    Other things I’d really like:
    a rich husband
    another baby
    a fabulous body
    an immaculate house
    a shorter commute
    a bigger paycheck

    Some, if not all, of those things I could choose to have. But some of the other things I have now would have to give. You know the old saying: You can have anything you want, you just can’t have EVERYTHING you want.

    For me, being the mom I want to be, having the schedule I want to have and having a big enough paycheck all take priority over having a job that I adore. I have a job that I tolerate, working at a company that I really appreciate for its willingness to be flexible with me.

    I’d never heard this before, but I have one co-worker who thinks working in something you feel passionate about is a real mistake. He says it ruins your passion. People who teach skiing, he says, never ski for fun on the weekends anymore. There’s logic in that, I guess, though I wouldn’t mind giving it a try for awhile.

    Jan  |  July 30th, 2008 at 2:17 pm

  • My husband has said something similar to what Jan’s co-worker did; if you turn the hobby or activity you love into your work, then it BECOMES work and you not really fun anymore. I think there may be something to that, but I also think it depends on the person and the work.

    Having said that, I’ve been working in a field I don’t love for over 20 years, so evidently I don’t not love it enough to leave it - but it’s not where I base my life satisfaction, either. But considering how much of our days we spend with our jobs, I think it really does help if you like most of it most of the time!

    Florinda  |  July 30th, 2008 at 2:31 pm

  • I’m in a job I don’t like anymore. At first, it was exciting, first job and all, but it’s a dead end and I just don’t care enough. Plus, a couple of weeks ago, when one co-secretary was on vacation and we were two to deal with the rush that comes shortly before the summer holidays when everybody wants to clear their desks of stuff that has been lying around for weeks and suddenly becomes terribly important, a co-worker yelled at me for minutes that I didn’t get anything right, because apparently, I had sent the wrong documents to a customer 3 weeks before - I checked my e-mail outbox and found that he had just been too stupid to read the correct mail, so I told him (without getting an apology for the attack before) and then disappeared to the bathroom to transform my eye makeup into something usually seen on Alice Cooper, so now, I just stick it out until my boyfriend is done with his studies (someone has to earn the money) and once he has a job, I’m out of there, though I’m not really sure what I want to do…

    Jo  |  July 30th, 2008 at 4:08 pm

  • I think it significantly increases your quality of life when you love your job. Unfortunately, so many people have to suffer daily in jobs they hate. That’s why I cherish the fact that I really do love what I do. However, that wasn’t always the case. That fact makes me appreciate my job now all the more though.

    Shannon (a.k.a. Believer in Balance)  |  July 30th, 2008 at 5:21 pm

  • Hello … I’m new here. Just looking up some sources to help me cope with my decision to start working full-time for the first time since leaving to become a SAHM.

    I didn’t apply for the job I’m taking; it landed in my lap and a mixture of the great pay and benefits along with the fact that it is something meaningful and inspiring is the reason I’m taking it. I don’t think you have to always love your job, but you definitely should be working toward something in your job and when it’s no longer exciting or challenging then it’s time to move on.

    Shawn  |  July 30th, 2008 at 7:00 pm

  • Aaah! Don’t I relate to that. This a favorite argument between my husband and I.

    I have to like what I’m doing. I have to feel my job is a career and it should fulfill my need for intellectual stimulation and achievement. My husband wants to do something that is interesting, but is more motivated by what his job can earn him so that he has a quality life. He loves photography and shoots amazing wildlife pictures. I always encourage him to exhibit and sell his work. He looks at me like I’m crazy. “Why do that? It’s fun now, if I had pressure to make money at it it wouldn’t be fun anymore.”

    So, when my son, almost 20, is struggling with settling on a major that will determine the rest of his life and will that make him happy, my husband and I give two words of advice. So much for consistency in child rearing!

    I think this is an individual thing. I don’t know that I can do something that I don’t like. It may be the job, the company, the people, whatever. If I’m not happy at something that covers 80% of my life, why do it?

    To some extent, most people are like this. Maybe they don’t have to LOVE what they do, but if they don’t like what they do they will leave. isn’t that why people ultimately stay or leave their jobs. It may not be the ultimate in their life, or they way they define themselves, but I have yet to see someone that dislikes their job stay in it for an extended period of time. And if they try to do so, it shows and they usually don’t last long through no decision of their own.

    Michele  |  July 31st, 2008 at 8:58 am

  • I don’t think you need to love your job, but I think you need to love something about it. You can never love a job all the time or 100%, but I think you need to care. For some people the ‘love’ may just be that it keeps a roof over their families head and food on the table. I recently left a job for school to get to a job I ‘loved’. Times got tough and I realised I didn’t like and I was making too much money to be that unhappy.

    Stacey S  |  July 31st, 2008 at 10:51 am

  • What is love, anyway? How does it develop?

    Do you love your kids? How did that happen? Did you make a list of all the things you’re looking for in a kid and then go shopping for one that met all your requirements - with the plan to send it back if you weren’t in love within 3 months? That’s not how it works - not with people, and not with jobs either.

    There has to be a basic compatibility with your values - you really can’t “love” something that you believe opposes your principles. But beyond that, you develop appreciation for your job the same as you do for anything else. Being intimate with your job, giving your whole self to it for those 8 hours (or however many) each day. Being really invested in it, you’ll tend to focus on the good things, do a good day’s work that you can be proud of, help others to achieve their goals within the structure of the workplace, and most rewarding of all, make it a better workplace for everyone.

    There were times I really loved my job, even though there were many things about it that made me want to grind my teeth. I loved that it challenged my intellect and that I worked with people with whom I had a real connection, that I helped others and made some sort of difference. I recall just smiling about how happy I was to have such a great job.

    There were also times when I didn’t love my job - mostly because I was being cheated and prevented from making the company a better workplace. A basic clash of principles. I still liked many things about my job, but the bad taste in my mouth overwhelmed all the good stuff.

    When I moved on, my biggest criterion for my next position was how much I felt I could contribute, because I cannot love a job where I am not making a contribution in each paid hour.

    SKL  |  July 31st, 2008 at 1:15 pm

  • I’m more concerned with being happy overall…Loving my job has never been a priority for me. I see employment as a means to an end.

    Luckily, I don’t hate my job. But if I was independently weathly would I still work there?

    Uh, no. I’ve got other stuff I’d rather do with my time.

    A'Dell  |  July 31st, 2008 at 10:17 pm

  • I think that just liking your job is enough to keep a person sane and not effect the rest of their life…you don’t have to love it. However, hating your job does frequently put pressure on the rest of your life and family, which can cause many problems!

    Valerie  |  August 1st, 2008 at 10:55 am

  • I’m lucky to both love my job and to be financially secure while pursuing my passion. People often feel that they have to choose between a job they enjoy or a a job that pays their bills.

    Ellen Hart  |  August 4th, 2008 at 3:30 pm

  • I think you should be passionate about what you do. When you care about what you are working on you tend to deliver better work. If you can find this passion in your work -great you are lucky - if you can’t find it in your job then look for it in other ways.

    Rae  |  August 5th, 2008 at 12:06 pm

  • I actually love my job! I say it so much people think I’m bragging… but, in all reality…I just love it. I’m a probation officer and I work with high risk offenders. I mean I have some tough days… but I just enjoy every aspect of my career…This is what I went to school for…I love interacting with people and helping those who are less fortunate. I couldn’t understand for some time how I could possibly have a job… that I actually didn’t mind going to every day… a job that even if I had to work over… I didn’t mind…A Job that despite not making 50,000 a year I still loved! I just felt I was being tricked… but realized this is how a job suppose to be and I thank god every day for putting me in a career and place of employment that I am trully happy doing!! It’s possible…I regret working many jobs in my past because now I realize…It isn’t healthy! DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY!

    Mrs. T  |  August 8th, 2008 at 11:53 am

  • Having a job that keeps me mentally sharp and is not repetitive has always been important to me. I have to say sometimes the politics and stress is challenging (to say the least) but overall I enjoy my day job.

    Getting older and closer to retirement my health is of the utmost important. That is why I have joined the Wellness Revolution and am enjoying the benefits of Xocai Healthy Chocolate. My cholesterol levels have all improved and I am truly hooked on the wonderful dark chocolate.

    Best of luck to everyone in your careers and your family life.

    Robin  |  August 9th, 2008 at 2:36 pm

  • I believe that it is important to give all you have to any job, no matter what it is!! Even if the job you have is to just put food on the table there is always something about it that can give you satisfaction. I have done a lot of traveling which has required me to take many jobs. They have not always been ones in which I would have picked to be my absolute Love, but in each job that I have had I have started out with a good attitude. I believe that in every job that there is out there, that in some way it touches someone and impacts a life. That is just how “I” look at it, and in doing so I find that it gives me satisfaction in all I do. I am not saying that I enjoy everything about every job, but I feel that if you can find even one thing about that job that gives you pride, you will see the world in a different way. Your job, whatever that may be, give it all you have and you will find happiness.

    Tami  |  August 9th, 2008 at 11:52 pm

  • Someone once made the comment “Being paid to do what I do is the icing.” That stuck with me. I honestly feel as though one should, at minimum, ‘like’ what ones does for a living. Let’s face it, for most of us that work any semblance of a ‘full-time’ schedule, spend more hours with our coworkers or staff than we do our own families, during said workweek. In order for me to get up every mornining and have a good attitude, I need to enjoy what I do. It also makes the more stressful days a little easier to manage. I have experience with Corporate America, and, like some of you have previously said, I stayed for a while because I enjoyed my coworkers/management. So even though the job itself was a little monotonous and sometimes plain BORING for me, the pay, benefits, and ability to get along with everyone made it easy for me to stay for 8 years.

    I now work for the public library, and I could not be happier. Well…..if I obtain the coveted MLS degree and become a librarian….THAT would make me happier, LOL

    All in all, I just know that, for me, I need to enjoy what I do for a living, at least 80% of the time!

    Yuri  |  August 15th, 2008 at 12:34 pm

  • I believe you should love your job, try to love it, or at least like it a lot. It’s too hard to bring the ‘junk’ from your job home to your husband, kids, and/or friends if you don’t. If we’re not at a job we like or love, it’s our responsibility to do what we need to do within ourselves, so that we don’t bring it all home.

    Joelle  |  May 14th, 2009 at 1:08 pm