We’re in a job seeker’s market, and gone are the days of lifetime employment, staying at the same company for 20+ years, or settling for a steady paycheck but being bored out of your mind. We’re living and working longer than ever before, and we have choices! We’re asking ourselves the question “Do I have 10 years of experience, or do I have one year of experience ten times?” The equation of what makes for job happiness keeps shifting and expanding, and it seems like day by day the laundry list of our demands just keeps getting longer.
So it’s not unusual or uncommon that your answer to the simple question “Do You Love Your Job?” is “No!”.
I reached out to Joyce Guan West, a Career and Business Coach to learn more about how to intentionally and strategically make your next job one that you can fall head over heels with, and what you can do to make your now job “Mr or Mrs Right” forever. She told me that she has been head over heels in love with many of her jobs, and explains how you can too.
Do You Love Your Job? If Not, Here Are 9 Things To Do | Stephanie Burns
1. Identify What’s Working And What’s Not
Before you have a knee-jerk reaction and just run for the door, have an honest conversation with yourself about what’s currently working, and what’s not working. When you can define what aspects of your current job you do enjoy and want to keep, and what you could do without, that will help you call in the right next job. Is it the people, your boss, the culture of the company? Or is it your job role, boredom, or lack of growth opportunities? Finally, burnout is real – do you just need a break so that you can come back refreshed? Once you’ve identified what you want and what you don’t want, you can take steps towards crafting a solution.
2. Explore Alternative Approaches In Your Current Company
Before you throw the baby out with the bathwater and completely give up on your current company, open your horizons. Is there a way of talking to your boss or another department within the company about a different role or different team? If you can’t leave your job immediately, is there a way to spend part of your time working on something new that you’re interested in? Google’s famous 20% time rule was the genesis of landmark products such as Gmail, Google News, and AdSense. Or, if you’re feeling burned out, try taking a sabbatical or a vacation.
3. Get Intentional About Your Career Goals
If you want to fall in love, you want to get clear about what you want and need. The key to manifesting and calling in what you want is to name it, say it, and write it down. All of these techniques help prime your brain to be on the lookout for opportunities and connections with the right people that will lead you to your dream job. In addition, meditating on your goal can help you gain more insight into how you can make your dreams a reality.
West says, “It’s amazing how if you just start telling people what you’re looking for, that you realize there are so many people who are willing and able to connect you – you just need to be specific with your ask.”
4. Know Yourself And Define What You Want
A job is a multi-dimensional combination of many factors. With her Career Coaching clients looking to make a transition, West uses a detailed job focus questionnaire which includes multiple personality tests and assessments, as well as detailed questions such as “Do you love the chaos of a startup, or do you prefer more process and structure? What industries? Any particular products or services that you personally love? Are you drawn to a mission-driven company? B2B or B2C? What kind of boss do you work best with? What kind of culture fit is optimal for you? What are your career goals over time?” Some clients say that the questionnaire asks them questions they have never thought about when planning their career. Once you’ve answered these questions for yourself, you can even create a spreadsheet where you rate each of your opportunities on each factor, and come up with a weighted score for the opportunity.
5. Tap Into Wisdom
You’re not the only person who’s ever been on this journey. There are tons of books about career changes. One of West’s favorite books, which she coaches clients through is Designing Your Life. The book applies design thinking principles to an awesome product – You 2.0. Design thinking is helpful for imagining your career because it takes you out of rigid, linear paths and frees you to think more holistically and creatively about what is possible. The daily grind can stifle our imagination, and dreaming and taking a playful approach can inspire new ways of thinking. One deliverable of the exercises is three different 5 year plans which imagine three vastly different paths. Once you have them, you can validate which you are actually interested in, and then iterate by combining the best of all three plans together into one likely plan.
6. Ask for Help
Now it’s time to get out of the lab. You’ve come up with some general ideas of where you want to land next – job role, types of companies, work/life balance, company and team culture, your relationship with your boss, and how this next role fits into your longer terms goals. Now it’s time to enlist your allies to make your dreams a reality. There are three great ways to ask for help: friends, mentors, and networking with new people (online and offline).
- Friends who know you well can validate your intended path(s) and confirm that they make sense to you. You can even ask them “What do you see me doing in my next job? What are my superpowers?”
- Mentors who are well ahead of you in their careers can be useful for providing their wisdom and experience. They can save you time from making the same mistakes they did, and you can also adapt their blueprint for success to your own story (be careful to consider how the times have changed or not in your job role and industry – what worked even 5 years ago may not be relevant now).
- Networking – if your target roles or companies are with folks that aren’t currently in your network, you’ll want to connect with the right people on LinkedIn, at in-person networking events, and also ask for referrals from friends and mentors. You can start with informational interviews, and then ramp up to asking for referrals to recruiters or hiring managers at your target companies. If none of these resources are available, hiring a career coach could be helpful, since going it alone is tough.
West comments, “One of the most common mistakes I see people make in their career journey is NOT leveraging their networks. I work with a lot of my clients to get them out of their comfort zones and start asking their friends, LinkedIn connections, and even other soccer moms or dads for referrals. Every single one of these people is more likely to get you an interview than applying cold through a job website.”
7. Remember Life Isn’t All About Work
It can be easy to say “If I were just happy at my job, I’d be happy overall.” While your work life is an important part of your overall happiness, it’s not the only factor. Some people find that they like their steady, predictable paycheck, and that they can find fulfillment and meaning in volunteering, or having a side hustle. Or engaging in a hobby outside of work. For some people, they seek meaning and enjoyment in some aspect of their lives, and it doesn’t have to be 100% from work.
8. Take Consistent Steps In The Right Direction
Once you’ve charted your path and know what steps you need to take in order to find a job that you love, it’s important not to lose momentum. You can create a timeline and set goals for what you’re going to accomplish each week, and also set a realistic timeframe for when you want to be starting in your next role.
9. Enjoy The Journey
Having a satisfying career is an ongoing iterative process of checking in and being self aware – the process doesn’t just shut down once you’ve landed your dream job. You get what you put into it, which is why West recommends The First 90 Days to anyone who is on-boarding at a new job.
Now that you have the tools to be intentional about your career, you can check in every month or few months and make sure that you’re still madly in love. If not, you now have the blueprint for how to fall in love with your job all over again.