The tributes to Steve Jobs have already begun to turn to ash. And people are using the charcoal to blacken his career advice. Like here: ‘Steve Jobs gave bad career advice‘, says Forbes.
A lot of people agree. And, yes, ‘don’t settle until you find something you love’ might well be bad advice for some. Those people who think that ‘loving your job’ means ‘loving every single aspect of your job’.
I’m not really well-qualified to give advice about love at work, but I’m going to do it anyway. Like any relationship, it’s not about having a brilliant time, all of the time. You are not, unless you are extremely special, going to enjoy filling out your KPIs on that spreadsheet, or commuting in, or numerous other things you will likely have to do along with some of the cool stuff that made you sign up (I don’t just mean the pay here folks. I’m aiming for a higher level. Stick with me).
The reason I’m not well qualified to give you advice about loving your work, yet continue to do it anyway (yes, I’m still going) is because I am one of these annoying people who can find the meaning behind any (ok, almost any) job I have done. I loved working in the coffee shop. I seriously did. The people were super-nice for a start. It was a cool cafe. A little piece of Amsterdam, but cleaner, and with no smoking. And in Plymouth, so it was even cooler, because there aren’t many cool things in Plymouth.
Another example: I grew up in a pub and I poured pints for people there. I enjoyed that too. How annoying am I? I liked helping people have a good time. When the regulars left, having spent their money in my family social club and thanked me for a good night, it gave me a warm glow (as I chucked them out into the cold council estate street – hmm).
I’m not even joking. This is me. Maybe I’m an optimist. I helped people have a good time. That is as good a reason as any to show up to work. I liked my customers. They were a bigger part of my life than most of my family.
Occasionally, the customers were grumpy, or violent, or too drunk (my 21st birthday, which I will blog about another time). But overall, I loved it.
Anyway after I went to university I have done more things which I have loved. In fact as yet I haven’t left any job because I didn’t like it. I’ve left jobs for various reasons, usually to do with career progression. A lack of career progression is frustrating but it didn’t make me miserable: I just realised that my path was going to be elsewhere, and when I saw opportunities, I took them.
There’s a slide show, also on Forbes, where they tell you not to change your job but change your attitude. They are mostly right, so are worth a look.
Here my top three tips for enjoying your job (and by the way, it’s got nothing to do with your actual job):
1. Identify the higher purpose of your job. Even if you think it doesn’t have one. I betcha it does. When I was a Sunday girl at a Next store, my job was mostly to pick up clothes off the floor of the children’s department. And hang them up. But I saw it as providing a good environment for people to shop for good quality, cute clothes for their kids, and occasionally advise them on choice and selection. It was a Christmas temp job, and it was nice helping people pick out gifts for their grandkids.
2. Enjoy the bright spots. The bits you enjoy, savour, and try to find ways of doing it more. Some people do the stuff they like least early in the day, others feel more energized after they do the things they love. Find out what works for you and capitalise on your own way of working.
3. Allow yourself to be social at work. I don’t mean ‘spend all day gossiping’. Some people think they should draw a thick line between home and work. Sure, it’s good to have a little mystery, and people at work don’t want to know everything about your love life, for example, but with the hours people spend at work, why not make some friends. ‘Having a best friend at work’ has been found to be one of the key drivers of engaged employees (who do better work and are massive assets to their companies). It’ll help you get through even the toughest day.