People who love their work…

People who Love their work….


Last term, I was lucky enough to be able to take Long Service Leave and travelled through Europe with my family. It always helps to step away from your career to make you appreciate what you value about it.

Young people are now much more likely to have a string of roles under their belts, working across different industries, potentially with side hustles, whilst also constantly upskilling with micro-credentials and on-the-job learning. Employee’s who continually upskill, are the ones that will remain most employable, especially by incorporating new technologies and AI into their roles. Life-long-learning is here to stay.

I find there are commonalities for those who love their work. I am very lucky to be amongst this group. But many people I know, dislike the work they do. They find their jobs tiresome, boring, a means to an end, difficult, stressful, tedious, sometimes all at the same time. Many say if they had their time over again, they would not be in the profession they are currently in.

How do we avoid ending up or finding ourselves in this cluster of negatives? There are three factors I see in people who adore their careers. 

#1 Skillset match – I feel this is the most important connection to base big career decisions on. In short asking the question ‘What skills do I like to use?”. The issue is, that at the age of 18, or 20, or 22 onwards, we have not yet been able to identify what those skills are. Nor have we used enough skills to know how wide our skills range is. I know at age 18, I was clueless. These are the skills that come naturally, easily and comfortably. We feel good using them. And we want to get better at them. They don’t feel like a huge struggle. For example, a customer service person, who is genuinely friendly, and loves helping others. A teacher who loves using their creativity, or problem-solving skills to help their students. A physiotherapist who loves all things to do with biomechanics, having high empathy and great people skills to assist with patients. Or a doctor who is a great problem-solver, communicator and team player. When the skills of a role are matched to the skills a person finds effortless, this is where the magic happens. And it all sounds fairly obvious. But often it isn’t. The more we try out different jobs, groups, societies, activities that allow us to use a range of skills, the further along we are at identifying those ‘enjoyable’ skills.

#2 Reward&Benefit – Workers in careers they are happy in, tend to have their career needs met by that job. Almost like finding a good partner. Those needs may be met by the employer, or the job, or the profession. When these needs are met, workers are happier. This can take the shape of a variety of factors. For some it’s the remuneration, for others it’s the recognition. Or it can be the company bonuses, the work life balance, the flexibility, the personal satisfaction, the personal growth, the pride in the work, the perks of the role, but it must have a reward that the worker finds value in. It can be a feeling of being valued by the profession or by peers, customers, a professional body or clients. Feeling valued can even come from a personal internal barometer, e.g. “I matter”, “I have purpose here”, “I have value here”, “I am making a difference”. Now more than ever, young people are trying to work in areas, where they feel they have purpose.

#3 Interest – this has to be at the core of job/career enjoyment, but not to be mixed up with passion. There has to be an innate interest in the job, profession or arena. Or at least a growing seed, that can be developed over time. My 18-year-old self would never have had an interest in careers, but I had an interest in people. I think the basis of the interest must be present for real career enjoyment. Unfortunately, people mix up the word passion here for interest. Some feel they have to turn their passion (whatever it may be, art, cooking, music, travel, gardening, their hobby) into their career. As long as that passion is present in life, the career does not have to include that passion. So students have a few things to consider when career-mapping.