Do What You Love - Love What You Do

by Kimberly Smith

[4 minute read]

 

#dowhatyoulove

That’s a hashtag that’s been used around 8.6million times on Instagram. A quick scroll through the top listed posts depicts people engaged in various creative endeavours like “flying painting”, mural art, fashion design, floristry, baking and photography; leisure pursuits like dog walking, collecting, palaeontology, touring wineries or playing with their kids at a park; and physical activities like skiing, open-water swimming, rock climbing and dance.

Imagine yourself as a hashtagger – to which aspects of your life would you attach the handle “do what you love”? What parts of your day or week? Time close to home or times travelling? Meals out? Hobbies? Experiences? Places? In what environments would you most resonate with the declaration that you are doing what you love? Or loving what you do?

Now, did your work show up on your list?

If it did, what a gift! It’s estimated we spend around a third of our waking lives at work. So, if you can be doing something you love - that seems a worthy investment of that time.

If it didn’t make it to your list, perhaps some deeper reflection is required.

Life is too short to hate your job!

For the majority of my working life I have been an avid user of this hashtag! I find myself regularly ‘doing what I love’ and able to ‘love what I do’. On every desk I’ve worked from there’s been a sign displayed that says, “Can you believe we get to do this?” as a reminder to be grateful for the privilege it is to find such deep satisfaction in what I do … and get paid for it!!

There are many ways to measure job satisfaction.

It’s enjoyable (culture)

By whatever means you measure that – who you work with, who you work for, the type of activity you do, the low stress environment, the familiarity, the people you interact with. All of these things can contribute to your general sense of enjoying the way you earn your pay check – regardless of the type of work you actually do.

“I had such a fun/easy day today!”

The work is meaningful (vision)

Job satisfaction is often highest when we have a strong awareness of the impact of the work we’re doing. The people we’re serving, the difference we’re making in our area of industry, the innovations we’re discovering, the lives we’re impacting, or the positive change we’re bringing to the world. Be it for one person or one million, through our direct interface with people or more ‘behind the scenes’ technology, infrastructure and systemic advancements; what we do matters.

“I heard the best story from one of our clients today.”

My capabilities are utilised (fit)

There is immense satisfaction to be found in knowing you are stewarding and utilising your skills, gifts, experiences and passions to their fullest extent. Where your role allows full expression of your unique offerings and scope to explore how best they could be further utilised to advance the work of the organisation.

“I feel like they’re making the best use of me.”

I contribute to the organisation (feedback)

You can help! You see how you can advance the cause or purpose of the company you work for. Other people benefit from having you around as you encourage, release, instruct, or develop them to offer their best to the team.

“My boss thanked me at our staff meeting today.”

Some of these are choices you can make. Even if it’s not your ideal job or preferred work place – you can decide to bring and be your best to maximise the opportunities until another option arises. You can influence culture to make a more enjoyable workplace. You can look to find personal meaning in the absence of a clearer corporate vision. You can develop ways of measuring your contribution even if they aren’t externally acknowledged. You can solicit feedback or offer it by way of encouragement to others.

Ideally, if none of these things are true of your work you’d want to think about moving on or at least making this temporary. Granted, that is not always practical for the season or circumstances you’re in. But the goal should always be to find employment that you are proud to be engaged in and that feels like a worthwhile use of such a large portion of your life.

As a leader in an organisation, two more things are true.

  1. You are responsible for the experiences staff have of working in your organisation. Would your staff #dowhatyoulove about their work? Why yes? Why no? Which of these 4 factors may need your attention (culture, vision, fit or feedback)?
  1. If you do not love what you do – people around you will undoubtedly know it (if not now, eventually). Your team will not love working in an environment you don’t love.