I have told my own children for years now that I didn’t find the job that I loved until I was around 35. Truth is I was around 35 when I figured out what I enjoyed but I didn’t really enjoy doing it until around 4 years later when I had the courage to leave the large company I had worked at for 19 years and start a business of my own. Working on my own I developed a product, had to market and sell that product to build a brand name. I had to make sure that every customer engagement was a shining example of success and efficiency because I not only wanted more business, I wanted my customers to tell everyone they knew that when it came to RCM (Reliability Centered Maintenance) I was not only the best bargain, I was one of the best in the world.
At the same time as I was starting my own business I also recognized it was quite easy be become consumed in being successful and while I thoroughly enjoyed the times I could close my office and work on perfecting a database I also knew that in a week or two I would be stuck in a hotel room and have plenty of uninterrupted time to make improvements.
Looking back I can say the following list of 5 things are what I continue to do to ensure I enjoy my job!
- Family Comes First – While there were plenty of times I did close that office door to get some work done I made sure the work that required that closed door was truly urgent. When you enjoy or love what you do it’s very easy to become consumed by work and at the same time you have to have a life. Let’s be real, we all go to work with the thought that by getting a job and going to work we will have the money to do the things we enjoy. The reality is for most people that turns into having just about enough to pay the bills with a little left over for the day the washing machine breaks. When you enjoy your work you will soon find out that enjoying it too much leads to not enough time at home and not enough time to enjoy life. Do yourself a favor, when you find that job you love be sure to set a realistic schedule and stick to it. I am still happy to this day to be able to say that when my business was booming and growing faster than I had ever expected I made it to over 95% of sporting events, proms and important events for my kids.
- Be True To Yourself – Having started my career with a big company I have first-hand experience of seeing what some folks will do to get promoted. The day you sell your own internal beliefs and values to earn a title or a few extra dollars a week is the day those who work with you will work to make sure hate your job. I’m talking about the yes man, that guy who always agrees with the boss, the guy who stands behind every announcement that comes from management or human resources. The guy who might have very little experience or knowledge but gets the promotion because he doesn’t make waves. If you want to enjoy what you do, you have to be honest at all times; honest with yourself and with everyone you work with. In a world where 1 bad day, 1 shameful event can travel the world via social media, integrity means everything. Care about what you do and the people you work with, be engaged in their lives and career growth. Being proud of who you are and what you stand for has a lot to do with how much you enjoy your job.
- Continue to Learn – I have to admit, I have learned this the hard way a couple of times in my life. Times I have gotten comfortable with where I was in life and thought “I’m good with what I know, I’m considered an expert in this area.” And then you wake up one day and realize there is so much more you could be doing. When I talk about learning I’m not just talking about going back to college to get a Masters or Doctorates, I’m also talking about reading, doing research, digging deeper into your own work or field to improve your knowledge. Continuing to challenge your mind is what keeps one fresh, up to date and alert to what is going on in the world. That drive to continue to learn is a strong sign that you enjoy what you are doing. Don’t ignore it!
- Make Work Fun – I’m very lucky in that I can say there are only a few brief moments in my life that I hated my job. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have jobs other people hated. It means I found a way to enjoy what many would consider an awful job. From the time I was a teenager working on a farm I would tell those I worked with that if you can’t come to work and have fun then stay home. When I worked at Eastman Kodak we cleaned plugged chemical lines with high pressure water outside where the temperature would be well below freezing and we still found ways to laugh and have fun. Today as I perform RCM analyses I’m aware the RCM process is known for being boring, I look for ways to have fun, to make the time go by yet complete the task. I don’t care what you do, you can find ways to make work more fun. If you can find a way to laugh I guarantee you will enjoy your job!
- Build Relationships – I love my family. If I could spend every day surrounded by my family life would be nearly perfect. Nearly because I recognize you still need friends. I didn’t realize how bad you need them until I was about 3 years into running my own business when I suddenly recognized that in my new job working as a consultant I didn’t have any friends. I worked someplace different nearly every month and if I did my job well I wouldn’t have to come back for a year or two. Worse yet in the 3 years I had been working on my own I had ignored the friends I made in my old job. Thankfully as one would expect my old friends were still there, just a phone call away and we were finding time for lunch or golf. I also learned that if I invested time with my customers it was possible to build relationships that have grown into friendships. In the last 10 years I have fished, hunted, golfed and even vacationed with former customers. The most important part about friends, they tell the truth, sometimes not what you want to hear but need to. I’m thankful each day for my friends we continue to talk, reminisce and laugh. If you want to enjoy your work, build relationships, and make friends!
- Know When To Walk Away – This might be the most important tip of all. It’s also the most difficult. No one likes to be seen as a quitter and as a result you can find yourself hanging in there trying to make the best of a bad situation, losing sleep at night trying to figure out what you need to do that will make the job from hell something you can live with. When it comes down to this it’s time to make a promise to yourself and a list. “I will do all I can for the next 3 months to try and turn this situation into a positive. In the mean time I will begin to look for opportunities someplace else. If your job is causing you to lose sleep, or causing undo stress at home it’s time. Enjoying what you do takes the courage to leave and is later replaced with the satisfaction of knowing you did the right thing.
Today as I write this post I can say with confidence it really is possible to enjoy what you do. To get up each day and think I’m so glad I made the changes necessary to make this possible. As always the 6 items I listed are what has worked for me so if you have a few you think should be added I would love to hear your comments!