How do you find a job you love? It’s the hardest question to ask yourself, but it’s one that everyone has to answer at one time or another.
What do you want to do with your life? And it’s so easy to defer back to the cliché quotes of:
“Follow Your Passion” or
“Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
But, what does that mean?
Those are great general philosophies to live by, but it doesn’t actually answer the questions: How do you find a job you love? How do you become happy in your career?
I recently received a DM from a following asking me these exact questions, to which I responded, “what defines a job you love.”
It’s easy to think you know what you love? But there are 10 essential questions to actually defining and then finding a job you love. Ask yourself, what are the characteristics of a job that would make you love it?
And everyone’s answers will be different. That’s why it’s so hard for people to find a job they love because it’s different for everyone. There is no straight forward or right/wrong answer. A job that you love could be someone else’s worse nightmare and vice versa.
That’s why you need to ask yourself the following 10 questions and journal down the answers:
1. What social environment do you want to be in?
Finding a job you love starts with knowing who you are and what kind of environments you work best in. Do you like interacting with people or the public, or are you more introverted?
Personally, I need to be in a client service type of role because I love people. I once worked in a research position where I would stare at a computer all day and talk to maybe 2 people and that was soul-crushing for me. But other people may be the complete opposite if you’re very introverted; you may love being left alone at a computer all day and hate social interaction with the public.
I also know that I’m a very helpful person and I need to feel that in an environment to thrive. Most of my career positions have been in a helping role, such as working as an assistant or supporting team-member. And even as a writer, it’s still important. I used to be a travel blogger but I could stand it I didn’t feel like I was helping people that much. Don’t get me wrong, travel is important, but I am so much more motivated to help people with their career and finances. So your first task is to…
Learn Who You Are: Ask yourself what type of person you are and what environments will really allow you to thrive. Try taking a personality test like Myer’s Brigg or Enneagram test to learn more about yourself and what kind of role/work environment you work best in.
2. What kind of corporate culture do you enjoy?
Once you have defined who you are and what environment you work best in, you have to find a work environment that matches. There are many different types of corporate structures and environments depending on the organization size and industry. Some people really like the structure and organization of large companies. Others can find the bureaucracy and structure suffocating. Alternatively, if you worked for a start-up, while the environment can be very relaxed for some people, it can also mean chaos for others.
Sectors are also different across different industries. The private and public sector have very different cultures and expectations. The same goes for if you enjoy working in a management role or a union position.
Evaluate your work environment: List out what you do and do not want from a workplace. And if no corporation organization or structure seems right, look into entrepreneurship.
3. What is your ideal workday?
Now that you know who you are and what kind of work environment will support that, ask yourself, work is your ideal workday? What time do you wake up to go to work? How do you get there? Do you drive or do you take public transit?
During your day, what are the key activities that you want to be doing? Of course, we all have tasks at work that we don’t like, but is the majority of the day filled with days you do or do not like?
Lastly, how does your day end? What time do you go home and by what means? Do you have time to go see your kids?
Write down your ideal workday.
4. What is your ideal workweek?
An absolutely huge part of finding a job you love is the impact it will make on your lifestyle. To follow up on your ideal workday, extend your answer and look into your ideal workweek.
Do you have to work overtime or on weekends?
I personally like my work to end at work. I used to work 2-3 jobs and would start at 6 am and it quickly burned me out. Now I work a compressed work schedule and so I get every second Monday off. I enjoy being able to build my business on the side and that’s what makes me like my job so much.
But many people enjoy working a lot more and a lot less.
Outline your ideal week: What hours do you work each day and what do your weekends look like?
5. What characteristics do you need in a good manager/team?
So many people think that finding a job you love is about someone handing it to you during the interview, I believe it’s about defining what you want/need in a job and seeking the right opportunity for you.
As I progressed throughout my career, I’ve started interviewing the manager, just as they are interviewing me. It’s like a date, for this relationship to work; you both have to like each other.
I have a running list in my Google Doc of all the things I want and do not want in a manager. I created this list over 5 years ago and add to it when I have a good or bad experience with a manager.
I have withdrawn my applications and declined job offers when I didn’t like the manager or hiring team or when I knew it wasn’t the right fit for me.
So create a list of what you need from a good manager and politely say “no thank you” to any job that doesn’t offer doesn’t fit your criteria.
I’ve had to work under managers that were hired after me and they gave me extreme anxiety and would make people in the office cry (like, actually). It was not worth it.
Create a list of the characteristics of your ideal manager: List 5 things you need in a good manager and 3 red flags that you are not able to work under. Then when looking for a job you love, evaluate your potential manager/team in the interview against those characteristics.
6. How far are you willing to commute?
Commuting is a real factor in job love. Studies have shown that not only does it have a massive impact on your time, but your also on your mental health and overall happiness. Because let’s face it, commuting is exhausting and personally, I’ve found that the longer the commute, the more frustrations arise. If you have to make multiple transfers or constantly be stuck in traffic for hours, it makes a huge impact on your day.
Set physical work office boundaries based on your max commute time: And don’t look for jobs outside of that area. s soon as you see a job posting, Google the office location. If it’s too far, then move onto the next posting.
7. What benefits and securities do you value?
During this process, you may have concluded that you are like a specific work environment or workday, and that could include a life of entrepreneurship?
But here’s the thing that very few people talk about when they make 6 figures as an entrepreneur. First of all, taxes take a huge chunk of your income whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur. Secondly, healthcare is expensive. Even in Canada where we have universal healthcare, there are so many things
Lastly, consider the job security of your industry.
While this may seem like “not fun” things to think about when it comes to talking about a job you love, these are the small factors that will contribute to it.
And if you couldn’t care less about benefits or security, that’s fine too! But being hit with a dental surgery or sudden layoff can severely affect how you feel about your job. Maybe not in the moment, but be honest with yourself how you will be able to handle that type of emergency.
Lastly, this will be highly influenced by your stage in life. Benefits and job security can be scoffed at when you are in your twenties and living with your parents, but it’s a different ball game when you’re in your 40s and have kids.
What do you need in my life right now, stability or risks?
8. What is the salary and will that create the lifestyle I want?
Money isn’t everything but it’s really important. Finding the ultimate balance between your career and your financial
But you don’t need to put a number on it.
What you do need to do is be realistic about the lifestyle it will create for you.
I’m all for finding work that you love whether that’s being a social worker or a 6-figure entrepreneur. But just because you have a job title or a certain salary, that doesn’t mean you will actually love your job.
Research what the salary would be for the job position. Use sites like Glassdoor or Payscale to find a realistic salary. Then create a budget around it. If it’s not enough then you need to decide what’s your priority in life. And that brings us to the next question which is:
9. What relationships/areas of your life do you prioritize?
Have you ever met someone and it was the right person but the wrong time?
Or had to miss a friend or family milestone because you couldn’t return for a milestone or event?
These are the decisions that will make you hate or love your job. And there is no right or wrong answer. There is nothing wrong with living and working far away from your family; sometimes it’s not by choice. But
If your partner is offered a job in a different state or country – would you move?
Do you need to be close to your family? Is someone in your family ill or struggling
Just know when you are answering these questions there are no right or wrong answers. But knowing where your career falls on your list of priorities is what will reframe your mind to see the good in your job.
So what if you aren’t working in your dream job/title? Maybe it means that you can provide a great living for your family. Or maybe it gives you flexibility in time to pick up/drop off your kids or attend their recitals and field trips.
For me, at one time in my life, it was because it meant I was close to home and the hospital so I was able to take care of a loved one.
Write a list of your priorities and highlight where your “career” is on that list. Loving your job maybe 1st, 3rd, or last on your list behind your other loves in life and that’s okay.
List out your priorities.
10. What fulfills you?
Instead of asking yourself what you like to do, ask yourself, what kind of work is fulfilling to you? Because that’s the secret to finding a job you love. A common mistake I see millennials make is to base their career goals solely on a job title or company. Many people want to be in X role or work for X company, but will that make you happy? I routinely hear people who’ve achieved those very narrow and specific goals, only to find it’s not what they thought it would.
It’s not the job of a career title or company to provide you with fulfillment in your work. It’s your job to understand it and find a job that does that for you.
Is it helping people? Is it making huge strides in business? Is it winning awards? Is it being published?
Write down one sentence of what fulfills you (refer to your personality test results if you need some help!)
At the end of the day, remember: no one creates the job that you love. It’s up to you to define what it means to love your job and go out and seek it.
If you need some help finding that job, be sure to download the MLA Job Application Tracker to keep you on track. Good luck!