Find a Job You Love?

by Ron Haynes

ClassifiedsThere is a great deal of talk these days about the importance of finding a job you love. Seems like every blog I read, every personal development web site, every talk show is talking about pursuing your passion and making a living doing it. But CareerBuilder.com says that 84% of all workers are not currently employed in their dream job. Businessweek even looked at this phenomenon in their January 21, 2008 issue, called The Perils of Following Your Bliss. I’ll address some of the points in that article.

You should always strive to insure that your personality characteristics line up well with your occupation. If you’re a “people person,” you won’t be happy in a two person office where one is the boss and you’re the other one. If you love crunching numbers, you probably won’t be happy working the sales floor at a department store in the mall. If you enjoy being creative and in control, you will not be happy working on an assembly line. The thing to remember is that every one of these positions exactly matches up with someone else’s personality traits. The key is to find out what you enjoy and then find a position that aligns with your personality. To find out more about yourself, read Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself.

In an ideal world, following your passion would be great. We could all make a living at home, blogging away, or hiking in the mountains, or making cute little jewelry boxes, or raising dachshunds. The problem is, we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in the real world. IT IS possible to love what you do, but I think all the talk about “following your passion” is a little overdone. Here’s why:

What you enjoy on a small and personal level can easily become a mechanical, boring, and frustrating experience on a large scale, the scale that you’ll need to replace your income. If you enjoy turning small pieces of wood into beautiful pens, how would you like to do that 10 hours per day for five or six (or seven) days per week? How would you like to pursue the sales opportunities with retailers and distributors, the accounting, the receivables, the payables, collecting on past dues, dealing with suppliers, and handling employees? Sure, if you’re selling 1,000,000 units per month you can afford to outsource a lot of the office management, but it will take a long time to get there.

The drop in income can be catastrophic if you’re not well capitalized. Is there enough demand for your passion to support your need for a full time income? How much demand is there for ceramic bluebirds? Is there a demand for your personal experience with Human Resources? Once you spend the marketing money to get your name publicly known, will there be anything left? Don’t make a move based on emotion. It’s embarrassing to go crawling back.

You’ll probably have to forgo some things you’re used to having. You’ll probably going to say goodbye to vacations for several years. You’ll have to get your own medical insurance, retirement investments, pay your employer’s share of Social Security and Medicare, and you’ll give up the interaction you currently have with co-workers and others in your current job. Are you willing to do that? Is your spouse and family willing to do that?

People DO get to “follow their passions” . . . sometimes. We’ve all heard the stories of people who loved a particular activity or subject and parlayed that into a full time income. The fact is, they are far fewer that many are willing to admit. Many times, human nature refuses to see the truth behind these statistics. Most businesses fail. Just because someone can bake a really good New York Cheesecake doesn’t mean they should quit work and start a catering business. Just because they have a fantastic ability to get “buy in” from line employees doesn’t mean they should quit work and start a consulting business.

The key is to acquire business knowledge, marketing knowledge, and accounting knowledge as well as the product knowledge that comes from your natural interest in the subject. You’ll also need to investigate what the competition does, understand how they present their offerings in the market, and identify their strengths and weaknesses? Can your strengths overcome their strengths? Do you have a weakness where they have a strength?

I’m not trying to talk anyone out of pursuing their dream. But there needs to be a large dose of realism when it comes to “following your passion.” The key question is: have you done your homework? Just knowing what you love to do is not enough. You must know everything that goes along with it or have partners that do.

If you feel comfortable with the sacrifices you’ll have to make and you have the product knowledge as well as the business knowledge to succeed, the let me get out of the way. Raise the money and follow your dream. But don’t think it will be easy and don’t say you weren’t warned. If you do your homework and you have made your life adjustments for becoming an entrepreneur or with changing jobs to one you’ll love, you have to potential to become one of the few that succeeds.

You should not stay in a job you despise or one where your stomach churns every time you think about going to work. But don’t march in on Monday and quit without having something else lined up either. You may be able to find something you’re passionate about in your present occupation.

I work in the housing industry ( I know, it’s hurting right now). There are a lot of things I don’t like about it. It’s cyclical. It utilizes trade credit and I have to collect money from people. There are too many layers of people between upper management and the customer. It uses commodity products whose costs change hourly. Why do I stay in it? For one thing, I know and understand it better than any other industry. Second, I love being involved with building homes. I love the smell of pine sawdust and watching the physical progress of a home being constructed. I love being able to see progress. Third, there’s always a large number of new products coming online that are innovative and exciting. And fourth, I love the competitive environment and getting a competitor’s customer to buy from me instead.

If you’re unable to “follow your passion” for whatever reason, find what you DO like about your current job and remind yourself daily of those positive things. Happiness can be and should be based on your attitude toward life, not based on your circumstances.
[tags]life, blog, weblog, personal, job, reality, pursue dream, passion[/tags]

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1001 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


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{ 13 comments }

LP

Amazing as it may seem, you are expressing some of the same ideas we brought our sons up to live by.
We see it everyday, and they actually did absorb truths we taught them.
It all boils down to the things you have and your station in life, and having an attitude of gratefulness for it.
It’s simply called contentment.
(Synonyms: serenity, gladness, satisfaction, happiness, pleasure, gratification, ease)

It’s knowing there is a sovereign God who has His hand on your life.

Thank you for this timely article. Because, I have a situation right now and I see there’s a fork in the road. ;-)
It’s just a small thing, but yet I have to make a decision. And stick to it.
And then…….be happy about the decision I made and it’s outcome! ;-)

Jeff@My Super-Charged Life

Good reality check. It is easy to get off-track and become less than grateful for what we already have. I liked your comments about turning a small-scale passion into a business. Some things are not as fun when we have to do them. I have pursued multiple entrepreneurial adventures and can say that it is hard work. I also keep coming back for more because it is exciting and part of who I am.

Mike

I spent lots of time in school, basically looking for a “lovable” profession for me. I followed one rule: Keep searching until you find a job where works seems like play. That’s a tall order, but I work as a freelance journalist, and I do love my job. It just fits me. Perhaps amazingly, it also pays the bills–even health insurance. But it still brings its battles. Nothing is perfect, but there’s nothing that I’d rather do. Also, I should add that I jumped through plenty of flaming hoops, including 11 years of study after high school. I guess there really is no free lunch!

Andy Wood

A wise man once told me that everything – everything – has its drudgery. Truth be told, a lot of what’s done in the name of “pursuing a dream” is actually searching for an escape from an undesirable situation.

jason holmes

I had read somewhere that career contentment is different than job satisfaction……..and it must be an ideal situation to have both of them. Job satisfaction is the situation when you have a perfect job, you are drawing six figure salary with added perks, you have a good boss and an equally good team but the job is not in sync with yor personality. Career satisfaction is re or less related to pursuing your dreams.If someone is having both of them then I must say that he or she is in a state of bliss.

Alessandra

Hi Ron! I’ve read quite a few of your posts and I enjoyed them immensely! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us!

Ron

@LP
Thanks for the encouragement.

@ Jeff
I don’t want to discourage anyone from entrepreneurship, but like you said, it DOES have its downside. Too many people don’t want to do the hard work or commit to years of sacrifice that it will take to be successful.

@Mike
Fantastic! I’m always happy to hear that someone has found their calling and is able to make a living while doing it. That rocks! Now I’m off to check your blog :)

@Andy Wood
That’s deep. But it’s true on many counts. That man WAS wise! You are too for remembering it and applying it to this situation.

MartinFortKnox

Great post. I have been self employed for almost 10 years now. They all haven’t been good. MOST haven’t been good. I think with me is that I know that in comparison to the competition I am above average in the hardest areas of my profession. The other area, marketing, networking are the heard ones for me. I love what I do and have had 10 hour day 7 days a week stretches that was wonderful, becuase I love to work. Sometimes I wish I didn’t love what I did so I could fall into rank and file and get job as bus driver. Ironically enough I somehow seem to have been the bills paid the last few years with money left over. The level of instability for me is probably the worst. I don’t know if Im gonna make 26K or 100K in any given year. Clients come and go.

Oh well, thats my little open ended bit of info.

Thanks for the post.

Daniel

Ron,

There was a great article in yesterdays Wall Street Journal on “portfolio careers,” and how some people are forgoing one career that doesn’t fully fulfill them, in order to have two or three part time careers that together fulfill them. It’s a great read, and I think you’d enjoy it.

-Daniel
http://youngandfrugal.wordpress.com

Ron

@Alessandra
Thank you for your encouragement! Please stop by again soon. I love hearing from readers.

@MartinFortKnox
Thank you for being open. It must really be difficult with swings in income like that. You obviously are a very disciplined individual to stay the course. Gotta give you props on that.

@Daniel
Thanks for the tip. I’ll have to read that one. It sounds very interesting and honestly, is an approach I’ve never thought about. We’re taught to have one job and stick with it. But if you love working 20 hours at Starbucks, 15 hours at Borders, and 15 hours at the local hospital, it could work. Better have a firm grip on your scheduling skills and a really good calendar.

Paras Chopar

Amazing article. I am truly one of those naively-follow-my-passion kind of persons. But I am beginning to realize that one needs to be realistic as well. Having a passion does not guarantee you millions, or heck even a decent living. So, we should get out of our delusions and do what we are good at. Right?

Also, I like your tip: “Do your homework”. We constantly hear stories of an entrepreneur making money in a short span of time. But what we don’t hear is about their homework, their experience, their network or, sadly, their luck. The world presents a biased viewpoint and we cheerfully embrace it. How sad.

Ron

@Paras Chopar
Thank you Paras. You are exactly right. Many times the world’s view is biased, but we want to believe it so badly that we overlook the obvious. I’m not saying we should be pessimists, but like you pointed out – Do Your Homework!

Lech

A great article! Very thorough and inspiring. Thank you.

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