October 19, 2011

You Don't Have to Love Your Job

A couple months ago The Simple Dollar wrote  Switching Jobs / Switching Careers  about what to do do if you love your job but hate your career or vice versa.   His article was really meant for people who hate their job or career.   But the mention of "loving" your job or career made me consider the notion of loving your job.

I do not love my job.    I like my job.   And thats just fine with me.

You do not have to love your job for it to be a good or even a great job.     Its fabulous if you do love your job.   However loving your job shouldn't be the expectation.   If you go about life with the thinking that you ought to love your job or that loving your job is the measurement of a successful career then I think you're setting the bar too high and setting yourself up for a failure.

Loving your job is not the norm at all.   In fact lately most Americans aren't even satisfied with their jobs.  In a poll earlier this year only 45% of Americans reported that they were satisfied with their jobs.  This may not be news to you that most people aren't happy with their jobs.   But if you listen to much to the career advice gurus you might get the idea that everyone should be passionate and love their careers or jobs and that this is somehow typical, but it just isn't.  I'm not saying we should all be satisfied with jobs we hate or that disliking our jobs is good enough.   But the point here is that its not normal to love your job and in fact if you merely like your job you're doing better than most.

Not loving your job isn't a mandate for change.   On the other hand if you hate your job or simply dislike it then that may warrant some change.   Hating your job isn't automatically a reason to quit the job or change careers.   You have to examine exactly why you hate or dislike your job.   What do you dislike about your job exactly?  Why are you unhappy.   Sometimes you can fix things by some changes in how you do your work or interact with your coworkers.  

You should also seriously think about your own state of mind and consider if the reason you are unhappy at work might be due to other things going on in your life more than the job itself.   If you're getting 5 hours of sleep, dealing with constant headaches, have a spouse that you fight with regularly and are behind on your car payment then its unlikely you'll be in a wonderful mood from 8am to 5pm.   Maybe its not the job as much as your poor mood.   OK before you get mad ... I'm not trying to blame the victim here, but merely suggesting that you step back and look at what might be influencing your moods.   Are all your coworkers equally unhappy with the job as well or do they all seem satisfied?

Personally I think that liking or enjoying your job is a realistic goal.   Loving your job would be pretty nice, but I'd consider that a 'stretch goal' rather than a realistic expectation.   Plan to like your job and consider anything above that as a bonus.


  1. I'm sorry but I have to respectfully disagree with your post.

    I see your heart is to promote contentment in people. This is a noble and admirable quality to foster in people’s lives. However, I feel that in this case, this isn't the appropriate area of life to promote this quality.

    I believe that each person has been created with skills that they are good at and that they enjoy using. Some call the place where you have skills that you are motivated to use the 'sweet spot'.

    Sadly most people have not discovered their 'sweet spot' and, as you stated in your post, are very unhappy/unsatisfied in their current position of employment/career.

    The logic that says, "it isn't normal to love your job" and therefore you shouldn't need love your job is flawed. It's the same as saying, "in the United States it isn't normal to be at a healthy weight and therefore you should settle to be 'normal' and live your life at an unhealthy weight". What is "normal" isn't necessarily good.

    Sometimes settling for what is 'normal' is used as an excuse for not pursuing what you should be pursuing.

    For example let's look at tools. Each tool is created for a specific job. Other tools will 'work' ok. But the best tool for the job is the one that was created to accomplish the job.

    I believe that each person was created to perform a specific function. If they are performing that function they will be the most satisfied, the most content, and the most fulfilled.

    Now there may be multiple 'jobs' that use that function. You may be completely happy in several different jobs as long as you are getting to use those skills which you are good at and that you enjoy using.

    I'm not attacking you. I think your heart is in the right place. I just have some different experiences in life that lead me to view this topic from a different angle and therefore lead me to a different conclusion.

    Best wishes on your blog and keep up the good work!

  2. Lynden, Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    I don't think I disagree with your points really. My main point is that 'love' may be too much for many or most of us to expect or obtain.

    I think everyone should strive to find a job they love. Thats a good goal. However I think it should be viewed as a stretch goal and not a expectation. I think people should be satisfied with jobs they like and are happy with and this is a more reasonable level of expectation. I think that 'love' is a pretty high level of emotion that very few people will ever feel for their work.

    Its like telling children that they should all get PhDs'. Its a nice goal to work towards but only 2-3% of us will get that level of education and you haven't' failed if you merely have a bachelors or masters or high school diploma.

    Of course everyones different. Some people will easily love their work and might love various jobs. So for them 'loving' their work is an easy goal. Other people may never love work at all cause it just isn't in them to enjoy a job to that level so if they at least don't dislike their job then thats the best they'll really obtain.



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