Have you ever talked to someone who absolutely loves the work that they do? They actually don’t see it as “work”, and enjoy doing it each day. If so, and if you are not in that type of a situation right now – and chances are you are not – you might have been a bit envious of them. In fact, in his book The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success, Marcus Buckingham states that fewer than two out of ten of us get to play to our strengths at work most of the time.
So what can we do about this? Here’s a few ways that I have thought of to help you find the work you love:
- Consider Your Calling. The concept of a calling is not something you hear a lot of people talk about these days, but I can point you to a few excellent resources to get started. The best book on the subject that I’ve found is The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness, a book that I read in Dr. Philip Douglass’s excellent Spiritual and Ministry Formation class at Covenant Seminary two years ago. An abridged and more accessible version of the book is Guinness’s Rising to the Call.
a. Guinness tells us that for Christians, our primary calling is by Him, to Him, and for Him. The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”
b. Guinness states that our secondary calling, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him. Our secondary callings can be our jobs or vocations. Guinness states that these and other things are always the secondary, never the primary calling. They are “callings” rather than the “calling.”
A new, and more secular approach to the subject of calling is The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. Goins tells us that finding your calling is a path, rather than a plan. He refers to our secondary calling as the reason you were born. I wouldn’t quite go that far, believing for example that the reason I was born was to worship God and tell others about Him. However, I would apply what Goins writes as to say that our secondary calling is the work that we were born to do. He also refers to this calling as that thing you just cannot not do. It is not a destination, but a journey that doesn’t end until you die.
A third resource I would recommend is Matt Perman’s excellent book What’s Best Next, which I’m reading and discussing with some friends at work. Matt writes about calling and challenges his readers to develop a personal mission statement, core principles (those things that we would do even if it was to your disadvantage), and a life goal. Here’s a link to my article about personal mission statements.
Have you ever given much thought to your calling or callings? Or do you just see your work as something you need to do until that day you can retire?
2. Use Assessment Tools. I’m a big proponent of assessment tools such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), or Marcus Buckingham’s Strengthsfinder and new Stand Out 2.0 to help myself and others better understand ourselves to help find work we love. These assessments provide you reports that help you to better understand your strengths, and decide whether you are an introvert or extrovert. For example, I am an introvert. I’ve also greatly been helped in understanding being an introvert by Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. See my review here.
Have you used one of these assessments, or perhaps another one? Did it add value to you, and help you to better understand yourself, leading to helping you to find work that you love?
3. Use the concepts from Marcus Buckingham’s strengths teaching to determine work activities that strengthen and weaken you. I’m a big proponent of Buckingham’s teaching on strengths (see a list of all of his books here). Buckingham writes that “Strengths are not activities you’re good at, they’re activities that strengthen you. A strength is an activity that before you’re doing it you look forward to doing it; while you’re doing it time goes by quickly and you can concentrate; after you’ve done it, it seems to fulfill a need of yours.” He states that focusing on strengths is the surest way to greater job satisfaction, team performance and organizational excellence. I was particularly helped with his work in Go Put Your Strengths to Work, where he helps you identify those activities that strengthen you, and those that weaken or drain you. I’m passionate about this, so if you would like to talk more about it, please let me know.
4. Work with your mentors. Lastly, work with your mentors to help find work that matches your skills, experiences, personality and strengths profile. The emerging leaders that I work with – on my team and mentees – all have multiple mentors, rather than just one. That is something I advocate to get a diversity of opinions, experiences and coaching. If you are not working with mentors, start today by reading my article about the benefits.
I have seen the difference in people when they find work that they truly love. It can be powerful as the light comes on for them. They look forward to coming to work and making a difference. Is that the case with you? If not, consider these four thoughts and start your journey to finding work that you love. And let me know how your journey is going. I’d love to hear from you – just click ‘Leave a comment’ on the left side of the home page.