Mark Twain and Confucius are among those who have been linked to the old adage, “find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Daniel H. Pink provided something more modern in “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” He said, “The secret to high performance and satisfaction — at work, at school, and at home — is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”
Each of them has a point. On average, about one-third of a person’s life is spent at work. It is no wonder our professional experiences affect other aspects of our lives and how we perceive ourselves. Choosing a job because you are passionate about it generates a ripple of positive effects.
Being excited about your work enhances your motivation and brings better productivity and performance, in turn, increasing engagement with a work product that is more efficiently completed. Positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi describes the experience of being in a “flow state” with complete immersion in something you love. “Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost,” he said.
Csíkszentmihályi hits on an essential element: you probably enjoy this work because you are predisposed to be good at it. Further developing what comes naturally to you leads to your best work. It will therefore bring a sense of confidence and fulfillment professionally. It may also make you more likely to seek and receive growth and professional development opportunities.
All of this is visible in the experience of one grocery store clerk. “Here I am, almost three years in with a highly-rated grocery chain, and I’ve never been happier with my job. You think it’s just opening boxes and putting things on shelves, but I’m in charge of a whole corner of my department,” the clerk said. “I do it by myself. I have men who have been doing this job for over a decade that know less than me … I put a lot of work and pride into my part of the store, and it shows.”
Overall Life Fulfillment
When you are excited and engaged at work, you are also more likely to enjoy the rest of your life, whereas frustration tends to spill over and impact your mood and personal relationships.
“The reality is that work is such a big part of your life that it doesn’t make sense to think of ‘work’ and ‘life’ as two separate things that must be balanced,” said Mathew Mehrotra, a chief digital officer at BMO Financial Group. “Your life doesn’t stop when you enter the office, just like your work may not stop when you enter your home.”
Choosing a job you like will also probably involve enjoying your work environment. Your co-workers will likely share similar passions, and being around like-minded people can be a comforting experience. You may also be more likely to appreciate them personally, develop friendships, and have fun at work.
Last year, 20% of the American labor force reported feeling lonely at work. “Co-workers have a huge influence on the way you feel at work and how you feel when you go home,” Ryan Tseng, CEO of Shield AI, noted.
Having a job you love can reduce stress and improve your physical health. Last year, 44% of employees worldwide said they were stressed for much of the day prior. Stress can have many negative physical consequences, ranging from headaches to long-term heart and blood vessel issues. Pursuing happiness can bring the opposite effects, in addition to being worth it for its own sake.