zenhabits : breathe

The Five Things You Need to Know About Finding the Work You Love

“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers … If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” - Steve Jobs in a Stanford commencement speech

One of the keys to happiness — as well as productivity and effectiveness at work — is finding work you love, that you’re passionate about. Work you want to do, instead of just have to do.

If you really want to do it, it barely seems like work at all.

I’ve finally found that work, in blogging here at Zen Habits and with writing in general. I don’t drag my feet to go to work anymore — now I can’t wait to get up early and start working.

And I’m just one of many who’ve done that — there are people all over the world pursuing their dreams, working with passion, losing themselves in their work. Are you one of them? Do you want to be?

The difficult thing for many people is finding what that work is in the first place. They don’t know where to start, and it seems a hopeless cause.

It’s not. You can find that work, but it’ll take some effort. Here’s what you need to know about finding the work you love:

  1. It won’t find you — you have to seek it. Doing the same ol’ thing everyday isn’t the way to find the work you love. Sometimes, you get extremely lucky and it just lands in your lap. Most people, however, aren’t that lucky — you’ve got to take action, and you’ve got to seek it.
  2. You can’t stop looking until you find it. As Steve Jobs said, never settle. If you find something that’s just a bit better than your current job, that’s better … but don’t stop there. Keep looking. Don’t give up the search.
  3. You’ll have to look in lots of funny places. Really explore. Try new hobbies. Talk to new people. Read articles on different blogs, in different magazines and books. Inspiration might come from someplace you never imagined.
  4. You might not love it completely until you get good at it. Most likely you’ll know that you love something once you find it … but at that point, you’ve got to work at getting better at it, with all your might. Once you get good, it’ll be something you can’t stop doing, because you’ll get a thrill at doing something great.
  5. Once you find it, you have to pour yourself into it. If you find the work you love, you’ve been given a gift. Don’t spoil it — truly pour yourself into that work. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the other loves in your life, including family and friends, but when you’re working, you should devote yourself completely to that work.

Here’s how to go about seeking your passion:

  1. Break out of your routine, and dare to ask. You’ve got to stop what you’re doing (maybe not at this moment, but today, or tomorrow, not next week) and be bold enough to ask yourself if you love what you’re doing. And if you don’t, then what is it you really love? And if you don’t know, then are you going to look for it?
  2. Spend time thinking about it. It’s good to take an hour or two to really think about the question. It’s worth the investment. Really think about what you love, about your life, about what you want to be doing.
  3. Think of what you already love. Do you have hobbies you’re passionate about? What do you like reading about? What do you talk about with others? Is there something you always wanted to do but forgot about, or were too afraid to pursue?
  4. What are your dreams? Is there something you’ve always wanted to accomplish in life? Almost everybody has some dream like that, sometime in their lives, but often they don’t think it’s realistic. Give it more thought now.
  5. What are you good at? What are your strengths? Do you have any talents? Is there something you’ve always excelled at? Pursue these things.
  6. Take action. If you don’t actually do anything, you’ll never find it. Start doing research, start making calls, make appointments, take career assessment tests. Take action, now.
  7. Explore new things. Try out new hobbies that sound interesting. Read about new things. Find new ways to explore — break out of your patterns.
  8. Once you find something interesting, pursue it. Read about it. Learn, and try it, and do it, and get better at it. Don’t be afraid to pursue it — fear is what stops most people from finding this happiness.
  9. Then take action – again. Now that you’ve learned about it, give it a try! You might be able to pursue it within your current job, or do it as a side job or just as a hobby at first. Write to people who are doing it to find out how they got started. Check out a few books on the library and do some research online to find out about the first steps you need to take — and then take them! Pursue your dreams!

“Getting up in the morning and having work you love is what makes life different for people. And if you get into a position where you really don’t love what you’re doing, get off it. It’s easy to be on someone else’s track or something that sounds like a safety play.” -Bob Woodward



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