Updated: Sep 17, 2021
"I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process." Vincent Van Gogh
We can’t all love our work, and even when we do, there are still parts that suck. How you define what makes a job great can set you up to succeed or fail. So, I am sharing 7 questions to help you find out whether a job is the right one for you (ask yourself them in the order below):
1: Does the industry interest me?
Brands die, company’s change, and people move on. Industries are more permanent, so make sure you start off by being interested in the industry. It’s a great first question to ask yourself, and a safer bet than taking a job just because you love the boss, brand, or company.
Importantly, being interested in what you do is also one of 4 psychological assets* that highly gritty people have. Highly gritty people are consistently more successful in their careers than those that aren’t.
*Source: GRIT, published 2016, by Angela Duckworth
2: Is there a cultural fit?
As Peter Drucker famously said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Align yourself with a company that has similar values, beliefs, and customs that you do. Cultural misalignment is a sure-fire way to find a job that eventually you won’t like. If you get it wrong, one day in the not-too-distant future, you’ll be sitting in a meeting and suddenly realise that you don’t belong. Culture is King.
“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” Albert Einstein
3: Would I love to have my colleagues’ home for dinner?
I am not suggesting that you need to be best mates with everyone at work, or party all night long with your colleagues. In fact, that might not be the best idea, but are you going to have some fun with them? There needs to be enough people in your organisation that ‘get you’. People that you’d be happy to invite home for dinner.
4: Will I enjoy the functional elements of the role?
Make sure you enjoy the parts of your role that you’ve been employed to do. This question appears stupidly obvious, but it still needs to be asked. We spend most of our time actioning tasks and following processes that are part of our Job Descriptions (better make sure some of them are fun). So, whether that’s project management, digital marketing, reconciliations, customer service, operations, or business development, just make sure you enjoy the functional elements of your role.
“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” Dale Carnegie
5: Does the job fit my lifestyle?
This can be a bit tricky because sometimes there are limitations to how closely you can match your lifestyle with a job. However, if you have the choice, you should match your job with your lifestyle. If you love routine, find a job that has routine. If you like flexibility, find a flexible job. If you are always tinkering and fixing things, find a job that allows you to do some tinkering and fixing.
6: Will I be good at it?
If you’ve answered the 5 questions above to your satisfaction, then it’s likely you’re going to be good at whatever the job is. Working in a role that is aligned to your skillset will a] make life easier for you, and b] be more enjoyable because most of us derive pleasure from being good at something.
7: Are my expectations realistic?
Have you set realistic expectations? Are you setting the bar too high? Perfect jobs are about as common as four-leaf clovers (1 in 10,000), so if you’re looking for a perfect job, good luck with that!
Trust me, I’m lucky because I love my job, but it’s not perfect. I have good, average, and bad days. Even if you love what you do, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to love everything about your job. So, set realistic expectations.
“Talent means nothing, while experience, acquired in humility and with hard work, means everything.” Patrick Suskind
For any of you looking for a role or career change, I hope these questions have helped. Remember, that for most of us, no matter how important we think our jobs are, they’re actually not that important in grand scheme of things. So don't stress too much about 'what' you do for a living, focus more on 'how' you do it. Finally, with that thought in mind, here's one last piece of advice from Bronnie Ware:
She was a palliative carer and is the author of “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying”. According to her research, the top five most common regrets shared by people nearing death are:
1. "I wish I hadn’t worked so hard."
2. "I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."
3. "I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings."
4. "I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends."
5. "I wish that I had let myself be happier."
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Keep on smiling.