by Noam Lightstone
If you’re going to spend that much time on something, you better make sure you’re enjoying what you’re doing. You only have one shot at life.
How can you tell? Here are some key signs that you enjoy your work:
1. Time flies by and you lose yourself. You enter a flow state.
Flow is a nearly transcendental state where time ceases to matter–what is in front of you is all there is, and worries and other tasks slip away. It happens when you do something that is really enjoyable (like playing a musical instrumental you love) or being with someone you really care about.
It’s the same thing when you are doing work you really love. Time slips away and you look at the window swearing that the sun just came up when you see it’s dark outside.
And the best thing about the flow state–it feels good.
2. You feel like you are doing something of value. You feel fulfilled.
Humans feel happy when they are connected to others, but also when they give or create something of value. It doesn’t have to be curing cancer (of course that would be amazing!); it could be more simple like being a carpenter and building things that people want or need. Whatever the job, you feel a deep sense of gratitude for being able to help and serve people. You feel like you are giving back and giving people your unique ideas, abilities, and talents.
It’s another thing that defines how a happy person lives their life, and how you too can stay happy daily.
3. You are excited to wake up in the morning.
If you aren’t ready and raring to get up in the morning, something might be amiss. Of course, everyone has off days. But if you continuously dread going to work to a serious amount, it might be time to change.
Whatever you do should get you excited to get up and hit the ground running full speed. It might involve you focusing on something about your job that you didn’t see before, but it should get you up and excited.
4. Your co-workers and superiors are seen as partners to give and produce something.
When you see the people you work with not just as other bodies in the office or guys who give you TPS reports to fill out, you are in the right place. You should see them as helpers with whom you can create something big. Maybe you aren’t the big boss deciding what that is, but you believe in what you’re doing, and you love that you get to work and struggle along with these people to make it a reality.
5. You do not complain.
Many people complain about their jobs:
“It’s too early.”
“It’s too far.”
“I don’t like the people I work with.”
“I hate what I do.”
If you’re constantly complaining, you either need a mindset change (start appreciating what you have, compared to say, being unemployed and struggling to pay any bill) or it’s your internal guide showing you that you need to find a different job you would enjoy more.
Whatever the case, in work you enjoy there may be times you complain about work load or an annoying task. But overall you know these are small potatoes compared to the happiness that comes from doing what you love.
6. You don’t mind the struggle.
Work can be a struggle. Writers spend hours editing and must work daily. Artists may do entire portraits and then throw them out. Engineers come up with designs that are faulty and have to go back to the drawing board of equations and figures.
But when you enjoy your work, you don’t care. You love the struggle. You love coming back, refining, and the process of progression to get what you want. The end goal of producing something amazing is worth it.
7. You get energized when you talk about what you do.
When people ask, “What do you do?”, you get revved up. You can’t shut up about it. That is a sign that you love what you do and you want everyone else to know.
8. You feel like your work is an extension of who you are; it is a part of your personality.
Work ceases to become work when it’s not just a means to an end. The perfect work is something that deeply resonates with something inside of you, and makes you able to output amazing quality and hours upon hours of production. You are expressing yourself and feel amazing and congruent with it.
9. You find yourself interested in extra items not assigned to you.
When you really enjoy your work, you’ll want to learn about your company or things that you might not be directly responsible for, but deal with the work in general. Even if you don’t have to do certain things, you want to learn more.
10. You feel tired at the end of the day, but in a satisfied way.
There’s a difference between feeling tired because you accomplished a lot, versus being tired because you had to drag yourself kicking and screaming through the day using lots of your willpower. If you feel accomplished, satisfied, happy, and like you produced something of value when you work and that makes you tired, you’re doing it right.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. 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