Talk about a million dollar question.
A 2017 Gallup poll found that as much as 70 percent of the American workforce is not engaged at work. That is, more than half of American workers feel no connection to their jobs, so they scrape by with the bare minimum—hating their jobs (and even bosses too).
If you hate your job, or maybe just feel unexcited by your work, you’re not alone.
Why do we end up in jobs we hate? There’s no single reason, but J.T. O’Donnell, a career coach with more than 15 years under her belt believes the problem is that we’re chasing the wrong things. Many become addicted the rush that comes from being recognized for doing a good job, so we choose careers that sound impressive or get us the most nods of recognition, but neglect or even run counter to our personal values, leaving us highly praised but largely unfulfilled.
But there’s hope for all those work-weary women out there. It is possible to love you job—or at the very least be quite pleased with it.
Lower your standards (bear with me here)
It’s okay to not love your job.
Let that thought free you.
Social media perpetuates the notion that the only job for you is the one that you love. Call it what you like: the cult of overwork, productivity culture, hustle culture, performative workaholism—we’re now primed to believe that unless we greet Monday morning with genuine passion, we’re failing.
And that’s just not true.
People are so much more than their jobs. While the way we spend 40+ hours each week does dictate much of our mindshare and energy and even lifestyle, a job is only what you do, it’s not who you are.
It’s okay if your job doesn’t define your life. It’s okay if your job is simply a means to an end: a way for you to support your family, or afford to live in a city you love, or fund your travel habit.
That being said, you don’t have to hate your job. There are ways to find a job you love.
Write down your priorities
Start by writing down your priorities. Work-related or not, put them down.
Care about serving kids in your community? Write it down. Environmental sustainability? Write that too. The ability to travel when you want to? Freedom to work remotely? The opportunity to climb the career ladder? Do you need the ability to flex your work schedule around your kids’ school day? Do you need to be able to take care of an aging parent?
Beginning with your priorities will help you put the landscape in perspective. Put them in order, star the ones that are non-negotiable.
Make a list of your skills
Make a list of your skills, even the “soft” skills, even the obvious ones.
Perhaps you’re an excellent mediator, bringing reason to a heated debate, keeping your cool in tense situations. Maybe you have an eye for design or environment, perhaps you’re the best damn party host around. What about planning? Can you plan a killer vacation on the cheap? Do coworkers often come to you to get help bringing their ideas to life? Are you good at encouraging others and motivating those who are struggling? Are you great with kids? A stellar writer or public speaker? A natural-born leader?
If you’re having trouble making a list, ask a friend or partner to help. Chances are they see a lot of talents you haven’t even identified yourself.
Is there something you’d like to see on that list that isn’t there yet? Write that in a separate column.
It feels good to do something you’re good at. Use this list to help you identify the type of work or industry you might want to pursue.
Map out your goals
Now that you’ve thought through your priorities, start marking down some short- and long-term goals. Again, these don’t necessarily have to be related to work.
One year: Finish paying off student loans and travel to Europe
Two years: Buy a house
Three years: Travel to Asia
Five years: Be in the position to freelance or consult so I can control my days and workload. Possibly grad school.
Ten years: Make plans to have kids?
The idea is to imagine where you’d like for your life and career to be in the coming years so you can find a job and a company that can help you achieve those.
It will be much easier to love a job that’s helping you pursue and reach your personal goals.
Start tapping your network
Alright, you’ve marked down your priorities, outlined your goals, made a list of your skills. Time to start talking—start talking to your connections to suss out opportunities that align with your priorities, goals, and skills.
Remember that your network goes far beyond your LinkedIn connections (though by all means use them too). Talk to friends and family members, former coworkers, fellow parents at work, your daughter’s music teacher. Let them know that you’re looking for a change.
Find a company that shares your values
You deserve to work for a company or organization that shares your values. Knowing you’re supported and that your work matters is important in the search for a job you love.
So, you care about moving up the career ladder, working for a company that has an altruistic mission, equal opportunities for women and men, or great maternity leave—the good news is that there’s a company that shares those same values.
Use the InHerSight company match tool to get matched to a job at a company that shares your values and supports your goals and needs.
Interview the company
Remember that a job interview is just as much your time as it is theirs. Use that time to really probe about the company and the job.
Ask tough questions, be honest about what you’re looking for in a new job, be honest about what you don’t want in a new position. Tell them what your deal-breakers are, ask them to provide examples of how they will support your values and goal.
Read more: How to Nail a Phone Interview
Finding a job and a career you love can take time. That’s okay. Sometimes that means taking an entry-level job that leads to a better one, sometimes that means a career change, sometimes that means going back to school. All of those things take time.
Keep your eyes on the goal, but know that the way there might be pretty fulfilling as well.
Time to find a job you love? We can help with that.
Check out InHerSight’s live list of the best companies for women (as rated by women) or use our match tool to get matched to a company that will support your growth.