More Than a Job

What do you love to do? This is a question that I always asked when I facilitated workshops in career decision making. There were always people who disliked that question. Others were challenged and excited by it. But I was always confident that it was possible to make money doing what you love. So I kept pressing.

Working on my own answers to the question is an ongoing process for me. I’m one of those people who usually works in a particular job for about two years. Then I need to move on to new challenges.

So I often find myself addressing the question, in order to help me decide what I want to do next.

At some point I came across a great book called "The Money is the Gravy”. In it, the author described a process for finding passion at work; your calling. It’s something that I have both taught, and incorporated into my own life.

The process is this. Three circles: skill, enjoyment, meaning. If you spend the time to define each of these areas for yourself, your calling will be at the place where the three overlapping circles intersect. The key is to identify your personal truth within each of the circles.

Unfortunately, many of us work at a job because we’re skilled at it. But, we don’t really enjoy it and it has no deeper meaning for us with respect to our values. In this job, no matter what it is and how much it pays, we can never feel passionate. We would never say, "I love my job” and really mean it.

Or, we may enjoy the people we work with but don’t have the skills to do the job well. Same end result. You get the picture.

I find myself editing my three circles at least once a year. I do this to reflect my growth. With each experience, I have an opportunity to learn something. We all do. So if I use this process as a tool for planning, I need to keep it updated. The content of my circles changes as I do.

Often, my updates are connected in some way with the New Year and planning for what I would like to focus on and achieve. In many cases, this has something to do with a shift in my work, whether making the actual move or just preparing for it.

As I’ve come to know myself better, the process becomes easier and the changes I make as a result are not quite as dramatic. Now, I do have more moments in the point of intersection. It’s in those moments when I lose time. I’m experiencing flow.

My goal is for the intersection to be the constant state of my work. I’m not absolutely convinced that it is possible, but I figure it’s worth reaching for.

I don’t believe this process is about finding the one job that I’m meant to do in the world. Rather, it’s about understanding and being honest about the details that fill my three circles. Then, it’s about using that information to make choices that reflect it.

There will be many different types of work that fit in the point of intersection. Our ideal work can take on many faces, as long as it includes the most important parts of all three circles of skill, enjoyment and meaning. For each of us, it will look different.

This year, if you want to move closer to being able to genuinely say, "I love my work”, give the process a try. Display it. And then let it guide you.

Marla Hunter-Bellavia is a writer in Nanaimo.