Can You Find Love Again?
Nearly everyone we encounter has a love story to share. Once in a while, they are living in the moment; the romance, the excitement, and the mystery that keeps their attention is palpable. When we are near them, we get the same tingly feeling we used to know when we were in love.
More often than not, love stories are told with a tinge of nostalgia— love lost; love from the past; love that was rich, and full, rewarding and nurturing, but that is now only a fading memory. Love that drove us home at night and woke us before the alarm the next morning. A love that made our Monday better than our Friday.
Of course, I am talking about being in love with your job.
We have all experienced it. The job where the stars aligned and we were bonded to our role on a cellular level. It wasn’t just what we did— it was who we worked for, who we worked with, how we felt used up in a good way at the end of every day. It was about what the company stood for and what we accomplished as part of that team.
This much-loved job made us whole. We were that job and that job was us. We talked about it with friends. They were jealous. Some didn’t believe that what we said about our job could possibly be true. In a way, we were almost embarrassed at our own good fortune.
We didn’t admit this in public, but we would have done this job if they paid us a fraction of what we were paid. This wasn’t work, it was love.
But sadly, those days are gone for many of us. Was it really love, or just a fling? An affair we had with professional happiness that, for whatever reason, is no longer? Are we now relegated to the survival drudgery of doing what we have to because we can’t find the job that lets us do what we want?
Sure, we put on a good face. We say the right things. We even tell ourselves it isn’t so bad. We compare our misery to others’, concluding that our situation, while not the best, could be a lot worse. And we buck up, start the car, back out of the garage, show up and do our best. And we count the days until we can retire or quit.
Why? Why are we content to be in a bad romance with our jobs? Why don’t we go out and find love again? Why are we willing to do what we are doing when the opportunity to do what we want to do is out there?
There are a lot of answers to this. Most likely the obstacle is fear: fear of failure, of rejection, of starting over, of trying to live on less money for awhile, of the unknown, or perhaps even fear of being happy.
Maybe we aren’t afraid, but simply can’t stop doing what we are doing in order to have the time to find what we want in a job. Maybe we feel an obligation to the people we work with and commiserate with. Maybe there is an unspoken pact that we will suffer together and find our bond in the unity of our shared bad experience. Or—be honest—maybe it is just easier to stay where we are, take the money, do what is required and bear it rather than do something about it.
There is hope if you choose to let it in. There are jobs that are lovable, rewarding, fulfilling, challenging, and available. There are bosses who are real, compassionate, charismatic, instructional, supportive, and fun. There are companies who actually care about their people and treat them as the "most valuable asset" they reference in their mission statements.
They won’t likely come to find you. You need to go look for them.
1) Start by being really introspective. Ask yourself questions such as: what do I really want to do? What kind of company do I want to do it for? What should the boss be like? What does the culture need to be like? Be honest; really think hard about this and write down your answers.
2) Next, determine how you are going to assess whether or not these characteristics really exist in the companies you are investigating. The company will certainly tell you they are all exactly what you say you want. But unless they allow you in to see the soft underbelly of their environment, don’t trust what they say alone. Companies frequently aren’t what they say they are; they are what others say they are. Do your homework.
3) Finally, once you find the company and the job you know you can fall in love with you may start the courtship. Great companies don’t have to recruit. The word of mouth spreads much faster than they can possibly hire. Great companies select great people from a pool of the best candidates. You must send a loud and clear message that you want to join the team.
Jack London wrote, "Don’t loaf and invite inspiration. Light out after it with a club. And if you don’t get it nonetheless you will get something that looks remarkably like it."
What is true of inspiration is true of a lovable job. It rarely just "happens" and it rarely occurs without hard work and a commitment to finding it.
You can love again. You have to make the decision to do it and you have to commit the time to courtship. You already know the return on investment is off the charts for you and everyone around you.
As Italian is the language of love, "Ti adoro il mio lavoro!"