by Mary Feduccia, Ph.D., LPC
At this time of year as we reflect on our blessings, I’d like to ask you a question. On a scale from 1 to 10, how grateful are you for the job you are in? If you’re not working, use the same scale to think about a job you may have had in the past. I’ve found that far too many of us, when our alarm clocks go off in the morning, dread getting up and going to work. And for many of us, it’s not just the “job” but the whole career that’s the problem.
Rather than having gratitude for the work we do each day, many of us experience stress, burnout, and sometimes hopelessness about being stuck in something we don’t enjoy. Countless research studies support the fact that work communities in which employees express gratitude to each other during the workday and are generally grateful for their jobs create positive work environments that are dynamic and productive.
Wise Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” This concept captures perfectly the essence of cultivating gratitude for our work. When the work we do brings enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment, it seems we’re barely working, at least not in the true sense of the word. Gratitude naturally flows from being able to do the work we love and when we’re able to express gratitude for our work, we’re usually more positive, healthy, and fulfilled. What a blessing!
If the idea of finding work you can truly be grateful for seems like an elusive dream, consider this: in all of my work with individuals who were unhappy in their work or confused about knowing the work they could be most grateful for, I’ve discovered the underlying core issue. In almost all situations, there is a disconnect between the individual and the job or career in one or more of four areas: interests, abilities, personality, or values. That’s it! Those four areas are critically important to explore to determine best fit with a job or career. We can be interested in a particular line of work, but if we don’t have the abilities, it’s not a good fit.
Some of us have the abilities to do well in a certain career but lack interest, so it’s not a good fit. Different personalities are better suited to certain careers than to others, but we often don’t know what they are. And a misalignment with values is often the cause for a lack of fit in a particular job or career. Grasping the significance of this concept is the key to finding the work that can become our passion.
There are countless high school juniors and seniors confused and often overwhelmed about college majors and careers that would be best for them. Thousands of college students across the country engage in “major shopping” trying to arrive at the major most likely to be the right ones for them.
As a result, they change majors frequently and take much longer to graduate or drop out along the way. And a significant number of college graduates earn their degrees and launch their careers only to realize that they’ve made poor choices but don’t know the reason for this, what to do, or where to turn. Often when further along in life, many become disillusioned or unhappy with their work, sometimes after years of truly enjoying the work. And almost always without fail, the reason is a lack of congruence with one or more of the four critical areas.
In discovering the keys for gratitude for our work, Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, hit the nail on the head when he said, “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, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking, don’t settle.”
About Mary: Mary Feduccia, Ph.D. is a Licensed Professional Counselor, career coach, and professional development consultant. She has worked with high school and college students and older adults in career transition for the past 35 years and is grateful for the work she does in helping her clients explore their interests, abilities, personalities, and values to discover their passions. She recently retired as Director of the Olinde Career Center at LSU and launched CareerWorks360 (www.careerworks360.com) to do the work she most enjoys.