“Do you love your work?” I get that question from people all the time. Without hesitation, I say, “Yes!”
However, that doesn’t mean I spend 24/7 in absolute bliss. The work I do with non-profits is demanding, draining and difficult. However, I know that it’s something I love because, at the end of the day, I still feel incredibly grateful for and energized by what I do.
Without question, I have been blessed with work I love. From my first job out of college with a small non-profit in Philadelphia to my work now as senior partner and co-owner of Veritus Group, I have always loved what I do.
I know how lucky I am, and, how rare that is. I’m aware of how many people there are who hate their jobs or are so stressed out that they can barely function outside of work. So, I find myself in a unique place to truly be able to say that my work has brought me great joy.
I’ve been pondering this and I think I have a few insights as to why this is the case. You might find them helpful, whether you already love what you do or you’re looking to love what you do everyday. Here is what I have learned and experienced.
- Figure out what brings you joy. For me, what brought me joy was working with committed people who wanted to change the world. Secondly, it was doing work that suited my strengths. I didn’t realize it until later in life, but I had chosen a profession (fundraising) that resonated with all of my strengths. When you work within your strengths, you are more productive and happy. If you want to figure out what your strengths are, I highly recommend reading Strengths Finder 2.0 or Now Discover Your Strengths. both published by Gallup. If you buy the book you’ll be given a pass code to use for an on-line assessment. For many people who have taken the assessment, it has been life changing. The point is, you will find joy when you work within the strengths you were born with.
- Look for clues in your daily life that give you energy. I’m a people person, an extrovert. I get my energy from being with people. This obviously has helped me in my work as a fundraiser. I also like to work on multiple projects all at the same time. I love variety. All of this gets me pumped up. So, I pursued work that provided me this, and it’s paid off.
- Spend time with people you like. I would go even further and say that if you really want to love your work, you want to work with people you love. While I’ve really only interviewed for just a couple of jobs in my life, what I looked for most in the company or organization were people that I resonated with. Did they share my values? Did they like to have fun? Were they honest? Were they professional and expecting quality work? I knew that if those values were present going into an organization or company, I was going to find people I really liked and would eventually love. That might sound kind of silly, but it’s a value I really hold. Let me tell you, it’s paid off tremendously. My business partner, Richard Perry, and I have been partners at Veritus Group for almost four years, but we’ve known each other for 16 years. Richard actually hired me to work at an agency he owned with his partner, Tim Burgess. I remember the day I went in and talked to these two about working with them. I knew within the first five minutes that I wanted to work with these guys. Over the last 16 years our relationship has developed into a solid, loving friendship. We are very different from one another, we each have very different gifts and skills, we argue, we sometimes hurt each other, but we are committed to keeping each other accountable, working on our friendship, and seeking forgiveness when needed. You might think, ”Doesn’t that get in the way of your work?” No! It actually strengthens our work relationship. Gosh, when you can work with people you like and love, it makes it so much easier to get up in the morning. By the way, there is still a tremendous bond with all the people we worked with at that agency. Many are to this day working together in some fashion. It’s actually quite remarkable how close we all still are.
- Don’t pursue money or status. Do what brings you life. I have never, ever pursued money or status as a reason to take a job. And, even when I was working for someone else, I never had to ask for a raise or a higher position. I believed that if I did superior work and provided great value to my clients, good things would happen. And they did. The reason I did well was because I was doing something I loved for a company that valued allowing people to work within their strengths. I did then, and I’m doing now, what brings me life. Today, I truly believe the reason Veritus is so successful is that I get to do work that I love, with a business partner and friend I love, for clients that are helping to change the world. There are moments when Richard and I are having dinner, or talking, and we’ll just tear up with gratitude for the work we get to do everyday. Amazing.
- Always be on a journey of self-awareness. This is a big one. The more you know about who you are, the more you will know what kind of work you love. It’s a very simple concept, yet it’s also very challenging. It means you have to take a hard look at yourself many times and evaluate why you do what you do. It means taking counsel from others and hearing things that are not easy to hear. It’s one of life’s difficult, yet most rewarding tasks. And, if you do this well, you’ll find the place that gives you life.
So, this is what I’ve gleaned over the years as to why I love what I do everyday. Again, this doesn’t mean that I don’t have bad days or that I don’t get frustrated and down sometimes. I do. But, overall, what I do for my work gives me life and great energy and joy.
Why should you love what you do? Because you are in a profession that requires a tremendous amount of love energy. Look, I know that sounds a little “woo-woo”, but if we are honest about it, it’s true. Our work is to bring the world’s greatest needs to people who NEED to give. This cannot be done without love. It requires you to, in a sense, become a broker of two needs coming together to make a difference in the world.
If you do not love your work, you will not be able to make this happen, and ultimately you will fail. No question. Richard and I have seen it over and over again.
Let me be clear. You have to love your work. And, if you don’t love your work, that’s okay, there is no shame in that, but you need to find something else that brings you energy and joy. You can’t continue to do this particular work. It’s not right for the organization you are working with and, more importantly, it does not serve the donors you work with each day. Those donors need someone who loves what they do.
I would advise you to take a real self-assessment at this time. What brings you joy? What are your strengths? Do you like the people you work with? Are you motivated to do great things everyday? At the end of the day do you feel a good sense of exhaustion or are you just stressed out?
These are the important questions. Do work you love. Do work that brings you joy.