How to find a job that makes you happy

On iPersonic we do offer you important resources for your dream job search with our career test and our iPersonic Career Profile. An article I recently came across demonstrates the desperate need for this. Its content with the heading “Every third person dislikes his/her job” shocked me. The results of a representative survey conducted on behalf of the German Labor Union gives food for thought:

Of the 6168 questioned on average only 12% described their work as “good”, 54% as “mediocre” and for 34% it was just “bad”.

The numbers fluctuated somewhat depending on the professional branch; when asked the unskilled laborers – who is surprised – were especially dissatisfied. Not one of them liked his/her work and 61% responded to the question with “bad”. Temporary workers turned out to be above average unhappy, as well. One the other hand, engineers and members of professions involving natural sciences were satisfied with their work 23% above average while 21% were the most seldom dissatisfied. According to the study they have a “high measure of influence- and development opportunities, meaningful work, a minimum of physical and emotional stress, a commensurate income combined with a high degree of professional security and supportive, development- and learn conducive work organizations- and environments.”
Beyond all statistics the bottom line remains that in Germany every morning more than one third of all employed head for work anything but happy or motivated. If one adds the “mediocre” responses, the bottom line is that almost 90% are not happy with their work and probably would respond with “no” to the question “do you love your job?” Based on a 5-day week and six weeks vacation we end up with 231 days per year that these people spend eighth (or more) hours doing something they don’t really like at best and something they truly dislike, at worst. Isn’t that an awful thought?

Yes, I am familiar with all the arguments that one hears, comes up with and internalizes during one’s life: “I know what I would like to do but I can’t make any money that way,” - “I would have loved to become this or that but never got the chance,” or, “I would love to do something totally different, but if I quit my job how do I pay the rent?” And the worst: “I don’t really like my job but have no idea what else I could do.” That sounds as if one has lost any feeling for what one would really enjoy and feel comfortable doing. Do you also feel that way? If so, I have a neat exercise for you today that I found in a great book (you’ll find the link for the book below): “The Job from Heaven” or, “The Job from Hell.” It is very simple. Take paper and pencil and let your imagination run free. There are no limitations – for the next few minutes I can perform magic and you can ask me for the most wonderful imaginable job. There is one condition: It must involve a real job with specific tasks, a schedule and compensation. Consequently the following questions must have been answered when you are done:
  • What exactly do you do? (Be specific, please!)
  • Where do you do it? (place, premises, outside, separate rooms, in your home country, in a foreign country. etc.?)
  • From when to when do you do it? (daily, from – to, only in the summer, only in the winter?)
  • With whom do you work together? (who are your colleagues, will you require assistants, is there a boss, who are the potential customers?)
  • What is your pay?
Done? Was it easy or tough? Especially if your response to this question was “tough”, you’ll probably have more fun and be done quickly with the second part of this exercise. Now I am going to change from the good genie into the devil himself and instead of the job from Heaven I’ll send you a job that’ll be Hell on Earth for you! It is going to be as awful, unsatisfactory and unsuitable for you as possible. I would also like to have your order for this – no worries, it won’t be filled but it is important, nevertheless. Now, please repeat the entire game by responding to the above questions except this time with the premise: Which job would you hate like the plague?

Done? Fantastic! If you had a problem with the first part of this exercise, you now have the perfect negative version of your future dream job. All you have to do now is find the opposite of everything you just came up with and the description of what you would truly love to do is right there in front of you. If you sat lonely and isolated in your office filing dusty records in your job from Hell, your dream job probably includes nice colleagues - and maybe you would rather deal with people than with records? Or with animals – and all of it outside in the fresh air rather than inside an office? Or … or … With this negative model it’ll be easier for you to identify what you are looking for in your dream job. If against all expectations you had no problem describing it during the first part of the exercise, the negative model may provide you with this or the other important detail that you may have forgotten during the first attempt but that may be important for your complete (job) happiness. Go ahead; invest a little time to tweak the final scenario. It should truly be perfect. Our career test and your iPersonic Career Profile can be quite helpful in this task.
If you are totally satisfied with the results, in case you are ready go along with it there is a follow-up assignment that is liable to generate a few very interesting insights for you. Here it comes: During the next two weeks for one hour on one day of your choice act as if you had decided to have your perfect dream job become reality! You are permitted to set your alarm clock and quit when it rings (you can obviously also keep going but you don’t have to). During this one-hour you pull out all the stops and do everything to get this dream job. Collect information, get a list of addresses and help lines, call contacts – whatever it takes. You are dreaming of a specific additional education? Visit the Internet and find out where and under what conditions you can get it, request the registration forms. You would like to work abroad? Great. Call the language school and register for a crash course in that language, investigate potential employers, etc. You would really prefer to go out on your own? OK, this begins with a call on the subject “livelihood establishment support” to the appropriate authority and a request for the appropriate documentation. Afterwards, please sit down and develop a business plan – which sales can you expect within which period of time, the expenses involved, who are going to be your customers, what about the competition, how are you going to bridge the time when your income does not meet your needs …

Understand? Here the issue is not to drop everything and dive into something new. You are just supposed to spend a limited amount of time (just a silly hour) to seriously act “as if” and to see how it feels when you do it. In this way you garner valuable information about yourself and what you want to do. Are you going to be frightened of your own audacity? Are you becoming euphoric? Is it difficult or easy for you to tackle your own dream? Why? When the alarm clock tings you can just stop … or continue … or even change the scenario according to what you‘ve just learned…

The book containing this exercise was written by Barbara Sheer and has the captivating title: I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was. The exercise above with the question which job would make you truly happy and which obstacles (inwardly or outwardly) keep you from doing just that is only the entry of a long journey into yourself. I like this book very much and frequently use many of its numerous exercises during my work with clients – I am going to introduce some of them as we go along. I am also one of the people who took a number of detours on the subject profession and finally arrived in the exact place where I can say that I love my profession and would not want to trade it for any other job in the world. To express it with a quote from the book: “It is a good life if one can get up in the morning and hardly wait to get going.” Every morning. Not just Saturday/Sunday and on vacation. I believe that life is simply too short to find happiness only during free time. Maybe that is why I wished that there are not only 12% out there who experience something like that in their lives, as well….