How to find work you love – in 4 easy steps |

How to find work you love – in 4 easy steps

JK0910 How to find work you lovePhoto of businessman working by the beach from Shutterstock.

Given how much of our lives are spent in the workplace, you want to be sure that your work is going to improve your happiness levels. Everyone is looking for work that they find fulfilling; the all-too common advice being that job seekers should follow their passion, which is rather unhelpful to those who aren’t entirely sure how their passions can earn them a paycheque.

Cal Newport, Assistant Professor of computer science at Georgetown University, doesn’t just find this “follow your passion” advice unhelpful, he believes it is much more dangerous than that. In his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Newport suggests that there are four rules that must be followed to ensure that you find work that you find fulfilling and increases your chances of happiness.

Rule 1: Don’t follow your passion

Newport found that no research supports the idea that anyone should determine what their passion is and pursue it. On the contrary, he found that motivation (and happiness) in the workplace relies on three factors:

  1. Autonomy (where employees feel like they have control over their day and their actions are important)
  2. Competence (where employees feel that they are good at what they do)
  3. Relatedness (where employees feel connected with the people that they work with)

These three things should be the starting point for any job search, rather than a specific “passion”. He also found that many people don’t even have pre-existing passions to seek in the first place!

Rule 2: Be so good they can’t ignore you

Instead of following your passion, Newport suggests that great, fulfilling work is a direct result of an employee attaining rare and valuable skills. It is only through the adoption of a mindset where you focus on relentless improvement and a focus on craft, rather than looking for immediate gains.

Rule 3: Turn down a promotion

Along with the focus on learning valuable skills, you should prioritize control over your work. Gaining a level of control over what you do and how you do it is a huge factor in happiness levels at work, and Newport provides many examples of individuals who have taken advantage of the valuable nature of their skills to negotiate a greater level of control over their working lives.

Rule 4: Think small, act big

Another compelling trait in the careers of happy individuals is a sense of mission. By having the feeling that you are working toward solving a greater problem or contributing to a greater cause, you bring meaning and value into your working life. That said, even when you think big and look for a greater mission, employees should work towards it using small tests and experiments to give them feedback on whether or not they are on the correct path.

The book is well worth the read, and you can find out more about Cal Newport’s work on his blog.

Do you have any tips or suggestions on how to find work that you love? What did you do to land your dream gig? Tell us in the comments section below!