Choose a job you love….

And you’ll never work a day in your life….said someone important.

I often wonder if there isn’t another piece to this. Personal attitude maybe. Early in my career I worked for a very large Fortune 500 company. It was my first real job. Pay was good. Lots of opportunity and the benefits included paying for my education.

I worked there 25 years and loved it. I quit to relocate for a spousal job move but there were always lots of employees complaining. (Yes people complain about good pay, benefits, job opportunities and whatnot. It’s an “if I could only have more I’d be happy” attitude.)

Some positions I loved and some not so much. Whenever I landed on a job that was disappointing either with the leadership or the type of work, I methodically moved on.

The key was always to do your best in the job you are in. People can only see what you do, not what you could do.

This lesson comes back to me again and again. My local Starbucks seems to be a great place to work. Baristas are cheerful and in the many years I’ve been going there was only one who couldn’t wait to leave.

It’s staffed mostly by young adults working through college and some young mothers who need flexibility. They are cheerful (remember their customers for the most part haven’t had their coffee yet!) and accommodating. Don’t like your drink? They will make you another one.

They have young memories. They remember their customers, often starting the drink before you order.

This past week a young woman who had left for nursing school last year was back. She was cheery and upbeat as always. I haven’t talked to her to see how school was. I doubt she would return if it hadn’t been a positive experience.

There are other places too where the people enjoy their job. Locally we have a new “upscale” mall (that means the stuff costs more). There are two stores that I love. Their staff is helpful. Ask a question and you will get a lot of information and options. Yes it encourages purchases but when the customer walks out happy, they’ve done a good job.

Earlier this week, I was in one of those. I was checking out when I asked a question unrelated to my purchase. The woman could not help me but got someone who could. I ended up with a product that isn’t scheduled to be released until Mother’s Day and a bag full of samples.

When I left, my comment was “I couldn’t work here. It’s like a candy store! I’d want everything!” She laughed and said the staff was like that. It was a struggle to NOT spend money even with an employee discount.

This isn’t only true in retail. Recently I was to my dermatologist. The whole office was happy. I couldn’t feel friction or unhappiness (you can feel it when it’s there).

So what is it? Better pay? Better benefits? (Not likely for the retail positions) Leadership who listens? What is it that makes you love a job?

Author’s note: I did not receive any compensation from Starbucks for my positive comments (although I am open to a free mocha latte). There may be some Starbucks shops that aren’t as happy. Also congrats to the folks from my last place of employment for a well deserved “Best Place to Work” award.

 

50 thoughts on “Choose a job you love….

  1. It’s interesting….all the studies I read when I was in HR, which centered on what employees want most from their company never involved cost. They related to things such as communication, praise, input into decisions, teamwork, respect, etc.
    If more companies only understood it’s not about the money but about everything else surrounding their jobs there would be happier and more productive employees. Money doesn’t solve everything. Eventually people move on.

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  2. I wish I’d read this when I was very young or at least had someone talk to me about attitude on the job. In my first years working I was so susceptible to negativity. I hadn’t yet learned how to be grateful for the work! I seemed to pick up on everyone else’s gripes and I actually left a good job once because others soured me on it. Life taught me otherwise, but I still cringe, 30-plus years later when I think of how I could have turned a negative into a positive if I’d had a little maturity! I do like the way you worked yourself out of a job when you wanted to move on. Very strategic and very nicely done! Much better than leaving with sour grapes! (Hope Starbucks pays attention and gives you some compensation for the nice remarks!)

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    • That first company I worked for was a great place. It’s changed today with split offs and acquisitions but the pay is still good and the benefits great. There were a few jobs I didn’t enjoy there but the opportunities were good so I moved, laterally if necessary, to another department that fit me better. I am always amazed that people complain about it. I refuse to listen. When someone complains, I always tell them they can go work for minimum wage and no benefits and see if they like that better. Back when I was new to work, I had a co-worker who whined about everything. It was hard not to pick up on that.

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  3. I think there is a great deal too much emphasis on having some perfect ideal job. I have never had a job that I thought was my dream job when I took it. But I have loved a great many of those jobs.

    As you say – it’s more about the context of the job. People you work with, whether you feel engaged enough to care about the job, whether you feel valued.

    But our society seems to emphasize finding a career doing what you love. I think that is terrible advice that paralyzes a lot of people. They don’t really know what they love. Or what they love isn’t a viable income source.

    Take a handy job. Hopefully one that has great benefits. And then pay attention to what you hate and what you love about the job. Then look for those things in the next job and so on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great advice. I changed careers in midlife to something I loved only to find out that I’d have to eat ramen noodles for the rest of my life. Also, doing something day in and day out isn’t always as creative as you would think. I went back to my corporate career (although I know that’s not the right decision for some) and I was happier. (and yes, I could eat real food.) I admire people who can make that work for them but I couldn’t.

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  4. My favorite job is retirement. I was never good with staying within the lines which was required with corporate life where I worked all my life… albeit in many, many different jobs and careers. I do have friends who are happy in their little cubicles but that was never me! Ah, freedom!

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  5. I worked part time retail… small gift shops that sold Hallmark. I worked that job all my married life until 2001. I didn’t have a fancy career. My Mom was probably saying some not so nice words from the grave about me wasting my college education. I loved what I did and I am thankful I was able to just work part time so that I could ride horses. I worked in boarding barns, too.

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  6. My very first jobs were summertime field work. (That was in the day when child labor was just kids having something to do in the summer.) Besides the sore backs and sunburns, it was fun working with friends, throwing rotten berries at them and flirting with the slightly older boys.

    My first indoor job was at the local JC Penneys. (This was when small towns had their own JC Penney store.) The boss, Mr. Smith, was exceedingly kind to everyone, setting us up for being warm and well mannered to each other and to the customers. On the negative side, I was too easily bored, and trying to sell something to someone felt coercive to me. (I’m no salesman.)

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  7. I have been lucky to have had several jobs where I was so happy to work there that I couldn’t believe they paid me to have such a great time. I’ve had a few stinkers too. My last job was one of the good ones so it was hard to make the decision to retire. Fortunately, it turns out that retirement is the best job of all… of course now they really aren’t paying me to have such a great time.

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    • Sounds like my experience. I really only remember one bad one and a few that were boring. I worked back in the day when there was a lot of paper shuffling and filing and really mundane work. I had a few where I said to my boss, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this! I’d do it for free.” Fortunately they never took me seriously. I love everything about retirement but the stingy paycheck.

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  8. It’s not only being in a field/area that you enjoy, but also as you say, the boss and the rest of the working crew.
    If you dread going to work every single day, then best look around and find something – anything – else to do – even for less pay. Life is too short to be miserable. Some people can’t gut it up and walk, but I’ve always found it better to do so in the long run. Need to find the right fit to be happy
    (Our Starbucks often have older /retired workers who are so happy and relaxed to be out of the rat race – one says it’s like a party to her every day)

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    • I’ve always been surprised that there aren’t any retired folks at my SB. I do my run in the morning. Maybe later in the day. There are three older women (30s and 40s) who work the morning shift but everyone else is young. Your comments on jobs is straight on. Love it or move on.

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  9. I agree that management has a lot do to with how happy you are in your job. It also helps to be in a field you love rather than just a job to have a job. I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to work for myself the last 16 years. I’m a great boss 🙂

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  10. Great post, Kate, with much food for thought!

    Years ago I read Stephen Lundin’s book, ‘Fish!’ It made a lasting impression on me, and delves into the core questions of this your post. By using a popular fish market, at Pike Place in Seattle, Lundin imparts the following messages:

    1: There is always a choice about the way you do your work, even if there is no choice about the work itself. We can choose the attitude we bring to our work.
    2. Play! You can be serious about your work without taking yourself too seriously.
    3. Make someone’s day. Create great memories.
    4. Be present. Focus on the customer in front of you and be tuned in to opportunities to be there for people. Be alert, and pay attention.
    It’s a great little book and a very quick read. Although centered on attitudes at work, I also find that these messages are easily adapted to our attitudes/behaviours that we choose in retirement.

    BTW – Sounds like I would LOVE your local Starbucks…and I definitely believe that you deserve that free latte!

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    • I remember Fish! We bought books for all the managers at my last company. Some of the departments really went into it especially with “make someone’s day” and “choose your attitude.” I had forgotten this. (Perhaps this was the foundation for the award!)

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  11. I think every job has some kind of deadline or demand attached to it. However, when the people who hire you leave you to do your job without looking over your shoulder every second—that’s why they hired you in the first place (because you’re good at what you do)—it fosters friendships and camaraderie among you and your fellow employees. That translates well with a customer. Always good for business… not to mention less turnover.

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  12. I love my job because I’m not micro-managed. I’m an adult who’s being paid to do a job and I’m going to get the work down because I have a strong work ethic. Sadly, that appears to be going by the wayside. The number of people who have their faces buried in their personal phones instead of their work, is sickening.

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  13. Great post, Kate, and so timely for me. I’ve filled-in twice now at three law firms which will ultimately become my permanent part-time clients after we move. It has been years since I’ve spent any time in a law firm (wife #1 worked in one when we met), and I had completely forgotten the overall milieu. There’s an over-arching sadness that pervades each one — very dark. Not all, of course, but so many unhappy people! Day in, day out that could really affect one’s mood. So happy I’m only in each one an hour or two every visit!

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  14. I think that it is fair to say that the “culture” starts at the top and works down however, as a totally contrasting view of workplace happiness:

    A few years before I retired, I was chatting with one of our Transit (bus) drivers and learned that he had a number of University degrees! I asked what (to me) was the obvious question. “Why on earth are you driving a bus around all day?” His answer was that the money was good, and the work not particularly demanding so he could go home relatively refreshed. Those two factors allowed him to do what he really loved… volunteering in a high stress environment.

    So often we see our job in the context of personal satisfaction, growth etc., when it could simply be a means to an end. Our mundane job may just be what we need to find fulfillment elsewhere!

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    • I agree completely that it is top down. I work for a small company run by a wonderful woman. She started the company 28 years ago. Out of 15 staff members, there are two staff members who have been here 25 of those 28 years, Another has been here 19 years. Three of us (including me) have been here 14 years. It’s because of our boss, and because of our work. But mostly, it’s because of the boss. She finds good people and figures out how to let them work to their strengths.

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  15. “IT” is a combination of things . . . but I expect “IT” requires that employees are employed to do something that they enjoy doing (at some level anyway). And how they view what they are doing ~ e.g., a janitor who doesn’t just “clean bathrooms” . . . he provides “clean bathrooms” to customers.

    Also required ~> NOT having a “control freak” supervising them, pointing out everything that they are doing wrong.

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    • I think you are right. With the baristas, most of them are studying for different careers. Although they may view this as a temporary stop along the way, they are still cheerful about it. Who the supervisor is plays a big part.

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  16. I’d suggest that the reason that anyone likes their job at any particular moment is that there’s a feeling of trust among all who work there. I think what you do is only a small part of liking your job. In the end you like the work because you are appreciated, respected– and have a bit of fun along the way.

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    • Yes. I remember one job where there was one (only one) cantankerous employee in the work group. She could put a downer on any day. We all did a happy dance when she left. She wasn’t dumb and socially she was fun but in the job she was very unhappy (even though her workmates were delightful!).

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