“Choose a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
This famous phrase, sometimes attributed to Confucius, and other times to Mark Twain, is one of my favorite quotes. The message is powerful and timeless.
Some people mistake it to mean that we literally need to love every aspect of our job. But that’s not the point and is probably impossible to achieve.
Still, if you choose to find value and meaning in your job, and approach each day with a positive mindset, you’re more likely to feel good about what you do.
In fact, if you’re able to find a job or a career that’s in sync with your natural abilities, personal strengths and unique passions, your performance, satisfaction, health, relationships and well-being are all likely to be positively impacted.
There are a host of reasons this quote resonates with me. First, I was raised by two devoted schoolteachers who both grew up in farm families. My parents were born during the Depression and felt privileged to have attended college (and to have a career other than farming).
They embraced their jobs as educators and were highly involved in our community. I never heard them complain about grading papers on weeknights, running the time clock at junior high basketball games on weekends, or putting up new bulletin boards during summer breaks. They loved the schools they taught in and their fellow teachers, but most of all, my parents loved their students and felt great responsibility in helping them to learn and grow.
I also often cite this quote when coaching professionals looking to make a career shift or with young people seeking their first “real” job. My preliminary questions delve into to abilities, strengths and passions.
Sometimes these conversations flow easily and allow me to quickly make recommendations. Other times, my mentee struggles to answer my questions because they may never have considered the importance of these vital factors before applying for jobs.
When this is the case, I assign some homework including a combination of self-reflection, assessments (e.g., Gallup’s CliftonStrengths® or DiSC®), and research on various job boards and job postings which pique their interest. I challenge them to come back with potential jobs that are in harmony with their talents, interests and personal values.
Recently, my beloved quote came to mind when WXRT DJ Lin Brehmer, everyone’s “best friend in the world,” passed away. Brehmer was a living example of finding a job that fuels your passion and brings out the very best in you and others. While I never met Brehmer, I’m among the legions of music lovers whose lives he touched, not because he did his job well, but because of how he did it.
Brehmer spread knowledge, kindness and laughter through both his “day job” and his charity work. His talent as a writer and radio personality were indisputable, but his humanity was what set him apart.
Upon reflection, maybe this is my favorite quote because I find it aspirational and use it as my own true north. Like my parents and Lin Brehmer, I am grateful to have a job I love. My hope is that I can inspire others to find one too.
• Mary Lynn Fayoumi is President & CEO of HR Source.