Finding Work You Enjoy
While I’d also be willing to take a pay cut to increase happiness, I’d rather take a pay increase, and/or make my job more enjoyable. In other words, I think there are usually other options.
People often have the idea that the only kinds of jobs that are enjoyable are low-paying, or that you can’t be happy at a high-paying job. I happen to think that it’s entirely possible to be happy at a high-paying job. It’s also often possible to be happy at your current job, even if you hate it now. (Not always of course, but it might be.)
You see, the things that we like and dislike about our jobs may have very little to do with the type of work we’re actually doing. Often, it has more to do with our personalities and the personalities of our coworkers, or with the work environment in general.
For example, if you’re a social person, you’re not going to be happy sitting in a cube at a company where no one ever talks to one another. If you’re not a fan of chitchat, you’re going to love coming in, doing your job, and leaving without being bothered by inane chatter and useless questions. Same job, different personalities, different results. Beyond a certain point, the pay is irrelevant.
If you hate your current job, there are things you can do to find work you enjoy.
First, figure out what it is that you dread about your current job. Is it the people? Maybe you hate being micromanaged. Is it the work itself? Maybe it’s mind-numbing and repetitive. Make a list, and be specific.
Then figure out what it is that you like about your current job. (There’s got to be something, besides getting paid.) Maybe it’s close to your house. Maybe the hours are convenient. Maybe you like the food they serve in the cafeteria. Try to find at least 5 things.
Now, think about jobs you’ve had in the past that you’ve enjoyed. What did you like about them? Think about the things you enjoy in general as well, and add those to your list too. Maybe you like talking to people, helping people, organizing, working with headphones on in your own little world, having time to think, flexibility, a standard schedule, having time to surf the internet, etc.
What do all of the things that you like have in common? What about the things you dislike?
Once you have those nailed down, you can figure out ways to increase the things that you enjoy, and decrease the things that you dislike. Sometimes even small changes can make a big difference. For example, you might be able to adjust your hours, work on a different team, take on extra responsibilities, start a social group, etc.
If it turns out that improvements are not possible at your current job (or if you’d just like to do something new), set up some informational interviews at local companies to see different types of environments and to meet with people at different kinds of jobs. Finally, look for jobs that incorporate the aspects you enjoy, at companies with a culture you’d feel comfortable in. Don’t be afraid to aim high, or to have a big wish list.