Can You Really “Love Your Job?” New York Times Columnist Kerry Hannon Thinks So
Financial journalist Kerry Hannon’s new book, “Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness,” is centered around the phrase, “Life’s too short to be unhappy.” The Pittsburgh native writes about satisfying solutions and precise techniques to enhance your job — things that will lead to bigger and better things, regardless of age or career stage. We asked The New York Times columnist three pertinent questions on becoming your best self. — Andrea Bosco
Christine Tumpson: How do you make “work” something that makes you feel like you are contributing to society in a meaningful way?
Kerry Hannon: For many people, at the heart of loving work is purpose. People want to do something they’re proud of. They want to create something. They want to feel like they’re helping other people and contributing to the community. One great way to make your work meaningful is to volunteer. Helping out at a nonprofit gets you out of your own head and that swamp of negativity, and lets you gain perspective on others’ needs. When the volunteer effort is initiated by your employer, it builds relationships with co-workers (and perhaps your boss), as you work side-by-side to make a difference. Alternatively, if your interests are more physical, join or organize a company team sport — say, softball, kickball, or bowling. These kinds of activities may not change the world, but they do bring a sense of community, human connection, and togetherness.
CT: What does it mean to “Love Your Job”?
KH: When you get right down to it, the reason most people are miserable at work is because they’re bored. They don’t call it that, but that’s the root of it. Finding ways to love your work entails taking ownership of your life. No one is going to wave a magic wand for you. In essence, you need to constantly ask yourself, ‘What can I do to improve myself on the job and to make my work more rewarding?’ not ‘What can my boss do for me?’ I believe you really can learn to love your job. I do. I’m a romantic that way. Love is a complicated thing. It can be fleeting; you have to give it to get it; and, at times, it takes effort to hold on to it. At the heart of it, a job, like romance, is never utterly full of bliss and joy. The key is to find a stable core that you can hold on to through the swings.
CT: What is the best advice you have for someone who is looking to make a positive lifestyle/workstyle change?
KH: So much of loving your work is your attitude. It takes an internal shift, and it’s one you can control. Some of these are big‐picture moves — say, asking for new responsibilities or a promotion, or transferring departments. Start by keeping a gratitude list of things that you like about your job — there are things, trust me. And each day, make note of one or two things that were positive — even if it’s a co-worker’s success. To love what you do each day, you need to be physically, spiritually, and financially fit. Financial fitness is key. Debt is the biggest dream killer. This takes time, but do a budget and start whittling away at credit card debt. When you aren’t working strictly for the paycheck, you’re more nimble to accept a job or a position that’s meaningful to you and not just a means to an end. And developing a spiritual center via a meditation practice, such as yoga or tai chi, can give you a calming place to escape work pressures and hit the reset/renew button. How many times have you felt that you are running so fast that you barely have time to think? How often do you actually allow yourself to pause and listen to what your body, your heart, and your mind are telling you? Start by doing one small thing that matters. Clean up your office — decluttering is liberating and empowering. Look into telecommuting. Laugh more. Find a positive image to inspire you. The very action of directing your attention away from your work opens up the door in your day for a respite, a restart, and a new view. It’s reviving and centering at the same time.