Your Career: A Love Story

Is it realistic to believe you can love what you do?

I know that it is. There’s work destined for each of us, the way people say there is a mate for everyone. We just have to find it. 

On the other hand, everything we love eventually gets tested and we must decide whether to reinvent it or us. Like any marriage or long-term relationship, a career or job needs to be shaken up every now and then to keep it fresh, alive, fun, and engaging.

Loving your work will morph over time.  Whether you’re a corporate employee,  business owner, or artist, the following stages seem to apply.

First job: Like new love, the first job is exciting. Most exciting is that there is a paycheck! Your first significant income and everything is new. If it’s not a fit, you’ll find out fast, and it’s possible you’ll outgrow it fast, whether it was a mistake or not.

Readying to Soar: You’ve gotten promoted a couple of times. If you’re progressing as you like, and the work is still a challenge, work can still be your sweetheart.

Climbing: New challenges keep you growing but with more responsibility come more headaches. The questioning may have already begun. Is this it? Can I really do this for the rest of my life? Can I find my way back to the love?

Plateau: You may continue to climb or you may have hit the plateau—can’t leave now, you think. You want your full retirement benefit or you are not financially prepared to leave work. Loving may be replaced by settling into living out the commitment.

Legacy: At any age, you may have begun to think about what it is you want to leave behind. When you pull your head up from the daily grind and imagine creating something bigger than your immediate needs, the game changes. Whether what you are creating is publicly or silently acknowledged, the love grows as the impact spreads. Like a long-term couple looking at each other and realizing how much they’ve done, seen, or created together, your work at the legacy stage gives you a platform of appreciation that you can pay forward.

Post-Career Career: And then, there’s this unique opportunity to love your work: Trying something new or rekindling an old flame of work you love can bring an exciting rush. If money is not the biggest concern, this can be the sweetest of stages as you shed the burden and engage the joy.

When your job becomes a “job,” it’s a call to get back to the love and find what will inspire you to reengage. How will you reconnect? How do you build on the early love and bring it along as you evolve? Can you and your work grow together, at about the same rate, in the same direction? Keeping your work in the “I love my job” sphere means constantly grooming it, so it doesn’t die on the vine. That’s what keeps a long-term relationship alive.

Laura Berman Fortgang is a pioneer in the personal coaching field, with more than 25 years of experience supporting people to find meaning, purpose, and satisfaction in their lives.

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