Your job should make you want to draw little hearts in pastel. For real.

Welcome to the third episode of the Engineering and Leadership podcast! This episode digs into why its super important to actually love what you do for work. I talk about the five most important reasons why, and offer some ideas on what to do if you realize you don’t love your job.

It would be great to get your feedback on the show. Please leave a comment at the end of the show notes and a rating on iTunes to let me know what you think, and more importantly, how I can improve the podcast.

I hope you enjoy the show!

Show summary

In the show today, I go through the five top reasons you need to love your job.

The five reasons are:

  1. At least a half of your waking hours spent at work, so it would be good to actually enjoy that time.
  2. It will be very difficult for you to invest in your career if you don’t love your work.
  3. You’ll never be truly great at what you do if you don’t love your work.
  4. People who aren’t into their work don’t get promotions
  5. Most importantly, you won’t feel fulfilled.

If you realize that you’re someone who doesn’t love their work – not to worry! Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Think about what you are actually passionate about. What do you love to talk about? What do people ask you for help with? What would you do for free? What are you doing when you lose track of time?
  2. Research careers that would allow you to put your passion to work. LinkedIn and ONetOnline are great.
  3. Chose a new path based on your research.

If you’d like a little more guidance on how to figure out what you’re passionate about and how to pursue that path, I wrote an eBook that helps engineers do exactly that. It takes you step by step through the whole process, and makes it very easy to find your passion.

If you’re interested in getting a copy, you can go to www.engineeringandleadership.com/passionateengineer.

Links and Resources

Transcript

Introduction

For those who want engineering to be a blast;
This is the Engineering and Leadership Podcast

Welcome to Episode 3 of the Engineering and Leadership Podcast, where engineering, management, and leadership collide to help engineers like you go from good to great.

Head on over to engineeringandleadership.com/getstarted for a free course on becoming an engineering leader.

In today’s episode, you’ll learn why it’s important that you actually love your job.

Today’s episode is brought to you by the letter sigma. Sigma, always there for you when things just aren’t adding up.

Today’s episode is also sponsored by Audiobooks.com. If you love to read but can never find the time, you should try audiobooks. Audiobooks.com has over 60,000 high quality books on topics like management, leadership, and productivity. Go to www.engineeringandleadership.com/audiobook to get a free book today.

That’s www.engineeringandleadership.com/audiobook for a free book.

Welcome

Hello everyone and welcome to Episode 3 of the Engineering and Leadership podcast! I’m your host, Pat Sweet, and it’s fantastic to have to you here with me.

This podcast is all about helping engineers go from good to great. I focus on the business side of engineering and talk about things like management, leadership, and productivity as it pertains to engineers.

So, if that sounds interesting to you, great! You’re in the right place. I’m really glad that you tuned in.

Today I want to talk about something that’s near and dear to my heart – why it’s so important to actually love what you do for work.

With that, let’s get down to business.

Main content

A friend of mine and I went out to one of my favourite pubs a while back to talk about his career. He was considering making a move from his current employer to be able to pursue other interests, but wasn’t sure if he should actually take the plunge.

You see, his job was with a very well-respected company and his position looked incredible on paper. The problem is that he just wasn’t being challenged. He didn’t feel like he was learning or growing. He didn’t feel motivated to get up in the morning to go to work.

In short, he didn’t love what he’s doing, but was afraid of moving on.

I think we can all agree that this is something of a problem. This friend of mine was clearly not in a good spot.

In my experience, loving for your work is a critical piece to success in your career and life, and today I’m going to share the 5 biggest reasons why, and share what I recommended my friend do to help solve his situation.

Reason #1 – At least a half of your waking hours spent at work.

If you’re upset about being at work because you don’t love what you do, you’re on average a sad person. Literally.

That’s no way to live.

Have you ever worked with someone who was always in a bad mood at work? I have. I used to work with an engineer who, for years, complained about the work she was doing. Nothing went right for her. Every new task felt like a personal assault. She would yell at her coworkers. She would swear. It was honestly difficult for people to approach her to ask for her help.

That same engineer was a totally different person outside the office. It was unbelievable the first time I ran into her out in the street. It felt like I was meeting a different person. She was happy. She smiled. She joked around.

Who was this pleasant individual?!

The truth is that she was a different person. People under constant stress are not themselves. Occasional stress is part of any engineer’s career, regardless of whether you’re a technical specialist, a manager, a junior engineer, whatever.

But constant, systematic stress is different. If you’re spending more than half your waking hours stressed out because you don’t like what you do and where you do it, you’re setting yourself up for a world of hurt.

To summarize, you need to love your work, because you spend most of your waking hours at the office, and for that time to be stressful for you is just plain bad.

Reason #2 – It will be very difficult for you to invest in your career.

If you’re not into what you do, what would possess you to seek out extra training, certifications, conferences and the like? It’s hard to imagine spending extra time outside of work investing in something you don’t like.

Did you ever have a course in school you hated? I definitely did. Differential equations comes to mind. Whatever yours was, how did you do in it? Probably not so hot. And that’s probably because it was impossible to motivate yourself to study hard and really get into the material.

Your career is the same way.

If you don’t love what you do, then why would you go out of your way to spend time and money on it. This is a major issue with respect to keeping your skills up and moving forward in your career.

I was once asked by my employer to take the LEED AP certification along with a bunch of other staff. LEED AP stand for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It’s a points system for green buildings.

I had never heard of the exam before being asked to take it, but I was very interested in energy efficiency and renewables at the time, so I got excited about the material right off the bat.

Some of my colleagues on the other hand, we not so keen on the whole thing. I did really well on the exam, but how do you think my less passionate colleagues fared? Right. Not so well.

So circling back, point #2 is that if you don’t love your job, it will be very hard to invest in your career.

Reason #3 – You should love your job is that you’ll never be truly great at what you do.

If you don’t have any passion for your work, and you’re not spending time and energy upgrading your skills, how will you ever improve in your field?

Leadership researcher and author, Tom Rath, wrote a fantastic book that speaks to this. The book is called StrengthsFinder 2.0. The premise is simple. He argues that people focus too much time on trying to develop their weaknesses, and not enough time fortifying their strengths.

He believes that people should figure out what their strengths are and invest in making those strengths even stronger. His research tells him that people will a) be more likely to actually spend time on your strengths, and b) more likely to improve. If you work hard on those things that you already have some natural talent in, you can achieve some amazing things in life.

People love working on what they’re good at and dread dealing with the things they’re weak at.

So, if your job is something you don’t love, or aren’t great at, Rath would argue that you’re not likely to ever get really great at it.

This becomes a kind of “Doom Loop”. You don’t love your work, so you aren’t motivated to get better at it, which in turn means you won’t love your work.

Bad times.

Reason #3 was that you need to love your work if you ever want to become great at what you do.

Reason #4 – You won’t get promotions

This ties into the previous three points. It’s tough to imagine promoting someone who isn’t great at what they do, is always stressed, and doesn’t invest to get better.

Would you promote someone like that? I didn’t think so.

Remember that engineer I was telling you about in the first point? The one who was stressed out all the time? One of the major gripes she had was that she was stuck in her current role and never got the promotions she wanted.

Year in, year out, she fought to get more money and a better title, but it never really happened.

Go figure.

Looking at the other side of the coin, I used to work with a planner who was a recent graduate when we first started working together who became an associate in the company in record time. Quite literally, nobody had ever been promoted that quickly before.

She worked hard, she took every professional development course she could find, she wrote articles for her professional association’s magazine. You think she might have enjoyed her work? You bet she did. She loved what she did.

In both cases, these people were technically sound, but being technically sound isn’t enough. If you want to climb the ladder, then you have to move from being good to being great at what you do. And without passion for your work, it’s going to be very, very hard to do that.

Reason #4 was you won’t get promotions.

Reason #5 – You’ll lack fulfillment

If you spend your time doing something other that what you love to do, you’ll always have that feeling like you’re missing out on something. You’ll spend your days watching the clock, waiting until you can leave the office to do what you really want to be doing.

Again, bad times.

I don’t advocate that people should spend all their time at the office. That being said, I think one of the ways you know you’re on to something in terms of a good career fit is when you’re able to lose track of time while at work. I know some people who have to set alarms so that they remember to eat lunch and leave work at the end of the day. These are people who are truly fulfilled by what they do. They’re happy, they’re productive, and they do great work.

Again, reason #5 you should love your work is that if you don’t, you’ll lack fulfillment.

To recap, the 5 reasons were:

1. At least a half of your waking hours spent at work, so it would be good to actually enjoy that time.
2. It will be very difficult for you to invest in your career.
3. You’ll never be truly great at what you do.
4. You won’t get promotions
5. You won’t feel fulfilled

What to do if you don’t love your work

Now that I’ve gone through the five reasons you should probably love your career, you may well be thinking “Ack. That’s not good. What do I do now?”

If you find yourself in a situation where you really aren’t feeling the love for your job, here’s what I recommend you do.

The first thing to do is to resolve to DO something about it. Take action. Doing something is better than wishing things would just change.

You can earn a living with just about any skill. Luckily for engineers, there are opportunities abound. There’s a huge spectrum of industries and companies that put engineers to work in hundreds of different roles. Not only that, the analytical and mathematical skills that engineers have can be put to work in business, finance, computer science, or any number of other fields.

An education in engineering affords people huge opportunities, even outside of engineering. Be creative. Look up professions you think might be interesting on http://www.onetonline.org/find/. Look people up with those professions on LinkedIn and ask them questions.

Whatever you do, you need to dig until you’re happy. You owe it to yourself to put the effort in.

I’ll leave you with a couple tasks.

First, decide for yourself if you’re passionate about what you do. If you’re not, move to step 2.

Second, think about what you are actually passionate about. What do you love to talk about? What do people ask you for help with? What would you do for free? What are you doing when you lose track of time?

Third, research careers that would allow you to put your passion to work. I’ll list some excellent resources in the show notes for you.

Fourth, chose a new path based on your research.

Need more help?

If you’d like a little more guidance on how to figure out what you’re passionate about and how to pursue that path, I wrote an eBook that helps engineers do exactly that. It takes you step by step through the whole process, and makes it very easy to find your passion.

If you’re interested in getting a copy, you can go to www.engineeringandleadership.com/passionateengineer.

That was the main segment for today. Next up, we dig into the Engineering and Leadership mailbag.

Mailbag

This is the part of the show where I read your mail, comments, tweets and messages and answer your questions. I promise to read everything you send me, and I may even share your note on the podcast here.

If I chose yours as the comment or question of the week, I’ll send you a most excellent E&L coffee mug, which will no doubt be the envy of all your coworkers who are still drinking out of the lame ISO 9001 Certification mugs your company got in 1998.

With that, let’s read through this week’s comments:

From Aditi on a blog post called “Influence and Concern: A tale of two circles”

… There is a verse in Gita (a holy book) that means do the best you can and leave the rest to me. We need to understand and wisely choose as to where we want to spend our energy. Anxiety is not a desirable state to be in.
I feel we need to think wisely, act smartly, take all possible actions to ensure our work is best done and then wait for the results.

I hope this is of some help.

Stay Blessed!

Aditi

Brett Hoffstadt from the fantastically named blog howtobearocketscientist.com left a comment on my post Putting First Things First:

Thanks for the reminders and tips, Pat! Putting first things first needs persistent attention and habit every day. I review and set my goals and priorities every morning. And I get some big rocks done first, which makes a great start to every day. But I will be more diligent to spend a little time at night thinking about these for the next day too, based on your post. Thanks again!

Rebecca from pinktoolsandpearls.com left a note on the Engineer’s guide to running productive meetings:

As a consultant in regulatory and compliance aspects of engineering, the golden rule is about documentation. If it’s not documented, it wasn’t done (or discussed, etc.).

**Agendas are the road map. If it’s not on the agenda, then it needs to get tabled or parked under “new business”.
**If it’s not in the minutes, it wasn’t addressed. Minutes cover your hide.

I second the color coding from Cath. Also consider if your email system allows, setting up a tickler / reminder for the owners of action items regarding due dates, if the due dates occur prior to a followup meeting. (Some people need that kind of detail management assistance.)

Rebecca, for your comment and the helpful hints, I’m unilaterally awarding you the comment of the week! I’ll be in touch soon to sort out getting you your mug.

Up next, the engineering toolbox.

The engineering toolbox

In this part of the show, I’ll share with you some kind of tool or resource that I use that I find super helpful in my own engineering career, and that I think you might also find helpful in your quest to become an engineering leader.

Today’s useful resource is a short eBook I wrote called The Passionate Engineer: How to take control of your career, do what you love, and be successful. I wrote the Passionate Engineer for engineers just like you who want to love their careers and have more control. In it, I cover the exact steps that I used to find both success and happiness in my work. I go into greater depth on why you should love your career, give strategies on finding out what you’re really passionate about, finding a career to match that passion, and offer tips on how to actually follow that path once you’ve chosen it.

I packed a lot in this PDF, but I’m only charging $5 to make it as accessible to people as possible. Now, I’d never recommend skipping your morning latte for a day to buy this, because coffee is super important to me, but maybe you could get by with grandes instead of ventis for a couple days.

Just go to www.engineeringandleadership.com/passionateengineer to get your copy today.

Outroduction

That’s all the time we have for the show today. If you enjoyed the show, it would be awesome if you could leave a review on iTunes for me. If you have any ideas or thoughts on how to make the show better, please let me know that too! Just go to www.engineeringandleadership.com/episode3 to leave a comment.

Don’t forget to head on over to engineeringandleadership.com/getstarted for a course on becoming an engineering leader.

Until next time, take care and we’ll talk again soon.

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