When most of us decide our path for the future we’re still very idealistic and have almost no understanding of what makes a job desirable. Most of the time we end up pursuing something that sounds relatively easy, or that sounds like it might be fun to do, without ever thinking about what actually makes work enjoyable. The biggest mistake that we make is that our judgment about whether a job is appealing is based on one obvious but usually secondary aspect of a job, rather than the greater purpose and effect of a career.
Jobs contain lots of secondary tasks that are essential to ensure good productivity or to provide the necessary transparency that a business needs. That’s why doing something that you like doing in your free time as a job often leads to major disillusionment and disappointment. You might enjoy the primary task, but not enjoy all of the other things you need to do to facilitate that. To explain what that means, here are a few examples…
When we hear software engineer most of us think of a guy hunching in a cubicle typing code all day, trading their soul for a great salary. While it’s true that there is a lot of programming involved and tech salaries are nothing to sneeze at, software engineering is a creative profession as much as a technical one. They spend a lot of time talking to clients and brainstorming about what their programs need to be able to do and how to circumvent any issues. Then they need to build a streamlined, efficient, user-friendly program that provides maximum utility with minimum effort. That means a lot of time is spent designing, organizing, and inventing new ways to provide different functions to meet the demands of a client. A happy software engineer needs to be creative, efficient, systematic, and adaptable. The primary task is constructing a great tool, the programming language part of it is something anyone can learn; it’s just a tool you use to do your job.
Lots of people go into management, but not many do so with a good understanding of what they’re getting themselves into. Future managers often go to school with the impression that being a friendly extrovert that can unify a group will make them an effective manager. Unfortunately befriending your subordinates isn’t how management works. Office managers are responsible for directing their resources to achieve maximum efficiency in the workplace. That means giving the right jobs to the right people, ensuring the competency of their staff, and maximizing employee retention. That means that a good candidate for management can effectively gauge the competence and aptitude of their workforce, efficiently direct them while giving them the right amount of freedom to perform, and help them engage with their work and their work environment. Once again, the extroversion is a nice, but the core of the work is about organization, quality assurance, and resource allocation.
Graphic designers, freelance artists, illustrators, and musicians typically go to pursue their passion for their art. Students typically won’t consider that almost everyone in the creative field will need to be self-employed at some point in their lives, meaning that they’ll need to learn a lot about marketing, finance, sales, and client management. A happy artist is one that takes the trouble of learning how to handle all of these extra bits of the job and turns them into a tool to be used to her advantage. Like the software engineer and the office manager she takes the tedious aspects of the job and uses them to make her job more enjoyable instead of allowing them to drag her down.
Reyna Ramli writes for CareerBliss, which is an online community about finding happiness in the workplace. In her free time Reyna is all about fashion, her Instagram obsession, and her shiny new iPhone. Follow Reyna on Twitter!