10 OCT, 2014

Do’s & Don’ts For Being An Engaged Employee, Even If Your Job Isn’t Your Passion

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We can’t all be professional athletes, musicians, or artists, making a paycheck from our passions. Even if you can, perhaps the lifestyle you’d like to live isn’t compatible with selling one painting every couple of months or struggling to book gigs for your band.

Just because you can’t live your dream every day doesn’t mean you can’t find a job and career that is fulfilling and challenging. And just because your job isn’t necessarily 100% fulfilling doesn’t mean you can’t be engaged in it. Employers, you can further help to create an engaging environment by following some key points (see our Four Employee Engagement Essentials post for more).

So where is the balance between doing something that pays the bills and truly loving what you do if you can’t have both? It’s different for everyone of course, but here are some general rules:

Engaged Employee Do’s

  • DO make sure your job is challenging enough. If you feel like you can do it with your eyes closed after having a lobotomy, then it’s too dull.
  • DO make sure you like MOST of your responsibilities. Everyone dislikes some aspect of their job. Even celebrities hate certain things—dieting, being chased by paparazzi, etc. However, you should be okay with the majority of your duties. If you find that isn’t the case, it’s time for a change.
  • DO be good at it. Not being good at your job will probably lead to dreading it (see first bullet). Everyone has some skill or quality they can capitalize on—spend some time trying to find that rather than trying to persevere at something that you’re clearly not cut out for. It’s always enjoyable to produce quality work by using your skills, even if it’s not all that glamorous.
  • DO make sure the logistics work out. Having a great job that comes with a 2-hour commute each way and doesn’t pay enough to cover your rent may not work for you, no matter how much you enjoy it. Sometimes you have to compromise and take something that is more convenient and that pays the bills.

Engaged Employee Don’ts

  • DON’T dread going to work. If you get that sick feeling of foreboding in your stomach every Sunday night, it’s time to move on.
  • DON’T do anything that’s against your principles. If you’re a vegan, obviously working in a steakhouse isn’t going to make you happy.
  • DON’T stop doing the things you enjoy. Just because you aren’t making a living decorating cakes or writing poetry doesn’t mean you can’t still do those things on your off time. And who knows—maybe you can start a side business.
  • DON’T make work your life. If you’re not working at your passion, why spend your whole life on it? You’re working to fund your ability to support your family, enjoy life, and be happy and healthy. There is no point to that if you’re always AT work.

Stop feeling bad about the fact that your job isn’t glamorous or exciting. Be an engaged employee for the time you are there, work hard, do a great job, and then go home and enjoy your real life!

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