An average person spends 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime.
That’s 1/3rd of your life, which doesn’t even include working extra hours or thinking about work.
It’s a no-brainer to find a job you love.
But there’s a problem …
Finding a job you love is hard. Even when you find such a job, the love may go away if you don’t know how to keep loving your job.
Then there are those people who absolutely hate their jobs, but they can’t leave it because of all the responsibilities they have over their shoulders.
I remember when I was doing a part-time job making phone calls.
As a natural introvert, every phone call was torture for me.
To make matters worse, it was right after I had stayed in a studio from 9 to 5.
Sometimes, I would feel like a zombie.
There was nothing fun about my job. But I had to do it anyway.
So I had to do something about the situation. I couldn’t keep living that way.
Then I thought to myself …
If I can learn to love this job, I can learn to love any job.
So I learned how to LOVE a job before quitting it.
And here’s how you can do the same …
How to love your job
Maybe you hate your job.
Maybe you like some parts and dislike other parts of your job.
Or maybe you’re indifferent about your job.
No matter what your case is, today you’ll learn how to love your job by turning it into play, because play is the essence of life.
So how do you turn your job into play?
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, you need to experience flow in your everyday life.
You experience flow when you do something and lose track of your time because you’re fully immersed in an activity.
To find flow, you need to match the challenge of your job with your current skills.
When I was making phone calls after phone calls, I was too anxious because I wasn’t good at it.
Some days, I had to enter data instead of making phone calls, which was too boring for me because there was no challenge.
So I combined the models of Dan Pink, Edward Deci and Richard Ryan with Yu-Kai’s Octalysis framework to turn my job into play.
Here are the 7 ways to love your job again:
1. Chase Mastery And Accomplishment
No matter what you do, always begin with mastery in mind. Every job involves a skill. Your aim is to get better at it no matter where you start.
You can track your growth using specific measures to feel the progress and accomplishment.
For example, while I was making phone calls, I tracked how I was getting better at taking surveys over the phone. Building trust, building a rapport, speaking clearly, listening, persuading, asking difficult questions were some of the skills I was getting better at. So after each call, I could rate myself on these skills to track my progress.
Keep in mind to challenge yourself according to your level of skills. For example, at first, I worked on easier skills such as speaking clearly. As I got more comfortable making the calls, I started working on asking difficult questions.
Now you may be thinking…
What about the boring jobs that require zero skills?
Data entry almost requires no skills if you know how to use a computer well. For me, the task wasn’t challenging at all. But, there’s always a way to bring mastery in your work.
So I gave myself the challenge to improve typing. You could achieve mastery in terms of speed or accuracy of typing. Or you could learn to type the right way (placing fingers correctly). Once you’ve mastered that too, you could use the next trick which is to…
2. Give Yourself Autonomy Or Constraints
If your job has a pre-determined set of directions or restrictions, you can give yourself the freedom to do things your own way.
Let’s go back to the example we’ve been talking about.
When I was making phone calls, there were an order of questions and a script I had to follow each time I’d make a call. Repeating the same script was boring as hell. So I switched it up. I started testing out different opening lines and instead of asking the questions in the same freaking order, I’d flow with the conversation and ask the one most appropriate at the moment. Then I’d check off the questions to make sure I cover everything.
Another trick is to give yourself imaginary constraints to get out of a rut, find new challenges, and spark creativity.
3. Find Purpose And Meaning
There’s a famous story about the two bricklayers.
When asked about their work, one complained about how miserable his job was. The other one responded differently…
“I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” he said. “I get to be a part of important, useful and beautiful pieces of architecture. I turn simple pieces of brick into exquisite masterpieces.”
They were both right. The difference was in their perspective and mindset.
You can find meaning in anything. You don’t have to be the big cog in the machine because every cog matters. Even when one tiny cog is missing, the machine won’t work.
Be grateful for the contribution you get to make. If you look for it, you will find meaning and purpose in your work. When I wasn’t motivated to make the calls or fill in data, I would wear my superhero cape and imagine how I was bringing value to my employer and the people they were serving. And suddenly, it wasn’t about me anymore. It was about the greater purpose that brought fulfillment in my work.
4. Bring Predictability Or Unpredictability To Your Work
Depending on your preference and experience, bring a structure or novelty to your work.
If you often feel chaotic or anxious while working, bringing structure or predictability will allow you to enter the flow state. But if your work has become monotonous, bringing variety or unpredictability can bring fun to your job.
Going back to my example, I would listen to different music while doing the data entry work. Or maybe I would play a guessing game in which I’d try to predict the data as I entered it.
On the other hand, if you want to bring order to chaotic work, you can pre-plan your actions and set boundaries to feel more certain and less stressed. Because it’s better to plan and act at separate times for more challenging tasks.
5. Reward Yourself To Feel Empowered And In-Control
We all want fruitful rewards for the hard work we put it. Your employer may give you a raise or recognition, but you shouldn’t rely on them to feel rewarded.
Instead, why not make your own rules and reward yourself?
The rewards can be small or big. Use small rewards for celebrating small wins. For example, I would set rules for myself like “After making 5 more calls, I would take a snack break.”
For bigger rewards, you can either set a point system or set milestones to reward yourself.
Two of the best rewards you can give yourself are empowerment and ownership of something (or remove something from your life if you like minimalism).
The rewards could include upgrading your tools, getting a book or a course, treating yourself with a self-care practice, watching a movie or a show, experiencing something new, playing a game, and so on.
With such practice, you can make sure not to overindulge in anything (including work) and remember to celebrate the small things in life.
6. Form Social Bondings And Find Relatedness
If you work a job that requires you to work in isolation, then you can significantly boost fulfillment from your work by finding other people doing similar things.
I am a solo entrepreneur. So I find people to connect who are doing similar things as me.
Whether you’re a programmer, designer, writer, artist; you can connect with people who can give you feedback, inspire you or whom you can give guidance. Or you can also connect with people who do different work from you to gain different perspectives.
Besides, you can always crack jokes and talk with your coworkers about anything you want.
7. Use The Power Of Scarcity
Accept it or not, we operate at peak with scarcity. It’s in our nature.
When you put yourself on a deadline, suddenly, the impossible tasks become doable. You become laser-focused and you also love to experience such a boost in productivity.
One of the simplest ways to experience such a rush is to set goals and use a timer (or Pomodoro technique).
The reason it works is the Parkinson’s law, which states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
You can also use this information to work smarter and not spend hours on tasks you don’t enjoy as much.
You spend so many hours of your life working. You owe it to yourself to play at work.
Until you find a job you love, you don’t have to hate your current job.
Even if you plan on doing the same job for the rest of your life, now you know how to turn any job into play.
How can your job become predictable or unpredictable?
How can you use scarcity to your advantage?
How can you chase mastery at your job?
How can you bond with others?
How can you reward yourself?
How can you bring autonomy?
How can you find meaning?
Because remember … if you can learn to love a miserable job, you can love any job (and your life).
Prakhar is the creator of Design Epic Life. His mission is to help ambitious people design their epic lives so more people can truly live before they die. Sign up to the DesignEpicLife newsletter to stay up to date!
This article first appeared on Design Epic Life.