How To Quickly And Easily Discover The Joy Of Work

Is it possible to discover the joy of work? Those who routinely experience the joy of work have transformed their lives into a celebration of talent. They have discovered a secret hiding in plain sight.

joy of work

How do you create the best version of yourself?

Yes, there are many ways to go about it, but take a moment to think about what you spend most of your time doing.

You spend most of your time working.

If, like most people, you spend your time working at a job you dislike, you’re disengaged. According to a Gallup Poll only 32% of US Employees feel engaged.  The statistics are even more dismal for the rest of the world, 13%.

What this means is that you’re living on the margins. Life exists in the evenings, weekends, or free time.

Talking about discovering the joy of work in this context is a losing proposition.

But the solution to this personal crisis is not to stop working altogether. Retirees, welfare recipients, and trust fund kids are usually bored to tears. Their life consists of shallow pursuits to kill the long hours of the day.

Finding a Better Way

The solution to a better life is not to shun work, but to befriend it. The solution is to find work that you love to do.

The reason the rich don’t retire is not because they lust after more money. It’s because working is the most satisfying thing they know how to do.

Still, it’s not enough to just follow your passion. You have to go beyond that simple idea. You have to become so good at doing your work, that you would continue doing it even if money became obsolete tomorrow.

Only when your work aligns with your sense of values, do you feel alive, ignited by the promises of a rational life. Work, the right work, rewarding work that lets you express your talent, creates structure and meaning.

Doing your work well offers real benefits. It improves the world, and it helps you prosper and build out your life.

Don’t Forecast: Reality Is Unpredictable

Despite a plethora of advice on finding the best work, it’s almost impossible to design a perfect career. You will overthink it, spending long hours creating a perfect script of how you want things to be. While this is better than drifting through the world of work, it’s also unrealistic.

Although it’s possible to project an ideal future, life often has too many surprises for your reckonings to be close to the mark.

It might just be better to forget about finding your passion and scripting your ideal life. Instead, focus on getting good at work that interests you.

Forget about trying to defining all the details of your ideal career. Your time is better spent refining what you already do well.

Self-Determination Theory Explains the Basics

Psychologists have been chiseling at Self-Determination theory for about four decades now. They have come to the conclusion that only three factors stimulate intrinsic motivation in the workplace:

  1. The need for autonomy: Believing that you can control the events of your day and that your actions are significant.
  2. The need for competence: Feeling that you are good at what you do.
  3. The need to relate to other people at work: Experiencing a sense of connection.

It is possible to fulfill all these three basic needs when it comes to work by becoming excellent at what you do.

The Ennobling Quest for Mastery

If you are among the top percentile in your field, you will reap most of the rewards of your career. You will also leave behind those in your field who do not feel engaged. In fact, you will leave them far behind.

As you refine your knowledge and skills in a quest for mastery, you will prosper in every way imaginable.

When seeking your best work, it’s tempting to focus on following your passion. While this is a good idea if you’re lucky enough to know what it happens to be, it’s not enough.

If you focus on passion alone, you’re relying on your moods to determine outcomes. Since all work has dull stretches, you won’t always feel satisfied. So, you’re heading for trouble, if you rely on your feelings to determine how long you will stay in a field.

It’s better to focus on craftsmanship.

Craftsmanship converts whatever you’re doing into something meaningful. Even setbacks spur you on. Defeat only makes you stronger.

In truth, the more we learn about something, the better we get at doing it. And when we excel at something, we feel passionate about it.

So it’s enough to pick something that you find interesting enough to want to learn more about it. As you get more involved with it, your interest will deepen. And, as you become more engaged, your fascination will turn into passion.

A quest for mastery turns anything you turn your attention toward into a passion.

It’s about the 10,000 Hour Rule

The way to get good at something is by practicing it over and over again. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell outlines Dr. Anders Ericsson’s research on expertise that suggests the magic number 10,000 hours. This means that it can take as long as 10 years to be among the best in your field.

Many critics dispute this claim. They argue that you can get fluent in any skill in a year or two if you focus long and hard enough. But there’s a huge difference between being better than everyone around you and being world-class.

Although it’s tempting to seek out shortcuts, it’s to become enamored by hacks. While hacking your work to success may provide some benefits on less important issues, it’s not a good way to refine your life’s calling.

If you aim to discover the joy of work, you have to do more to be more. You have to fall in love with the idea of mastery, and you have to become passionate about making constant and never-ending improvements.

The Power of Deliberate Practice

Practice alone is not enough. You don’t want to hard wire errors by repeating them.

Deliberate practice is conscious practice. Instead of repeating something mechanically, you try to refine your skills with every attempt. You get better by making subtle distinctions.

It Isn’t about Picking the Perfect Profession

While some careers offer more benefits than others, your choice of career is not the defining factor. What matters most is how well you do it.

Your rewards are in direct proportion to your unique, high-value skills. The better you are at something, the fewer the number of people who can do what you do. In the fullness of time, you will be much sought after and handsomely compensated for your unusual talents.

How to Get Really Good at Following Your Bliss

The way you get good at you work is by becoming a student of your craft.

You won’t  be able to make distinctions unless you develop a broader theoretical framework. In other words, you must study your field. You can do this in a formal way by enrolling in a specialized course. Or you can also do this through self-education.

With that in mind, let us look at some tips from Cal Newton on how to become an excellent student.  In 2009, Newton earned his Ph.D. from MIT. Today, he is an assistant professor of computer science at Georgetown University.

In his book, How to Become a Straight A Student, Newton outlines the winning strategies of Phi Beta Kappa students he interviewed.

1. Pseudo-Work vs. Real Work.

Newton makes a distinction between pseudo-work versus real work.

He defines pseudo-work as spending long hours studying with a minimal amount of intensity. Meanwhile, he defines real work as spending a few hours working with fierce intensity.

For instance, working 10 hours at an intensity of three on a scale of 1 to 10 is pseudo-work. But working only three hours as an intensity of 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 is real work.

The way to achieve real work is by

  • Eliminating procrastination
  • Starting work early when you are fresh, rather than late in the evening when you’re tired.
  • Working alone and in isolation, rather than in a busy environment.
  • Working for no more than an hour at a time, and then taking a five to ten minute break.

2. Active Learning vs. Passive Learning.

Newton is also an advocate of active learning.

After you have learned something, make a list of questions and then try to answer them.

It’s not enough just to read material, you have to rehearse it. Without rehearsal you have weak comprehension. You will also have difficulty recalling the information.

He warns about the fluency illusion. This is the belief that you understand something after you have read it. Over time, you forget the main points and cannot recall well.

3. Distributed Learning vs. Marathon Sessions

He’s also an advocate of distributed learning.  What this means is that you space out your learning over days, weeks and months. Instead of trying to absorb all the material in a few marathon sessions, he spread out the learning.

Grasping “The Joy of Work”

Have you noticed that those who work long and hard usually tend to prosper. Meanwhile, those who brag about taking it easy struggle to earn enough. It’s not as mysterious as it seems. It’s just the law of sowing and reaping.

Still, it’s difficult to work long and hard if you’re not doing work that suits your temperament. It’s difficult to work smart if you don’t care enough to study your field. And it’s difficult to add value to the world when you feel your work is unimportant.

Since you spend most of your life at work, why not leverage work to build out your life? This is the strategy that successful people use.

The way to experience a flow state and discover the joy of work is to become excellent at what you do.

The better you can do your work, the more value you will contribute.  Your career will unfold in the best possible way. Wealth, health, success, and all the abundance of a well-lived life will follow you like your shadow.

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