A Love Hate Relationship: Do you love your work or do you love your job?

By Robert Half on 25 June 2018

As the popular saying goes, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Sounds like a dream come true, but many workers find themselves in a dilemma even if they were certain that they were signing up for their dream job. Why? Because sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether you’re in love with the job, or in love with the work.

While your job has to do with things like office culture, your relationships with co-workers, company policies and such, work in this context refers to the specific activity or task that you’re hired to do. This also includes the level of interest and passion you have in your chosen field.

For example, you may love what you do for a living, but if the thought of working with your colleagues makes you frown, maybe the job isn’t quite right for you.

Let’s look at some possible scenarios to see where you stand.

Case Study A: Love the work, no love for the job.

You’re producing results and meeting your professional goals, yet find yourself retreating to your cubicle with takeout food rather than sitting through another awkward lunch with the team. You don’t have discussions with your team; you argue. But at the same time, you feel deeply satisfied with the work itself, despite the petty politics and stifling office culture you have to deal with every day.

You seem to love your work, just not your job. Maybe it’s your colleagues. Maybe it’s your boss. Maybe it’s just you, and you can figure out how to love your job and assimilate into the pack, or find a better fit elsewhere.

Case Study B: Love the job, no love for the work.

Your supervisors are encouraging and supportive. You look forward to hanging out with your team, and enjoy collaborating with them on projects. But when you get down to business, things fall flat. Try as you might, you can’t quite feign as much enthusiasm when you talk about what you do.

If this is you, you probably love your job, just not your work. Perhaps this isn’t your forte, and your interests lie elsewhere. If you can’t see yourself working in the same field for the next 5 to 10 years, then maybe it’s time to reassess your career options.

Case Study C: Hate the job, hate the work.

Your feelings about your job range from “I can do this with my eyes closed, usually because I fall asleep from boredom” to “How much blood, sweat and tears have been wasted on this awful task?” You feel like crying on the commute to work, and spend every other second glancing at the clock waiting for it to end. You can’t stand your colleagues, and the feeling’s mutual. Communication with your boss often involves sighs of exasperation and resignation.

If you feel like this, there’s no love involved. Sometimes a fresh start is all you need. Make the most of your time here to learn whatever you can, cut your losses and move on. In short, evaluate, assess, and take appropriate action to rectify the situation.

Case Study D: Love the job, love the work.

You feel fulfilled in the work that you do, and are surrounded by empowering, helpful people. Things aren’t always perfect, but conflicts are easily ironed out and your office is a second home, with your colleagues being comrades, even family.

Congratulations! You’re living the dream. You don’t need any tips on how to love your job or your work – you already do. Count your blessings, and give as good as you get.

Wherever you stand, there are always improvements to be made, both in the company and yourself. Even in a key leadership position, it takes time to make positive changes in a company with a negative environment. Being able to tell specifically what you’re passionate about can help you make better career decisions.

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