Shane Lopez, a senior scientist for Gallup, analyzed a group of 8,000 American workers who answered questions about their work lives. Writing in the New York Times, he identified a few common traits of people who love their jobs:
- Use their strengths every day, as do their co-workers.
- Feel that they are an important part of their organization’s future.
- Are surrounded by colleagues who care about their overall well-being.
- Are excited about the future because of a leader’s enthusiasm and vision.
The catch, in Lopez’s interpretation, is that there’s no way to find a job like this in the classifieds, or by networking. “That’s because the jobs people love are made, not found,” he writes.:
By studying people who love their work, I came to realize that almost none initially landed the jobs they loved; rather, they landed ordinary jobs and turned them into extraordinary ones.
This sounds like a simple, appealing concept. But, uh, how exactly does that work? A professor of organizational behavior at Yale tells Lopez that the key is something she calls “job crafting.” That entails tweaking your responsibilities in order “to do fewer, more, or different tasks than prescribed in the formal job.” Other ways to turn your job into your dream job include “boss-shopping” — looking not just for tasks you enjoy doing, but a supportive manager to oversee you doing it.