You’ve heard the cliche that life is too short. You don’t know what tomorrow brings or where you’ll end up. So why waste your time in a career that doesn’t make you happy?
Studies have shown that happy people tend to earn higher salaries, and it stands to reason that these high earners are content – at least in part – because they have jobs they love.
Reasons to do what you love
Enjoying your career should be a priority over earning a high salary or flashy title, but that may not have been the case when you first considered what you wanted to do for a career. Here are four reasons to quit the job you’re unhappy with, along with four questions that can help you determine your next steps to finding a career you love.
1. You’ll feel more fulfilled.
Your job shouldn’t just be a source of income. If you don’t enjoy what you do, you’ll end up missing out on your life.
“As the lines between working life and personal life blur, a job is as much about personal fulfillment and growth as it is about a paycheck,” said Philip Ryan, partner at Ipsos Strategy3. “People don’t want to make widgets; they want to change lives, including their own.”
Your career should make you feel good emotionally, both in and out of the office.
“A job that you love … gives you extra motivation to meet your goals, and when you do, the sense of accomplishment is outstanding,” said Masanari Arai, co-founder and CEO of Kii Corporation.
You will carry and radiate that success wherever you go, helping yourself in other aspects of your life.
2. You’ll be more productive.
It’s important to feel motivated and inspired in your career. Without the drive to excel, your performance will lack passion and, in turn, your work may suffer. Productivity allows you to become more efficient, which makes room for downtime and encourages work-life balance.
“If you are passionate about your job, you are likely to take an active interest in learning every aspect of the business,” said Patrice Rice, CEO and founder of Patrice & Associates. “This not only sets you on the path toward success, it also helps you get through the daily grind.”
3. You’ll inspire others.
Many people are too afraid to follow their dreams and do what they love. Think about what you would say to a friend or your loved one. Would you discourage them from doing what makes them happy simply because it’s risky? When you do take that leap yourself, you become an inspiration to others.
“As a mom who works, it is so important to me to be a role model for my young daughters,” said Keli Coughlin, executive director of The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund. “While there might be busy weeks that require more time at the office, my girls know that I love my job, that it’s meaningful to me, and that I am proud of the work. It is my hope that, as my girls grow up, they are inspired to find a career that fulfills them and they are passionate about.”
4. You’ll succeed.
Michael Phillips, founder and CEO of Coconut’s Fish Cafe, said that when you enjoy your job, it doesn’t feel like work. “It makes it easier to get through the trials and tribulations of business ownership,” he added.
You won’t need someone to keep tabs on your work or motivate you to reach your full potential. You will do your best work because it’s natural and exciting.
“When you love what you do, you are compelled to push against yourself,” said Amir Zonozi, president and co-founder of Zoomph. “You want to be where you are challenging yourself, and you are competing with yourself in achieving your vision.”
The main reason to do what you love is your happiness. Finding that place doesn’t only provide contentment, but makes you more motivated and better equipped to do the best job possible. You won’t just be happier – you’ll be more productive.
4 questions to ask yourself to determine your next step
It’s one thing to know that you don’t love what you’re currently doing; it’s quite different to decide what you want to do next. To help you navigate your career path, consider exploring these methods to find a job you love.
1. What did you want to be as a child?
While it might seem strange to go back to your childhood dreams, they might not be far off from what you would be happy doing. Sure, not everyone can be an astronaut, but whatever that original goal might have been, the desire to pursue that career likely came from somewhere.
Think back to that dream job. Even if you no longer want it, the past goal could help you figure out what drives you. For example, those who wanted to work in law enforcement might be driven by justice or helping people. If you wanted to be a teacher, maybe you liked school or working with children. Tailor your motivators and your strengths to find that perfect position.
2. What would your friends or family say are your strengths?
Sometimes, talking to the people closest to you can help you make more informed decisions, as they see parts of you that you may overlook. Ask your loved ones what they think are your strengths, and consider what job would allow you to use those skills. You gain a different perspective when you ask others’ opinions. What you consider your strengths may differ from your family and friends’ perceptions.
3. Who was your biggest role model growing up?
Similar to talking about your dream job as a child, you might think about who you idolized while growing up. Did you love this person because they helped people? Did they have special skills that you desired? Did you find similarities between their and your abilities? By thinking about why you looked up to this person, you might find a job that would suit you. Even if you did not consider it as a child, meditating on it now might help uncover your true goals and desires. [Related: How to Be a Good Leader]
4. What do you truly dislike doing?
It’s just as important to know your weaknesses as it is to recognize your strengths. Understanding what you dread doing can help shape your career path. If you don’t take this into account, you may find yourself back at square one and looking for another new career down the road. For example, if you hate working with long tables of data in spreadsheets, a career dealing with extensive amounts of data may not be the right move for you.
Determining what you want to do next involves a bit of soul searching. Consider your strengths and weaknesses while deciding your next move, and even try venturing back to your roots to find the next course of action.
Nicole Fallon contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.