Do What You Love, Love What You Do

By Jessica Stahl, PhD, Program Director, MA in Counseling Psychology October 05, 2015

Counseling Faculty

"Choose a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life." ~Confucius

As the quote from Confucius implies, finding an occupation that one loves has been linked to occupational satisfaction. But how does one find such an occupation? Doing what you love is obviously important, but career counselors often talk about occupational "fit" as being the combination of many factors, of which interest is just one.

Tips for Finding an Occupation You Will Love

  • Identify your Interests - Interests are commonly thought of as the primary guiding factor of career selection. Occupational interests are often broken down into 6 categories: Realistic (machines, computers, athletics, outdoors), Investigative (math, science, medicine, research), Artistic (self-expression, communication, art appreciation, culture), Social (people, teamwork, helping, community service), Enterprising (business, politics, leadership), and Conventional (organization, data management, accounting, information systems).
  • Evaluate Your Skills - It is important to feel competent and successful in one's work. But our skills and interests often do not match 100%. Thus, picking an occupation that matches one's skill set is also important.
  • Appreciate Your Values - Our values represent what is most important to us and guide much of what we do in life, including career choices. Among the values that can impact occupational choice and satisfaction are: competitiveness, work as moral fulfillment, needing recognition or prestige, helping society, flexibility or work-life balance, and the attainment of profit or wealth.
  • Know Your Personality - One's personality influences vocational choice and satisfaction. Perhaps the most obvious personality trait that can impact occupational choice and satisfaction is introversion/extroversion. Introverts (who generally prefer not to be the center of attention) may not enjoy occupations that involve a lot of socializing and public speaking; on the other hand, extroverts (who thrive on interpersonal interaction) would probably not be happy in jobs that are socially isolating. Many other personality traits can also play a role. Among these are courage, openness to experience, conscientiousness, spontaneity, flexibility, etc.
  • Take Into Account Your Social Roles and Cultural Context. Above and beyond the four factors listed above, career choices are impacted by one's socio-cultural context and variables like race, gender, social class, ability status, sexual orientation, etc., and the other roles one plays in life (e.g., student, parent, child, citizen, person of leisure, etc.).

In sum, when considering an occupation, it is important not only to ask oneself "Will I love it?" but also to ask: "To what extent do I have (or can I develop) the skills required to be successful in this career?" "To what extent does it fit my values and personality?" "How is this choice impacted by my sociocultural context and other life roles?"

For more, go to: www.onetonline.org.