A Gallup poll from 2013 revealed that 50 percent of working Americans are disengaged with their work, while another 20 percent are actively disengaged. Worse yet, job dissatisfaction is probably killing people. Dan Miller observes that more people die of heart attacks on Monday morning than any other time of the week. Could it be that victims are coming off of an enjoyable weekend, dreading going back to a job they hate?
When you get down to it, a job gives each of us a sense of dignity. Most people find purpose and worth in the work they do. When people can’t work – or they get stuck doing work that’s not a good fit for them – they get depressed or worse.
In December of 2010, Tunisian police confiscated Mohamed Bouazizi’s produce cart and scales because he didn’t have a vending permit. Bouazizi then went to the governor’s office to complain, but no one would see him. He felt desperate and helpless with no way to feed his family, so to protest, he doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire.
Work is important; there’s no way around it. Everyone wants to do significant work. Furthermore, the average person will spend more time with coworkers at work over the course of her life than she will with her family. It’s important, then, that each of us finds the right job.
So where is the best work for you to do? How can you find a job you love as an introvert?
1. A great job uses your core strengths.
To find a job you love, identify your greatest strengths. Meaningful work will always employ them.
All of us have a knack for something. Whether it’s connecting people, communicating, working with your hands, or some other skill, you have an ability that stands out.
Now, it’s also possible that you haven’t nurtured and developed your strength, and so it may still be in its infancy. Nonetheless, you have one. What’s the best way to identify it, then?
A number of strategies for identifying your core strength exist, but I’ll list just three questions to get you started. Give each one careful thought.
Question 1: What comes easily to you that’s difficult for others?
We often overlook our greatest strength because it comes so naturally to us. We assume that everyone can do what we can, so we play it off as “no big deal.” But it is a gift!
Question 2: What do you do with excellence that, after you’ve done it, gives you a sense of accomplishment?
Think back over your life, starting with childhood and moving to adulthood. What were the experiences when you accomplished something you were proud of? Write them down, and look for a pattern.
Question 3: What’s your personality?
Too many people lack self-awareness: They don’t understand what makes them tick. When you know how your wired, you can pinpoint your strengths and what you bring to any team.
One of my favorite personality assessments is the Myers-Briggs. It helped me so much that I became an MBTI certified practitioner. If you’re interested in taking it, send me an email, and I’ll give you the official assessment and a recorded coaching call for just $50.00.
You can also learn your Myers-Briggs personality by taking free tests. This is a good one. Once you’ve determined your personality type, here are some proven ways for you to learn more about your greatest strengths.
2. A great job is one you’re passionate about.
Work you love motivates you. You’d do it, even if no one paid you. It gets you out of bed in the morning and leaves you with feelings of excitement and optimism for the future.
I’ve read about a number of entrepreneurs who, while working a day job, hustled on mornings, evenings, and weekends to create a new job for themselves. Though the work they were doing was work, they were happy to do it. They enjoyed it so much that they did it without getting paid for a long time. Sometimes, to find a job you love, you have to make it yourself!
Whether you work for yourself or not, answering the following question can give you a sense of direction: What would you do, even if no one paid you to do it?
Work you’re passionate about has meaning and purpose too. This purpose usually comes from contributing to…
- A goal bigger than yourself
- Other people
- An end that will endure beyond your lifetime
3. A great job develops over time.
A couple years ago, my mentor introduced me to the concept of convergence introduced by Dr. J. Robert Clinton of Fuller Seminary. Convergence is the phenomena where a person ends up in the right place, at the right time, with the right teammates over time. Almost no one starts out doing work that primarily uses his core strengths. Rather, he has to start by doing an assortment of tasks, many of which are out of his strength zone.
As time goes by, however, he focuses increasingly on the work that he does best and delegates more of what he doesn’t do well to others. The experiences he accumulates along the way aren’t a waste. They prepare him for his ultimate role. Remember that, to find a job you love, it will take time.
Your Sweet Spot: Meeting People’s Needs
Some jobs incorporate people’s greatest strengths and excite them but don’t pay. I’m sure you’re familiar with the term “starving artist”. Why is it that you can’t just get paid to do what you love?
The reason is most starving artists overlook an important factor: They fail to consider how their work can meet other people’s needs. Whether you make goods or perform a service, your work needs to help people. As Frederich Buechner explains, “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet” is your sweet spot. It’s the place where your satisfaction and other people’s benefit converge.
With this in mind, it’s wise to consider what challenges other people are facing and how you can help people work through them as you try to find a job you love. Ask yourself, “What are people wrestling with, and how can my strengths be of service to them?” Successfully answer that question and potential, meaningful work is just around the corner.
Your Dream Job as an Introvert
As you think about what you have to contribute as an introvert, keep in mind your introvert strengths. You’ll likely be a great writer, researcher, and listener, on top of any other abilities that spring from your personality, upbringing, and general life experiences.
Also think about your environment. You’ll need significantly more time alone than an extrovert, and you’ll likely work best in a quiet environment that allows you think for extended periods of time without interruption. Whether or not you need interaction with and support from coworkers will vary based on your introvert personality.
Lastly, as an introvert, you’ll be prone to think and research jobs of interest until you’re blue in the face, but that tendency can be counterproductive. At some point, you’re going to need to get out and try different positions. Job shadow, talk to people who are doing work you might enjoy, and conduct mini experiments where you try out jobs temporarily. (Chip and Dan Heath call this Ooching.) Exploration and trial and error are a necessary part of identifying what you enjoy and are good at and will help you find a job you love.
Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Don’t ever forget that the work you do is important and the time you invest in finding the right job is time well spent.
To find a job you love as an introvert, what’s the most important step? Share your thoughts in the comments!