Don’t Wait For Your ‘Dream Job’ To Get In Flow

With all the books and magazines urging you to “follow your bliss,” it’s tempting to believe life would be a piece of cake — if only you had your “dream” job.

Mornings, you’d wake up bursting with energy, raring to go. Your work would be endlessly fascinating, your interactions with colleagues and clients energizing and, of course, you’d find yourself continuously and effortless in flow.

The truth is, no type of work inherently induces passion — and its natural companion, flow — or boredom. There are surgeons who are bored with their operating duties and machine operators who are enthralled with theirs.

As Alina Tugend points out in the New York Times, “If Not Passion for the Job, at Least Warm Feelings,” perhaps it is more important to be able to find flow — and a measure of passion — in whatever work you happen to be doing. Something that is wholly possible if you can achieve two of the major factors needed to feel good about a job according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the principal arbiter on flow; 1) a sense of personal control over a situation or activity and 2) a balance between one’s ability and potential so the endeavor is neither too easy nor too hard.

Ultimately, suggests Peter Warr, an emeritus professor at the Institute of Work Psychology at the University of Sheffield in England, “it would be better to think less in terms of passion, and the inflated sense of drama that can go with that, and more in terms of job satisfaction or finding meaning in your work.”

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