Finding Inspiration

By Anica Wong

June 3, 2013 5 min read

Inspiration can come from any number of things. Artists find inspiration in nature. Basketball players find inspiration in the abilities of the players who came before them. We can each find inspiration in situations around us on a daily basis. But when it comes to our jobs, many of us think that our happiness and our work life are two separate concepts that were never meant to meet. While some are inspired by a paycheck, countless others strive to find motivation, stimulation and meaning in the place where they spend most of their time.

According to a recent survey done by Right Management, only 19 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their job, while a whopping 44 percent said they were unsatisfied.

"The word 'work' doesn't really align with the word 'passion' very well," says Andrea Karapas. As the associate director of alumni career counseling at Colorado State University, Karapas meets with people who are trying to find meaning in their jobs. "People keep them very separate, and until you can propose the idea that you can be passionate about your work, it is a new concept for people, and that's where the light bulb goes on."

Staying unsatisfied and unmotivated in your job is completely up to you, but if you decide to make a change and seek inspiration, Karapas has some suggestions.

First, she says most people who are unhappy in their job might be feeling that way because of one thing that is casting a shadow over everything they do. Whether this is a manager they don't like, a long commute or a chatty co-worker, these little things often add up to create a frustrating situation that can make an employee feel like they need to make a huge transition.

Karapas suggests taking an inventory of the things you don't like in your job and determining whether and how you can change them. Maybe you really like your company, but you and your department manager keep butting heads. Talking to co-workers and exploring other roles in different parts of the organization could lead you to make a minor tweak in your job function that could cause you to be happier.

Don't be afraid to try roles you've never done before. "Maybe there are just a couple of new skills that you need to transition into something else," says Karapas. Get as much information as you can about what roles help make the company run, and see whether you might be a good fit elsewhere.

If you decide that something more than a minor tweak is necessary to find your inspiration at work, Karapas warns that you need to be dedicated to making that change. "(People) don't want to take the time to go through the exploration process and research. It is really important to do that before you leap."

If you feel like you don't even have a map to find your inspiration, check out various models on the topic. Karapas uses the John Holland Theory of Vocational Choice, which points to a very simple idea: When you choose work that matches your interests and passions, you are going to be more satisfied with your work. The theory pairs career choices with personality types, aligning what people like to do with potential career paths. These types of assessments can be a great starting point.

People hold assumptions that when making a career transition further education will be required and they won't have the necessary skills to fulfill the role. This is where the research comes in. Focus on potential industries, organizations and roles, and get as much relevant information as you can. Find the themes in education, experience and skill sets. This will help you pinpoint the gaps in your skill set that you need to fill in order to be qualified for the job.

While each company and organization will be different and will require specific things from their employees, the overarching qualifications should be consistent. This information is key to finding the role that inspires you.

Reflect, explore and take control of your career. And don't worry if you don't find the perfect job on your first go at it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a person will hold 11.3 jobs from the ages of 18 to 46. Your inspiration is out there somewhere.

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