Everyone dreams of finding a job that totally fulfils them, allows time for a personal life, offers a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day, and, of course, comes with a big, juicy paycheck. But guess what? The perfect job is a myth. It doesn’t exist. Perfection is unattainable when it comes to work – or anything else in life.
Do you remember the famous “Best Job in the World” competition for a well-paid position as “Caretaker of the Islands” in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia? Even that didn’t turn out to be an utterly perfect job. The winner (from among 35,000 applicants!) was Ben Southall, from the United Kingdom. His winning application featured him jumping off a bridge, an act for which he was arrested by the police. And while enjoying his “perfect” job, he lost his girlfriend, worked exhaustingly long hours, and in the last week of his six-month tenure, was stung by a poisonous jellyfish whose venom could have killed him. (He made a full recovery… but now works elsewhere.)
How to make your job feel like it’s perfect
Okay, so we agree that there is no perfect job. But why does it seem like some people have career perfection, while you’re still searching? The truth is that others haven’t attained perfection at all: they simply have certain attitudes that allow them to make their jobs as close to perfect as possible.
The first thing people that are happy with their careers do is stop comparing themselves and their jobs to others. Just as with Ben Southall, other people’s jobs might sound perfect, especially on social media, where people only talk about their promotions and raises and fun team activities. No one talks about having to work on weekends or being skipped over for a big promotion on Facebook!
Once you stop imagining that other people have something you don’t have, a funny thing happens: you start to see the positive sides of what you do have. This is called “optimism”. People who are happy in their careers have just as many hurdles and setbacks as anyone else. What makes them different is what they believe about themselves and their challenges.
Positive thinking enables personal (and career) growth
Another thing these same people possess is a positive mindset. This attitude can help you transform a “just okay” job into a great one. According to Carol S. Dweck, one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation, there are two types of mindsets, “fixed” and “growth”. People with fixed mindsets believe they’re born with a finite supply of intelligence and talent, and when faced with an obstacle, may feel incapable of overcoming it. People with growth mindsets, however, believe they are capable of – well, growing. When faced with a career (or any other) challenge, people with growth mindsets use their creativity and intelligence to figure out how to overcome it.
If you want a job you love, you can’t view the negative aspects of the job as insurmountable problems or see yourself as flawed and incapable. In her bestselling book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck says, “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”
Your brains and talent are just the starting point in finding perfection – or near-perfection – in your job. Your willingness to see the potential for growth all around you will do the rest.