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Passion and purpose–in short, doing what you love–can be difficult to find. Some people search forever. Some gain remarkable skills and talents only to think, I’m great at this. So why don’t I feel successful? Others, even after building successful businesses, suddenly think, Hold on. This is just not me.
Though we would all like to be happier at work, at times it’s easy to miss the work-we-love forest for the irritation trees. So I asked Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot (No, 666 on the Inc. 5000 in 2013) and a guy who has spent a tremendous amount of time thinking about doing what he loves and creating a company his employees love, how he knows he loves his work.
See what you think. Though some of the following may not be true all of the time, when you love what you do, many should be the case much of the time. There’s a results chart at the end, so keep track of how many apply to you:
1. You don’t struggle to stay disciplined; you struggle to prioritize. Your problem definitely isn’t staying busy and on task. Getting going isn’t an issue. Your problem is you have so many things you want to do, you struggle to decide what to do first.
2. You think, I hope I get to… instead of, I hope I don’t have to… When you love your work, it’s like peeling an onion. There are always more layers to discover and explore. When you hate your work it’s also like peeling an onion–but all you find are more tears.
3. You don’t talk about other people; you talk about the cool things other people are doing. “I hear Chad just invested in a startup. What are they working on?” “I can’t believe Angie won their business back; I’d love to know how she did it.” “Cecilia developed a new sales channel. Let’s ask her how we can best leverage that.”
When you love your work, you don’t gossip about the personal failings of others. You talk about their successes, because you’re happy for them (which is also also a sign you’re happy with yourself.)
4. You think about what you will say, not how you will say it. You don’t have to worry about agendas or politics or subtle machinations. You trust your team members–and they trust you.
5. You see your internal and external customers not as people to satisfy but simply as people. You don’t see customers as numbers. They’re real people who have real needs. And you gain a real sense of fulfillment and purpose from taking care of those needs.
6. You enjoy your time at work. You don’t have to put in time at work and then escape to “life” to be happy. You enjoy life and enjoy work. You feel alive and joyful not just at home but also at work. When you love your work, it’s a part of your life.
7. You enjoy attending meetings. No, seriously, you enjoy meetings. Why? Because you like being at the center of thoughtful, challenging discussions that lead to decisions, initiatives, and changes–changes you help make happen.
8. You don’t think about surviving. You think about winning. You don’t worry much about your business failing. You’re more worried about your business not achieving its potential. And you worry about whether you’re making as big an impact as you can. Those are good worries.
9. You’re excited about what you’re doing, but you’re more excited about the people you’re doing it with. Why? They’re smart. Passionate. Confident. Funny. Dedicated. Giving. Inspiring.
10. You hardly ever look at the clock. You’re too busy making things happen. And when you do look at the clock, you often find that the time has flown.
11. You view success in terms of fulfillment and gratification, not just money. Everyone wants to build something bigger. Everyone wants to benefit financially. Yet somewhere along the way, your work has come to mean a lot more to you than just a living. And if you left your business, even if for something that paid more, you would miss it. A lot.
12. You leave work with items on your to-do list you’re excited about tackling tomorrow. Many people cross the fun tasks off their to-do lists within the first hour or two. You often have cool stuff–new initiatives, side projects, hunches you want to confirm with data, people you want to talk to–left over when it’s time to go home.
13. You help without thinking. You like seeing your employees succeed, so it’s second nature to help them out. You pitch in automatically. And they do the same for you.
14. You don’t think about retirement, because retirement sounds boring…and a lot less fulfilling.
15. Your business is a business you would want your children to run. There may be aspects of your business you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, much less your kids: insufferable customers, unbearable employees, difficult working conditions, uncertain long-term prospects.
If you would say to your child, “No, I would never want you to have to deal with that,” why do allow yourself to continue to deal with that?
Naturally, you want your kids to be happy. You also deserve to be happy. List the problems and then fix the problems.
How many of the above statements apply to you and your business?
If you said:
0-4: You need to find a line of work. Life is too short.
5-8: You don’t hate your work but don’t love it either. What can you do differently?
9-12: You really enjoy your work and the people you work with.
13-15: You are deeply, madly in love with your work! (And your friends are jealous!)