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What do we really enjoy?

Identifying the pleasure points of work



Every career change book has a section on rooting out what really drives you. In Designing Your Life, for example it was coming up with a workview and a lifeview (what is work for? What gives life meaning?), and keeping a diary of what engages and energies you. In A Job to Love, we consider the “pleasure points of work” – twelve pleasures that we will resonate with each of us to a different degree.


They are:

  1. The pleasure of making money (the thrill of making money, not for what it will buy, but more for the endorsement it gives of your skills, of sussing out the market)

  2. The pleasure of beauty (taking joy in aesthetic appeal)

  3. The pleasure of creativity

  4. The pleasure of understanding (Why are things as they are? How does this actually work? What lies behind the headlines of a news story? If this pleasure resonates with you, you want to know the answers)

  5. The pleasure of self-expression

  6. The pleasure of technology

  7. The pleasure of helping people

  8. The pleasure of leading (you don’t just want to be in charge because of the status it brings; you enjoy being in charge)

  9. The pleasure of teaching

  10. The pleasure of independence

  11. The pleasure of order

  12. The pleasure of nature

Have a think about the pleasures set out above (there are detailed examples for each within the book). Which ones strike a chord? Can you think of examples from your past when you’ve experienced these pleasures? Have a go at ranking the pleasures from highest to lowest.


This is a useful exercise, the authors say, because if we start to look at places where we can find these pleasures, rather than just thinking about specific jobs, a much broader array of career opportunities will open itself up to us. It’s worth thinking about the jobs that we have previously done, or are considering in the future. How do they stack up against our pleasure points?


Now that you have your pleasure points, you can use them in a whole host of ways. A couple of interesting exercises from the book are dealing with job fixation, and the odd but exciting job





Job fixation

Sometimes we may get obsessed with a particular job or industry, whilst at the same time facing massive obstacles in entering it.

One example from the book is journalism (and I can definitely relate to this, having been keen on becoming a journalist after I graduated). It’s a heavily oversubscribed career, despite the economics of the whole industry having been rapidly eroded in the last 10 or 20 years. So, instead of doing yet another unpaid internship, we can think instead – what are the pleasure points that this career is offering? And are there any other industries where we can also find them?


They suggest an interesting exercise making a parallel with love. Think of a time in the past when you were really obsessed with someone (not your current partner!). What was it that attracted you to them? Was it their amazing hair, their smile, sense of humour, optimism? Next, think about when you have found those traits in other people. Now that you have moved on, you know that you can find these traits elsewhere. And in the same way, you can find the pleasures that you seek in work in a number of different places too. Give the exercise a go and see whether it works for you!


The odd but exciting job

This is a fun one, I think.

  • Make a list of 5 jobs that you would like to do

  • Now list out another 15 jobs. Don’t worry about them being practical, or things that you would realistically do (this is your chance to put circus manager down…)

  • Have a look at your more imaginative list of 15. You’ve put them down because each one, in some way, strikes a chord with you. See if you can pin down what the pleasure points are that each job fulfils.

  • Note that this exercise is not about the jobs; rather we’re learning about our own interests, which can be found in more conventional places as well.


I think the joy of this exercise is that it allows you to completely break free of the boundaries of realism that we generally have firmly in place when we think about what future work we might do.


So: what are your pleasure points? And how might you incorporate them into your work and, indeed, into your life?


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