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The Holy Grail: Building a career you love

(Thinkstock)

(Thinkstock)

Is your job just work — the sort that you go to simply because you need to earn a pay cheque so you can pay your bills? Or does your job make you jump out of bed each morning, thrilled to be on your way?

Building a career you love is the holy grail of professional life for many. It’s a topic several LinkedIn Influencers weighed in on this week.

From finding that fulfilling career, to the keys to happiness at work and even the crazy perks that could make you love your job even more (and how to ask the boss to give them), there are ways to make a job more than just a pay cheque.

Here’s what several Influencers had to say about happiness at work.

Richard Branson, founder at Virgin Group

Branson counts himself lucky to wake each morning to a job he loves, but he wrote in his post How to Find a Fulfilling Career, “a lot of people… are not fortunate enough to have a job which they are passionate about.”

Everyone wants a fulfilling career, he wrote, but “one of the major stumbling blocks for most people [to make it happen] is fear. You might have found yourself in a well-paid and highly respected position; even if you’re unhappy in the role, leaving it behind can be a daunting task.”

To get out of that mindset — and open yourself up to creating a fulfilling career — the first step is to rethink risk, he suggested. “When most people think about taking a risk they associate it with negative connotations, when really they should view it as a positive opportunity,” Branson wrote. “Believe in yourself and back yourself to come out on top.”

That might mean taking a class to make a change in direction possible, taking up a lower-level position in a career track you want to be on, or perhaps starting your own business, he wrote.

Think that sounds too pie-in-the-sky? Consider Danielle Stokes, who works for Virgin Australia and “has a remarkable story of career progression. Now a young pilot Danielle used to be cabin crew for the airline and previous to that she worked in a cafe to save money for pilot training,” Branson wrote. “The moral of this story? Never give up on your dreams! A fulfilling career is waiting for those brave enough to find it.”

Ilya Pozin, chief executive officer at Open Me

“Do you feel a twinge of anger when you read about the latest and greatest work perks being offered today? Well, you’re not alone,” wrote Pozin in his post 22 Crazy Perks You Should Ask Your Boss For.

“But before you get too far ahead of yourself, it’s important to remember what typically lies behind some of the most famous — or infamous — job perk offerings,” he wrote. That’s right, such cushy perks usually come with very high expectations from the companies that offer them. “You get what you give.”

Since you are likely giving your all to your company, it can’t hurt to ask for something, well, crazy. What should you go after?

We can all dream a little,” offered Pozin. Among the 22 offbeat perks he suggested:

A giant cargo-net hammock where you can go to finally get some work done. A never-ending stockpile of free coffee. Pets roaming freely in the office. A state-of-the-art health club in your building. A life coach or mentor to help you overcome your personal and professional hurdles. A designated nap room.”

Gary Swart, chief executive officer at oDesk

What, exactly, makes people happy with their jobs? It’s not some sort of secret recipe, wrote Swart in his post, Four keys to happiness in your job. Instead, it comes down to “four main things,” he wrote. “Impact… Growth and Development… Financial Reward… and Work-Life Balance.”

“The importance and weighting of each of these things varies for each individual, and can change over a person’s career,” Swart wrote, making it important to regularly assess where you are on on each one.

“People today want to be in a position where they can make an impact. They want to be in jobs where they get to tackle problems and have the freedom to solve them,” he wrote.

While measuring impact and financial reward might be easy, the other dimensions might not be as simple to assess. For instance, he wrote, “It is each person’s responsibility to take the reins of his or her career, but it is the company’s responsibility to provide people with the opportunities they need to grow,” Swart wrote.

To figure out if you have the right opportunities to develop, ask yourself a few questions. “Have you ever been sent into a challenging situation… but you gave it everything you had, navigated the white water, and found a solution. How did you feel afterward? Hugely proud and accomplishment, right?,” Swart wrote. “While easy wins are fun, true growth happens from pushing through the tough stuff and coming out the other side with a win.”

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