Do You Love Your Architecture Job?

Sara Mandeed
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Just do what you love!

A simple phrase, but deep at the core. You can see it on those inspirational posters or magazine cover images. I have seen it all over my social feeds and yet, I have not been truly successful in making it my mantra.

Why? Becuase it’s hard to detect the different in how you love your job and how you enjoy your job. The fact I enjoy my job does not necessarily mean I love it (and therefore settle for not pursuing something else …).

To begin with, it’s quite hard to figure out what that word “love” brings to an equation. What exactly am I talking about when I use that word?

Having asked myself this question many times, I have never really figured it out. I always knew what it was, but was never able to translate it into a specific imagery of what and how I loved my profession.

But I have developed a way to feel about it and definitely know when you love your profession than when you don’t.

To be able to find out how you feel about your profession, at different points in time, requires you to first define what exactly does it mean to feel about a particular thing? How do we know what we feel?

Pay = Happiness

If you're earning a modest salary but you're satisfied with your life overall, you might consider that as one of the ways in which you get paid.

You may have been in school for a long time or have a family to take care of, which is why you opt not to work overtime or take on a second job. This means that you will likely be part of the lower percentages of earners when it comes to architects.

Many employers do not want to work with independent contractors because they do not have the ability to supervise them. If you're one who doesn’t consider themselves strictly an employee, this might be perfect for you.

Many independent contractors are far more satisfied than employees in their positions. As an independent contractor, you get to keep the money leftover from a job, which means more money in your pocket at the end of the day.

Immersing Yourself

Architects, like all artists, need to immerse themselves in visual stimulation in order to come up with new ideas. Whether this comes in the form of going on a long hike, visiting art museums, or simply staring out the window, architects need to be constantly receiving inspiration from the world around them. This allows them to come up with designs that are unique and offer a fresh perspective on buildings and places that we all experience every day.

Of course, it’s important that architects don’t allow themselves to get stuck in a rut; this could lead to a creative block that prevents them from seeing the beauty of the world around them. They need to be aware of their habits and constantly challenge themselves to do something different.

It’s possible that you’re one of these lucky people who is surrounded by beautiful sights, or maybe you’re the type who has to get away from it all to truly appreciate your surroundings. Either way, if you’re an architect or an aspiring architect, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about different architecture ideas, and we have the tools to help you get started.

The 10,000 Hour Rule

Even after reading about the 10,000 hour rule in popular books (i.e. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell), Dr. Anders Ericsson was skeptical that such a rule existed for expertise.

However, in his 1993 study on chess players, he found that those who had accumulated 10,000 hours of deliberate practice performed significantly better (as opposed to those who had 2,000 hours of practice or less).

He also found that the number of hours of practice was closely correlated with performance. So the top performers invested 10 times more time practicing than the average performers.

This research inspired Dr. K. Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool to write the book, Peak: Secrets of the New Science of Expertise. The book discusses how individuals can achieve expertise in their field.

In the book, they provide compelling evidence supporting the idea that the key to expertise is deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is hard and it involves continuous, detailed feedback. For lack of a better way of putting it – it’s deliberate practice if a teacher would have to say “That is incorrect.”

IQ and natural intelligence are only small contributors to an individual’s success. Dr. Ericsson believes that by following the principles of deliberate practice, anyone can reach a high level of skill in any skill they choose to put their minds to.

Quitting is for winners

It is impossible to be happy in your job. No matter how great it is, you can always find someone who does it better than you.

Actually, you are doing yourself a disservice.

I’m a freelance architect and have very little structure to my day. I enjoy that freedom but at times it feels like I’m also missing something.

Most of us are not going to win in life. We lose time after time, day after day. Instead of losing in life, why not take a radical approach.

Radically change your work life to be one where you are winning.

I have been failing a lot recently … but I have been enjoying every moment of it.

I’ve left my job to focus on family. I have spent more time with my family. I’ve enjoyed it more too. I have been speaking to hundreds of people each week as I’ve discovered how more deeply I can connect with them.

I’ve been failing in many ways. I’ve lost designs and I haven’t sold as much, but my family is happy to see me.

There is no right way to be successful. There is only your way. Make it your dream way. Enjoy it.

Work life balance

Is important to me.

For most people, work can be quite stressful. If you are a career of the last 9 to 5er, it is likely you are working for far more hours than what you are getting paid for.

But aside from stress, you can also experience burnout in your career. There are a lot of reasons why, but the type of work you do as an architect plays a big part of it.

While you have to dedicate hours to learning your trade, the main goal is not to keep your head buried in textbooks, but to build good architectural skills. If you are constantly forced to get things done without any time to take a break, your work will end up suffering.

So if you are an architect who loves his job, you should be able to work and still find time for other things. You need to be able to work and still have structure in your life.

Find ways in which you can free yourself from your stressors at work.

Ask Yourself These Questions —

How would your life change if you were able to be happier at work? How would it change if you no longer work one particular job for the rest of your life? How would your life be different if you did not have to work at all?

Are you a Sprinter or a Straggler?

Is there a difference between being a sprinter and being a straggler?

The underlying principle of both sprinting and straggling is that your position, and thus your success, is dependent on what the leader does. Sprinters wait until they see the job well and truly done, and then they grab it. Stragglers wait for the initial wave of action to ebb, then wade in thinking the work is done.

How do you sprint or straggle?

Do you have a “go big or go home” attitude about your work? Or do you give a little and assume that’ll be enough?

Do you forge ahead or stop to consider if that’s the smartest way to go?

Is your work based on the assumption that excellence requires a push beyond “good enough?”

Is your work based on the assumption that excellence requires a push beyond “good enough?”

Do you track your progress and revise your work when you see things are not going well or things could be better.

Or do you assume things are fine?

Debt Versus Career

Architects and other creative professionals bring their unique vision to the world through their work. Many people are driven to follow their dreams and to develop creative careers, but they soon discover that the desire for a fulfilling career doesn’t always translate into something that helps you pay your bills.

As an architect, there is no doubt that you’re passionate about building and designing houses, and that’s something that people respect. However, if you have to offer your clients a large part of your time at a small fee and this becomes too much of an expectation, you’re not going to be happy.

As you advance in your career, you’ll probably find that you’re more and more concerned about the debt you’ve incurred and the mounting expenses that you have to meet every month.

When your job security is such that you see yourself having to change jobs frequently, it’s likely that you’re going to feel insecure and dissatisfied in your job, to the point that you may end up going through periods where you also hate what you’re doing. This is a recipe for long-term unhappiness and is the kind of situation where you’re tempted to make big decisions about your career.

How do you find your passion?

I have often said that the ability to remain passionate about the work you do is the foundation of a joyful career. I’ve seen too many talented people suffer from the fact that their work has become a chore and they aren’t any longer excited about doing it.

For some, it’s a crisis. For others, it’s the natural progression of a career. Any way you slice it, the result is an experience of work that feels desperate and joyless.

And if I could solve this problem for you and perhaps prevent it, I would.