Three things you need to create a perfect job

Meaning + Mastery + Autonomy = The Perfect Job

Working through a problem.

I was watching a morning news show. During the introduction the host quoted an academic study which predicted that 50% of the current workforce would be replaced by technological advances. This made me think more deeply about the definition and value of work.

The TV guest for this feature was Derek Thompson who discussed his article titled:  “A World Without Work”  published in the July issue issue of the Atlantic Magazine. He describes the problem well. In the era of great leaps in technology more and more tasks can be performed with less and less people. As a result the number of “jobs” will be reduced. In the future government may distribute the additional revenue from additional productivity by providing individuals with a basic income.

So will people embrace the idea of never working again?
The short answer is No!
People need work for reasons beyond bringing home a paycheck.



Taking care of others = The Unperfect job
One of the first jobs I thought of as rewarding and irreplaceable is a  profession which requires human connection. A job where one takes care of another person liking nursing or teaching.

Current research documents issues with  being a caregiver. It is a career path where the stress often outweighs the rewards and drives people out of these professions. Statistics show 50% of people who enter teaching will leave within the first five years. The shortage has fueled education models like online academies which eliminate personal contact and decrease the number of instructors.

Student learning  in an online academy.

Student learning in an online academy.

(Selection from Brain Pickings)

Members of certain professions are more prone to burnout than others – nurses and teachers, for example, are among those at highest risk. These professionals are faced daily with caregiving situations in their work lives, often with inadequate pay, inadequate help in their jobs, and with too many patients or students in their charge.  

So what’s a perfect job?
I think I have one.
“Full Time Creative Person”

Ceramic artist at work

Ceramic artist at work

According the article there will be an artist revenge as automation increases. Artisans made up the original American middle class. Before industrialization swept through the U.S. economy, many people who didn’t work on farms were silversmiths, blacksmiths, or woodworkers. These artisans were ground up by the machinery of mass production in the 20th century. But Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard, sees the next wave of automation returning us to an age of craftsmanship and artistry.

  "A world without work" Atlantic Monthly Jul 2015

Daniel H. Pink is the author of five provocative bestselling books about the changing world of work

Daniel H. Pink is the author of five provocative bestselling books about the changing world of work

The arts are big part of our economy already. According to the National Endowment for the Arts (Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account Issue Brief #1: The Arts and GDP)  the arts contributed to $698 billion to the US economy in 2012.  Unlike other sectors of the economy, the creative economy does not have trouble getting and retaining a workforce.

 A worker in the creative economy has an ideal working environment. Author Daniel Pink and supporter of the arts education;  describes in his book Drive “The Motivation Trifecta”: autonomy, mastery and purpose as the key to a productive workforce.

Autonomy: Studio Time
As an artist I love, love, LOVE(!) my studio time. As much as I loved teaching art, working alone on a visual problem or set of problems to create something is pure bliss. I am in complete control of my time, my work methods and can set my own goals.  The business side of art is a choice. Right now I choose to spend an hour every day on marketing, networking, or research.

Lea McComas award winning artist and book author.

Lea McComas award winning artist and book author explains her technique.

Mastery: Learning new skills
Artists are skill junkies. Let’s face if we all wander around galleries and museums asking ourselves “How did they do that?” As a group artists, naturally seek out opportunities to learn.

In a recent post I talked about taking online classes as a great way to work on the road. I order magazines and dvd’s that are filled with techniques. Like many of you I go to conferences and pay for workshops.

Purpose: I just can’t NOT create
Art is my addiction. I was away from my studio for six weeks and learned that I never want to be away that long again. When I am logging 4 – 8 hours a day at anything; then that activity can be defined as a job that I am passionate about – even if I am not generating income.

Daniel Pink describes purpose as that it’s connecting to a cause larger than yourself that drives the deepest motivation. Purpose is what gets you out of bed in the morning and into work without groaning and grumbling — something that you just can’t fake. (

Passion creates energy and motivation.  Passion, for me;  is the key indicator that I have found my true purpose:

To be an artist.

Until next time…….