I would like to challenge the common belief and mass marketing sell that is insisting that our jobs become careers full of passion, meaning, and fulfillment. Is it fair to put such grand expectations on our jobs? Why do our jobs need to be intricately connected to our calling and our passion? For some of us they may be, and for others, our meaning and identity for ourselves just simply is not connected to a job.
Instead, could our jobs be a means to an end to travel maybe, to retire early, to give you an opportunity to spend more time with your children, or to find better balance in your life? There are so many other acceptable reasons to have and keep our jobs; we do not necessarily have to have the job that checks all of the passion and fulfillment boxes that everyone is telling us that they need to.
What we need to decide for ourselves is what are our boxes that need checking in our life? Is it that travel box? Or maybe it is the spend more time with family box….
The news feeds on social media and career networking sites continually perpetuate the notion that we must find fulfillment in our jobs. If we do not find this fulfillment, are our jobs not good enough?
Many of my clients have by all measures good jobs that provide good or excellent pay, great benefits, vacation and some semblance of work life balance and they are still not finding fulfillment. What they are experiencing is a sense of guilt for not being more appreciative of the job that they have that they were supposed to strive for. There is an incongruence in what they thought their jobs were supposed to provide to them, what society is telling them their jobs should be, and how they feel about them.
My challenge then is this…
Get curious about what a job or career should mean to you. If your career is important to you and achieving certain milestones in your career brings you fulfillment, then by all means work towards finding those in your current role and nurture those. Think about what it means to you to achieve those milestones and relish in the achievement. And remember, even if your job is your dream job there are certainly going to be days where your job feels like work and takes more effort than normal. If instead a career is just a means to an end then make it that. Think about rejecting the pressure to have a meaningful career centered around your passion if a career is not of primary importance to you. Use the need to have a job to fund those things that bring you meaning such as your family life, travel, retirement, whatever it is. And if that means to a end job is still not working for you or allowing you the opportunities to pursue your life goals and meaning, then it may be worth exploring what kind of job will help you to achieve those things. Possibly then, if you have a job that is allowing you to live the life that you want, you can love your job just a little bit more too.