My friend Adam loves his job in IT. He would do it even if they didn’t pay him. Which they do. A lot. It’s his career and passion and what he feels he’s meant to do with his life.
My friend Will recently started a new job. It’s not a career. He doesn’t go there to find meaning. After a tumultuous few years all he wants from his job is a paycheck, a routine. Maybe later he’ll want more, but right now it’s a stable centre from which to put his life together afresh.
My friend Sierra also just went back to a job, after several years experimenting with business ideas. The job is a way to finance the life she wants – the kids’ education, the overseas holidays. After thinking through her overall life goals, she decided she’d rather have the job for money and get her need for challenge and fulfillment satisfied in other ways.
My friend Fran drives herself crazy with pressure to make her job into a rich and meaningful part of her life. She has a great network of family and friends , she’s learning to sing, and she has a bunch of other stimulating hobbies. Yet she’s determined that her career should add significant meaning and fulfillment to her life. So far, after a couple of decades, it still doesn’t.
Does Having It All Stop You Having The Perfect Amount?
A lot of people talk about ‘having it all’. The great career, the fabulous family, the whole package.
But not everybody wants everything. Or everything all at once. For some people a job is a means to an end. For others it is the end.
What if you get your sense of meaning from your family?
What if you find creative fulfillment in your hobby?
What if your job is… just a job? Is that okay?
To answer that question I think you need to be honest about what you really want. If you aren’t ambitious, then ladder-climbing will never satisfy you. If working for someone else always feels wrong, then you’re going to have to consider working on your own. If having a family doesn’t feed your need for achievement, then you should explore what might. If you say you want it all but only have enough energy for some of it, then you need to prioritize what you want most.
What you expect from your job makes a big difference to how satisfied you feel with your life as a whole.
What does your job mean to you?
I used to have a ‘just a job’. I didn’t want any responsibility, just something to pay the mortgage and give me a routine. It was great for 3.5 years, until I was unexpectedly, and frankly, rather rudely disposed of.
Since then, I’ve been finding myself being guided back to my original love, being a pianist. I’m now trying to set up a business (as a funeral musician. Anybody organising a funeral, call me!). It’s so difficult to find gigs that I wonder if it’s worth it. But then I think about being stuck in an office 40 hrs a week and that motivates me to try harder at my craft. I know it’s a matter of just trying to get the first ‘gig’, then it’ll all be worthwhile. And that when I do get paid for my work, it won’t be a job, it’ll be my passion that I conveniently get paid for, too.
Best of luck with your new business, Mare! I hope you get that first gig very soon.