Not a lot of people are “meant” to do something. They just say that to sell bad books. Salman Rushdie might make an excellent, and content, supply chain management consultant. Who knows? You will find various amounts of meaning and satisfaction in various things. Choose your compromises wisely.”
Sidin’s column is one I keep forgetting to read and then when I do I find myself snorting and chuckling, so maybe it’s a good thing I don’t read it too often considering I’m in office and all that.
So, the above quote, I think is the opposite (at least in sentiment) of the last post, which is very follow-your-heart types. The truth is I am ambivalent on the job satisfaction thing.
I think my contemporaries have hit a stage where some amount of angst sets in. Settled into a career but not exactly at the helm of it. I hear many friends complaining about how they don’t feel engaged by what they’re doing, that they’re not really passionate about their jobs, that they don’t feel fulfilled.
A lot of this comes from the sentiment that Sidin expressed – that we are led to believe that we are “meant” to do something, that we should find our “calling”. Well, I think, if my calling is to correct other people’s English then that is seriously pathetic. I am more comfortable with the idea that this “calling” concept is a big myth, just like the myth of “the one”. That’s not to say the odd Florence Nightingale or Christiann Amanpour won’t pop up now and then, just that most of us have less intense feelings about our jobs.
As Sidin says, there are a range of options and compromises to be made in order to feel happy. Don’t feel unhappy just because your job doesn’t make you leap up your tail wagging every Monday.
Some Donald Trump-type person said something on lines of how you should do something that makes you happy to go to work every morning. Well. Good for the Donald (if it was indeed him who said it) but I think that’s a little unrealistic. Anything that you do every day is bound to become a bit of a drudge even if you started out liking it. Like my husband likes to cook but if he had to cook every day he’d get a bit cross. I understand. Sometimes you just want to chill on the couch with a book. Okay, a lot of the time. That doesn’t mean you hate your job.
I also think this whole idea of “being fulfilled” may have also gone a bit too far. As long as your job doesn’t make your skin crawl (like number-related stuff makes mine) and you enjoy aspects of it, you’re fine. It would be great if what you do is what makes you tick. However, sometimes just by virtue of doing it everyday it can stop being enjoyable. In fact, one of the reasons for my brief foray into law was that I didn’t want to turn my hobby – writing – into my job.
The fact is that my job involves writing – even when I was a journalist – but it is not the kind of writing I do in my free time. It helps that I am good at my job and I can do it with ease, which was really the point of the last post. If you have to pick a job, pick something you’re good at. It makes doing it every day so much easier because you can be done with it quick and without stress. And pick something that somewhat interests you – so I like being in education, rather than finance (For now. Who knows when I might go knocking at the banker’s door?) – because again it makes it easier to spend a good chunk of the day on.
But fulfillment, passion, I’m not so sure about that. I don’t think it’s possible for everyone to find work that absolutely fulfills them. And I also think we need to find stuff to be passionate about in our jobs. Like I have a lot of drudge editing but I also have a chance to write speeches, write ad campaign slogans and blurbs and shape how the university is marketed. I love those parts and put my heart into it. By the way, I took the job thinking it would be just drudge editing and I was fine with that. I do a lot of my own writing on the side, as you can see.
But if you really feel so strongly about matching your job with your passion, then go do it. If you were really passionate about it, you would. I know most of us aren’t loaded with capital but we have more resources and networks than a lot of people who have gone on to do much more. So go do it. Take that leap, take the stress that comes with it, take pay cut and do it. Then if you fail, maybe you have the right to complain.