“What am I doing?”
Often, I’ve come across people struggling with their careers and asking this exact question—and the answers have always been different. On one hand, there are young, idealistic professionals who have yet to figure out what work they really want to do. On the other, there are also those who have spent years in the same line of work and suddenly just realize it’s not for them. Interesting how long it takes for some people to take a step back and say, “I’m no longer happy where I am right now.”
Work to pay the bills.
For most people, work is just a way to make ends meet—and maybe save a bit of money in the process. It’s a natural trend to fall into, after all, especially for a fresh graduate who likely has some hefty loans to settle. Unfortunately, many find it hard to get out of this money-driven mindset, and the pursuit of happiness is forced into the backseat, sometimes to stay there for a long while yet. I know what it’s like to have your needs take centre stage in your career. If you’re in this situation, you’re not alone.
Sometimes, you just have to look for a deeper meaning to your work other than just money. Does your job fulfill a bigger social responsibility instead of just filling your pockets? Can you honestly say you enjoy what you’re doing day to day and won’t tire of doing it anytime soon? Some people say that if you find a job that you enjoy doing, then you won’t ever have to “work” a day in your life. But what if you don’t?
Sometimes, changing how you see your job could help. If you’re not doing what you love, learn to love what you’re doing. Find little ways to add meaning to your routine. If you’re doing reception work, see it as a means to build friendship and expand your network. If you work at a call centre, value each conversation you make when you answer the phone. There is something honourable about being nice to people. You don’t know how much frazzled people might need a soothing voice and a warm hello.
Finding meaning in your work is more than just satisfying either your needs or wants. It’s about achieving a balance and realizing you can never have one without working for the other. This takes us back to the importance of goal-setting in your career. If you have objectives you can work towards achieving, then your work becomes worthwhile. Have both short term and long term goals that include YOU and some things that would give you joy. Financial goals are always excellent. Goals for your family are noble. But setting goals for personal development or for personal recreation must be in there too.
So what are you doing? If you feel that you aren’t happy with what you’re doing, then make a change. Just be strategic and tactical when you do it. Get into a mind-set of always looking forward to your next venture, without losing focus of what you’re doing at the moment. Work will find its meaning in its own time.