At least a few times a year, I'm prompted to think about work. We all go there most days a week but rarely give any thought to whether it still makes sense to be there or if change is needed.
I receive a lot of email newsletters that are focused on career ladies, like myself, and they typically follow the same tired career tropes:
- Find what you love and you'll never "work" a day in your life!
- Take a risk and do what you love!
The reason I call these tired is because we all know that doing what you want, in any given moment, is often more fulfilling than doing what you think you should be doing. For example, sleeping in on the weekend is way more fulfilling than spending those hours doing laundry or cleaning. This is common sense and not worth repeating.
Also, I find this tiring because it brings up a number of questions. Doing what you love may not pay the bills for you and your family. Taking risks without a safety net can then present a major danger to you and those who depend on you. In short, it's all very nice in the perfect scenario but life is rarely so perfect.
Recently, I came across a few pieces of content that bucked this trend and focused on far more attainable ways of promoting your long-term career health:
- Trent Hamm's The Myths and Realities of 'Doing What You Love' is great because it describes the reality of finding something you love but then how that can evolve into something that isn't so great. What's key here is how you can pivot from one thing to another without taking an extended unpaid sabbatical to travel the world for a year (something most regular people can't afford and yes, I'm throwing a wee bit of shade at Eat. Pray. Love). Really great advice here about how to maintain a side hustle.
- Another insightful piece I found was over on Medium by Brianna Wiest called You're Not Meant To Do What You Love. You're Meant To Do What You're Good At. In short, it contends that finding that sense of purpose in life is about doing things that you do well and help you contribute to the world around you. I know a woman who tried really hard to be a doctor and ended up becoming a fantastic nurse. Sometimes folks fall in love with the idea of being something instead of the actual career (think the same can be said about relationships, but that's a whole 'nother post!).
- And, finally, Ross McCammon published a piece on LinkedIn about The importance of sucking at a new job for a year or two which underscores how hard change is, but how it might be really good for us. Sometimes starting a new job makes me feel like Gob from Arrested Development ("I think I've made a big mistake") but then you realize that mistakes are a normal part of growth for any reasonably capable human being.