Dear E & V,
Take a look at this list of post titles from Reddit’s job forum…
“What the hell do I do with my life? Just graduated?”
“When should I reach back out to a hiring manager about my interview status?”
“Is it a bad sign if a company re-lists a job online after you interview for it? “
“My boss seems to hate me and I get the impression he’s trying to force me out. But my boss’s boss and the execs seem to like me if not love me. What can I do to save my job?”
“Does anyone else think the worst part of jobs are meetings because you get to face criticism at times?”
“New job trying to trick me into doing overtime”
“Telling my supervisor I’m leaving my job, is it okay to tell them in an email?”
“Let go from my job, trying to remain calm”
“How long does it typically take for someone to get up to speed in a new job?”
“Employee reviews forcing me to rate everyone in the office – how to proceed”
“I worked 22 hours straight and my boss wants me to come to work tomorrow. “
“Ghosted AFTER getting the job?”
” Is one week too soon to hear anything back about a job I applied for? “
“My company implemented a ‘dress for your day’ dress code, but no one is wearing shorts. Is it okay if I do?”
I see a couple things when I read posts like these:
- Some people take their jobs too seriously
- Some people take their job searches too seriously
- Some people are desperate for a job
- Some people will sacrifice their personal values, integrity, or dignity for a paycheck
If you find yourself feeling this way about your job or job search, take a deep breath and RELAX.
You need to realize a few things about the role of our careers in society and our lives…
It’s one of the unwritten rules in our society that your job is your identity. “What do you do?” is assumed to mean “How do you make money?”
So people look for a job that they think fits with their personality: I like to be outdoors, so I’m going to get into construction. I like to write computer programs, so I’m going to be a software developer. I like to write, so I’m going to be a journalist.
There are two reasons why this is a bad idea:
- Jobs ruin passions. It’s one thing to have complete creative control over your passions. It’s another thing when your passions are at the whim of someone else. You may love writing personal blog posts, but absolutely hate writing content for a technology newsletter. When someone else controls the direction of your passion, it loses a lot of its luster.
- Repetition ruins passions. Most people weren’t meant to do the same thing over and over every day. Even if you absolutely love being an electrician, there are usually other non-electrician things you love doing — cooking, running, building, etc. If you’ve ever had to do anything for more than 40 hours a week you’ve probably gotten bored of it.
If you can find a job that you know you’ll be passionate for, then by all means do it. I’ve talked with doctors, firefighters, software developers, and veterinarians who could not imagine doing anything else.
However if you’re like most people out there — and I would say the majority of office workers — most of your life will be spent at a job that you do just to earn a paycheck.
I’m not going to go into the details whether or not a job is the best way to earn a living — I agree with Mike Johnson that it’s not — because even if you find another way to earn a living there is a good chance that you will have to have a job at some point in your life.
Unless it involves literally saving someone’s life, no job is worth stressing out over. The next time you feel your blood pressure rising because of a bad boss or you start to get anxious about getting a job, keep these things in mind:
- You are more than your job. It only defines you in as much as you let it.
- The world will keep running if you make a mistake at your job, or lose a job, or your company collapses.
- Believe in yourself and your employability and adaptability and ability to creatively make money. If you believe that then you will never be afraid of your job ever again.
- Treat a job like you would a date. You don’t go into the date believing the other person has more power than you, likewise you shouldn’t go into a job or job interview thinking the company has more power than you. Employers are humans too, don’t sacrifice your dignity and grovel before them because you’re desperate for a job.
- Never take career advice from someone who has been at the same company for most of their lives. They tend to be the ones afraid of change and will scare you away from taking the risks that you need to be happy and successful.
- If you have to take a job, just remember that you are sacrificing your freedom for a little bit of financial security — but even then you can be fired or laid off at anytime. Only you can decide if that sacrifice is worth it.
I know this article sounds like I’m anti-job. I am only insofar as you take on work that is meaningless and leads you to a less-than-fulfilling life. As long as you find work that makes you a better person, you’ll be fine.
You know yourself best, and I trust you to make the decision that is best for you and (if you have one) your family.
I am a Father, Husband, Cowboy Philosopher, Volunteer Firefighter, and Professional Dilettante. I am nothing and I am everything. But when it comes to our relationship: I only wish you wonder and happiness.