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chasing answers newsletter #16
What should a job be?
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” - Steve Jobs
Hello and welcome back!
Summer is flying by.
In one month, my little girl is going to kindergarten, and while I am excited for her, I am also a little sad for myself. The past five years have felt like five weeks.
I have always thought about the passing of time way too much, but since becoming a father, it has been amplified times ten.
All this thinking about time, my little girl growing up, and what she will do with her life has made me think more about mine and how I spend my time. I spend more time on my job than any one area of my life, which has me wondering, "what should a job be?"
I hope my boss doesn't read this.
Last week I wrote about my struggle with my writing journey.
This week's topic is related.
I started this journey because I felt like there was something more out there, and I wasn't sure how to find it. I have struggled in recent years with the feeling that I'm not really doing anything to make a difference in the world. At least not in terms of my job, which is what I spend more waking hours on than anything. There's just nothing there. Nothing worth mentioning in a eulogy.
I have a good job, make decent money, and by most people's standards, have nothing to complain about. But, there's nothing about my work that I really believe in.
I don't mean, believe in, like is it real. It's not Bigfoot. Clearly, it exists. I mean, I'm not doing anything that makes me feel good when I do it. It's strictly for the paycheck. If the money weren't there or were it to get reduced, I'd be gone. And for several years now, this has really been weighing on my mind. I understand this is a first-world problem. People all over the world and many in my home country of the US, would kill to have this problem. I get that. I'm just a whiny little brat.
But it's my newsletter, so I'm going to whine.
I’m not even sure I know what a job should be.
Should it simply be a task you do in return for a paycheck to support yourself and your family? Something wholly disconnected from who you are as a person and what you believe in? Simply a means to an end? Is that ok? Some people have little choice but for that to be the definition of a job.
Should it be something you are passionate about and deeply believe in? Even if it barely allows you to live a comfortable life? If it leaves you working your whole life just to make ends meet?
What if it's something you hate to the depth of your soul, but it pays you significantly more than you need to live, allowing you to accumulate wealth and do other things? Is that a fair tradeoff?
Is it better to spend 25 years working a job you hate that pays you so much you can retire early and have freedom, or is it better to spend your entire life working a job you love but that never offers you the option of retirement?
It gets even more complicated when you throw your family in the mix. What if that job that makes you wealthy pulls you away from your family? That changes the dynamic for sure. Or what if that job you love but pays next to nothing pulls you away from your family? That may be an even tougher question.
All this has been running through my mind continuously for the last few years, and I'm struggling to find the answers. I am burnt out at my job. It offers me no satisfaction beyond a paycheck. But that paycheck is well above average for where I live. It allows my family to do things we otherwise couldn't do. Is the tradeoff worth it? I don't know the answer.
Right now, my gut says doing something I love while making less and spending more time with my family would be infinitely better. I hesitate, though, because I don't want to rob my daughter of experiences that I currently can afford to give her. Things I may no longer be able to afford should I walk away from my job.
I know, first-world problems.
I don't know the answers to any of these questions, and I've already shit all over the inside of my therapist's head, so I turned to Google for some advice. Below is what I found.
This article is realistic if nothing else. It argues following your passion is a good thing, but not necessarily because your passion will lead you to fame and fortune. Because following your passion will make you stick with things longer, leading to open doors down paths you would never have considered, ultimately leading to success.
I'm a big fan of Mark Cuban, but I don't entirely follow the logic here. Maybe someone can help me find what I'm missing. Mark says not to follow your passion but to follow your effort. Pay attention to where you are spending your time and focus on that.
I feel most people probably spend their time on what they are passionate about. Or, they are spending time on something because they have already made the conscious effort to focus on it, so it's a self-fulfilling prophecy at that point. If any of you glean better info from this advice, please let me know.
Passion isn't enough, and you better have a backup plan is the premise of this one. Again, it is realistic for sure, pointing out that money always has to be part of the equation because, like it or not, we can't live without it.
I include this one because I like how they wrapped up the article. It presents the good and the bad about following your passion but ends with a creative alternative. Follow your curiosity. It can be hard to know what "the" passion of our life is, as many people will have several throughout their lives, so just follow the things you are curious about since any one of those could become "the" one.
This is just a tiny sample of everything on the internet that revolves around work and finding what you love to do. I don’t have the answer here, but I am continuously searching. I would love to hear what you think about following your passion. Or settling for something that doesn't suck if that's your chosen route. And if I have an Aha! moment, I’ll be sure to let you know.
That’s all for now.
I hope you all have a great week!
As always, I would love to hear from you.
If you read something here that resonates with you, leave a comment.
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