By Dan King
If you’ve been flirting with the possibility of more meaningful work, you’re not alone. After months (even years) of hunkering down in jobs that offer little more than the comfort of a paycheck, many are fantasizing about a more passionate worklife. Yet the fear of actually leaving their unhappy job is still very debilitating, so they remain in a loveless relationship.
We spend roughly 80,000 hours of our lives at work. That’s a lot of time to devote to something you don’t love. Sure you need the money, but at what cost? You can’t just consign your life’s work to nothing more than a financial equation with the hope of somehow finding meaning and happiness along the way.
Let’s face it. When we initially chose our career paths, we were just out of college — and all we wanted was an income so we could move into our own place, acquire stuff, and have a full social life. Our career decisions were based on who would hire us and what the job paid. But, as we continued to grow in our careers, we started to want more — more independence, more challenge, more flexibility. Our priorities shifted. The choices we made as twenty-somethings became less meaningful in mid-life. Shift happens.
If you’re currently in an unhappy, unhealthy work relationship, it’s time to start the divorce proceedings. To do so, you’ll need to pursue your passion as fervently as you pursue your paycheck. Here are some suggestions to help you find that “special” some-role:
Face Your Desire– Just as in romantic relationships, changing careers can be both exhilarating and terrifying. That’s because desire is merely the flip side of fear. Fear can paralyze you from taking action, but desire can propel you forward. If you focus on your desire to change more than your fear of the unknown, you’ll be well on your way to career bliss.
Explore Your Fantasies-Face it – you don’t know what you don’t know. If you knew what you don’t know, then you’d know what you need to do (read it again). What type of career relationship will satisfy your needs? Clarify whether you need a full career change, a career shift, or an industry or sector change before you leap.
Start with Small Steps – It’s hard to change careers when you’re currently holding down a full-time job, so take it easy. You don’t need to circle the bases on your first outing. Break the tasks down into weekly actions. Don’t wait for a long-weekend – or your vacation – because you’ll resent not having time to relax. Small steps, integrated into your daily work, can produce big results over time.
Go Your Own Way– We often just follow the paths that others have laid for us — and we allow our careers to just happen by accident. This is YOUR life. Let go of the crippling effects of approval from others. It’s okay to live your life as you please, as long as you don’t hurt anyone.
Pleasure Yourself– If you expect to find more pleasurable work, then the process of seeking it out ought to be pleasurable too. If you see this as just another chore on your “to-do” list, you’ll find reasons to avoid it. If you can’t enjoy the process, don’t expect to enjoy the end result.
Meaningful work is not achieved by settling for less, by just dodging layoffs and scrambling to find your next meal ticket. It comes from creating a life worth living, with the right balance of competence, intention and purpose. It respects your goals, your values and your needs — and contributes to the whole person you want to be, living the life you want to live, happily ever after …….
MeaningfulCareers.com was created by Mark Guterman and Dan King, two guys with a shared commitment to the power of meaningful work. They help professionals find greater meaning in their careers, lead happier, more satisfying lives, and instill lasting value through their work. For more information and resources visit: http://meaningfulcareers.com.