Your heart knows that finding meaningful work is possible, but your head is filled with dime advice about how to get there. Let’s get you grounded in some truths.
If you think this is going to be a blog about how to improve your LinkedIn profile, you’re wrong. We’re going to get into the cultural assumptions that are underlying your thoughts and choices around your career and are keeping you from finding truly meaningful work.
Truth #1: Most meaningful careers aren’t linear.
I know! Parents, Teachers, Education system has programmed you to think in terms of 1, 2, 3 and A, B, C. Twists and turns and normal. The right twist and turn from what you THOUGHT was going to be your path can land you someplace unexpected and beautiful.
Truth #2: You don’t need to find your calling.
I mean, what a relief! It’s right there in the name. Calling. It calls you; you don’t need to go out and find it. And even if you did have a calling, callings don’t always make great careers. They are not synonyms.
Truth #3 There are no career soul-mates.
There is no pre-destined, cosmically ordained, one ring to rule them, a perfect fit career that is the capital M “meant” for you or you were “born to do.”
You are never going to convince me that your soul’s mission is to be a Facebook Ads Manager, Director of Development, or Data Analyst, and that if you don’t figure it out or you missed the one that got away, you are doomed to a life of misery.
When you’re adrift, the fantasy is that the is ONE definitive answer. There is some sign. There is some outside source, some authority, that can tell you what it is and what to do so you can be out of the misery of not knowing.
But the choice needs to come from you. And if it comes from you, it will stay with you. Learn to choose.
Truth #4: Passion does not guarantee income.
Do what you love and the money MIGHT come. But it’s not a guarantee. You loving what you do does not mean that it’s valuable to other people, or that your passion and the earnest intent of your heart will bend the will of the universe for you to succeed.
That’s because your career is not just about YOU. It’s relational, and what you do has to be valuable to someone else.
Truth #5: Effort does not guarantee income or success.
I know, I know. We were taught that it’s a meritocracy, and if you want to succeed you just need to try harder, get smarter, and prove yourself.
If you have ever had the experience of working your hardest only to be “rewarded” with more work/more tasks but not more money/recognition/power/support, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
The antidote is not to be lazy and quit trying. But we have to stop trying to solve the problems of organizations and managers with the bone-grinding of individual workers.
This is also true in entrepreneurship. Putting in a lot of effort does not mean you will make a lot of money.
If you believe this cultural message that working harder is the answer, you may work harder at all the wrong things in all the wrong places for all the wrong people and have nothing but more hard work to show for it.
But here’s a bonus truth #6 about finding meaningful work that I want to share:
Truth #6: Having a choice in our careers is a privilege we take for granted.
We live in a time and place where we have the ability to choose our careers.
And YES capitalism. YES systemic oppression. We don’t all have access to the same choices. AND we still have some degree of choice and self-determination within these systems.
So what are we choosing? What are the options and choices we DO have that we are taking for granted, that we are ignoring, that we are not making the most of?
Use the choice you DO have.