I'm a Millennial. I have the 90's kid nostalgia and was the generation that grew up while the internet was changing the world. I also grew up with parents that had the traditional work life. You know the one I'm talking about; the Solid 50 Hour Work Week - Complete Loyalty to the Company - Not Sure What Purpose I Have - Only Look Forward to the Weekends - Hate Every Monday Career. Okay, that may be too cynical and I'm forever grateful for the sacrifices my parents made for me, but seeing the majority of the workforce dreading the coming Monday through Friday year after year made a huge impression on me and my generation.
"Mondays are fine. It's your life that sucks."
- Ricky Gervais
In response to this grim outlook on our careers, we became determined to find jobs that had meaning, paid well, and fulfilled us. We were told the magic formula for finding this perfect job was simple: just find what you're deeply passionate about and make a career out of it! Or the slightly different: make a job out of what you would do for free! Simply take your hobby and transform it into your career because that means you will be doing what makes you happy all the time! It's so easy even a caveman can do it! Well... that is if they weren't so busy trying to, you know, survive and all.
So we ended up on this massive search for this elusive career that will somehow fulfill us and give meaning to our lives. We became a generation searching for a job like it was our soulmate. And if we hadn't found it we were either not trying hard enough or even worse did not deserve it.
What was never explained to us was the fact that those jobs that completely fulfill us do not exist. Nor should there be one. Like searching for a soulmate - there should not be one thing whether it is a job or a relationship or a hobby that completely gives your life meaning and purpose.
When it comes to careers, the phrase "Find your Passion" has always grated on my nerves. Putting aside the privilege that that statement invokes for the moment, there is NOTHING I love enough to do 40+ hours a week and make a living out of. It is unrealistic to assume there are one or two or even three things on this planet that I will be so passionate about that I will want to spend literally a majority of my life working on. The hobbies that I have I love so much for the fact that they are not work. The moment they become a job they become something that gives me less and less pleasure. On top of all of this, unfortunately, I do not have the privilege to not be making money. There are bills to pay and while I wish we could all be on a floating pink flamingo in St. Lucia contemplating our passions, I also like to eat which means having a job right now that gives me money.
Even though all the above statements are true, my point is not for you to give up and hate 5 out of 7 days of the week for the rest of your lives due to your job. To get to where you want to be in your career whether it is to be financially secure, find more meaning, or just simply enjoy, you are going to have to change your mindset.
Stop looking for passion and start looking at your values.
A job is not going to completely fulfill you, but it can give your life more meaning and joy. To start this process you first have to look to your values. These values are going to be your road map to finding a career that you want. Have you sat down and contemplated what your core values are? How did you get them? Are they really your values, or are they ones family, friends, or culture has put on you? Take some time and explore how you approach you life and what gives meaning to it. Hire a professional to help you sort these out and discover where these values came from and how much they are impacting your life. Then it becomes an exploration of what careers or jobs both help or hinder you from living within those values.
Let me use myself as an example. A big value of mine is Time. I'm a person who would rather have more vacation days and less pay rather than vice versa (although let's be honest the best version is high pay and lots of vacations but like soulmates those jobs are a question of existence!). It became evident early in my adult life that I want to have control over my work schedule and not work a traditional 40+ hour work week stuck at an office. This led me to look for careers outside of corporate or agency work. Another value of mine is Variety. Like mentioned above there is no one thing I am going to love doing for hours and hours of the week. My career outlook needs to have flexibility of content and environment as well as allow me to explore other avenues of business.
The good news is that the number of values out there is limitless! This means that even if you don't think you have strong values now, my bet is that after some soul searching you'll find a few even if they are a bit unconventional! It's a matter of self discovery and awareness.
One last thing...
One of the first things I always tell my clients is that there is no reason why you can't have a job that pays the bills and work on the career you want on the side. Most of us have to have side hustles anyways these days so why not work towards something that will give you more joy in the long run. It's not always fun and yes you'll get tired, but the alternative is either staying in a career you hate for the rest of your days or possibly ending up in financial issues by putting all your eggs in one basket. However, keep a different mindset about your "Pay the Bills" job. Set solid boundaries on how much you are going to let it rule and define your life. This doesn't mean that you won't do your job and do it well. However, it is okay to simply do what you are paid to do and leave it at that. Put more of your energy and mind to your long term goals.