For most of my life I have entangled life’s meaning and self-worth with what I did to earn a living. I put a lot of pressure on my jobs and earnings to both compensate me for my effort and provide fulfillment.
I’m not exactly sure where these beliefs came from, culture or upbringing, they are there and I’m realizing more and more that they need to be challenged.
Human beings are dynamic and multi-dimensional. We derive meaning from many sources and often that meaning does not come from our employment—which is entirely “ok.” Now this isn’t to say that you should settle for any job because meaning cannot be found in a job. Rather, I believe that jobs can offer a high degree of fulfillment and self-expression and that it is our duty to find employment that has the best fit for us from a fulfillment and compensation standpoint.
That said, we all have many passions that may not be served in one career for a lifetime or within your employment. The great thing about the employment world we live in now is that we can change our jobs and even careers several times in life to find more of what we love.
Each change of your job brings to light new facets of your personality and interests you didn’t know you had before. To be masterfully cliché, if you begin to look at your career as a series of adventures along the journey to growing your net and self-worth, instead of arriving at a “perfect job” destination, it can actually be exciting.
I started my career in Sales at Philip Morris USA. I had an interest in marketing and selling to smaller independent retailers, but if I’m being perfectly honest—I wanted to make money:) From this job I learned I really do like helping small businesses succeed and that I do not like selling a product that doesn’t get me excited (cigarettes) or working with large retailers where all the decision making was out of a store manager’s control.
After my short year and a half stint in sales, I left that job to explore my interests in retail and growing businesses from the top (the corporate side) rather than inside a store. It just so happened that I lived down the street from Target Corporation and they were willing to give me a chance. There I learned how to analyze the hell out of a plan-o-gram to maximize sales and how to turn inventory more quickly and profitably.
Even typing out inventory turn makes me bored….so you guessed it—that wasn’t my calling. However, I did love working with buyers to find the right mix of product and the financial aspect of the job. I also had the chance to train a few people while I was at Target, which led to a new interest, people development.
At Target I encountered many people trying to get somewhere else within or outside of the company. Given that most of the population I worked with was (well) under 35, many were going through quarter-life crisis’s and I LOVED to help them see another way and find their place. This led me to my next epiphany—I must work in HR so I can have these conversations every day and get paid for it.
Low and behold after a year and a half in grad school, I was an HR Manager at Procter and Gamble and had those very daily conversations. It was really amazing to discuss people’s futures with them and what they needed to work on to get to their destination. Working in HR, I knew I was closer to my calling and that I did indeed love to work in a field, primarily based on people development.
Of course that was not my destination because I wouldn’t be writing this meandering blog entry if it was:) Working in Human Resources I realized that once again I had come to a place where decision making was largely outside of my control, for many factors, the primary one being the sheer size of the company. It was time for another interest to be explored, entrepreneurship, with a personal development twist.
Thirteen years of employment have led me to this current state as a life and biz coach. I loved all the exploring, the heartaches and lessons learned, I could have done without, but the experience would have lost its richness if I had.
I share my story as an inspiration to find your own passion(s) and to grow in your understanding that it may not all me linear. My challenge to you is to explore one new interest in or outside of work and reflect on how that interest can lead to a richer employment experience.