What's the point of life? Even the least existential of us have pondered that question at least once in our lives. No one, however, has pondered it more than the people standing on the edge of the job they hate and the job they aren't sure exists.
Whether it's the graduate about to make the leap into the professional world or the woman who can't sit in her cubicle for one more hour, every day people are analyzing and obsessing over the relevancy of their careers.
If you think about it, it's not our hobbies and our passions that define us, but how we express those hobbies and passions. It's not what we do in our free time that represents who we are, but how we choose to make our free time the only real time that matters.
If our careers define us, then shouldn’t what you do be a reflection of who you are? Our profession is our identity, isn’t it? She’s a writer; he’s a banker. He’s a musician; she’s an accountant.
While there are many facets of who we are and what we do, it can take a lifetime, or at least multiple attempts at our career to figure out which one defines us best.
We all pay to live, and how you decide to create your currency, work for your living and pay your dues shape the kind of life you lead. Getting up in the morning hating your job can, many times, equate to hating your life. Few of us ever start out in our dream careers and even fewer make it there.
If you're bold enough, however, you will strive to find it. You will go through a myriad of bad jobs, wrong jobs and odd jobs to get to that career that finally defines you and your worth. Because life isn't about working to live, but living to work... And your work should be a composite of who you are and where you've been.
To figure out what you don’t want to do
Many times, we have an idea of what we want to do and that idea is shattered by the harsh light of the real world. Our first jobs are the ones that teach us that sometimes our dreams don’t align with reality.
What we thought we wanted isn’t the same as what we got. Or maybe, what our parents wanted for us is no longer enough. That path that was forged by everyone else is finally treaded and it only takes a few steps to realize it’s not that path we’re willing to take.
That first job, that first attempt at finding ourselves and our careers is crucial in a way we don’t realize. Just because you don’t like the job, just because you quit it or didn’t make it, doesn’t mean it was a waste.
That first job was an important step because figuring out what you don’t want to do can be as important as figuring out what you do want to do.
To realize how important money is to you
The second career is about the money. We figure if we can't find our dream job, we may as well find our dream salary. We work at jobs we despise, hoping the money will lessen the sting. We figure if we can get through five or 10 years of grueling work and come out rich, it will be worth it in the end.
Unfortunately, by the end of the first year, we realize that all the money in the world doesn't make up for the misery of work we hate.
All the money in the world doesn't replace the passion and drive that so many of us need to get out of bed every morning. When you figure out that the money is never worth it, you realize you don't actually need it.
To find your passion
Your third job is about finding your path. It’s about choosing something that interests you and starting at the bottom. It’s not about the prestige or the salary, but paying your dues. This job is about starting all over again.
Whether it's an internship, an entry-level position or your own company started in the basement of your parents' house, it's about humbling yourself for the sake of your passion.
It's that pivotal point that makes you decide if the long road ahead of you is worth it. Because without the long hours, grueling schedules and thankless tasks, you won’t realize how important that dream really is.
To get an idea of where you're going
This is the experience job. You're not at your dream career, but you're building at the right template for it. You have figured out what you love through countless internships, entry-level positions or time spent traveling the world and clearing your mind and now you're making headway toward that goal.
You're working in an industry you respect and are proud to be part of.
You may not have your dream job yet, but you are on the right path. You are forging connections and experiences and learning how to navigate towards the one thing you know will make you happy on that 9-to-5 grind.
To make a job into a career
The last job you have won't be a job. It will be proof of your existence, your reason for living and the career that defines you. It will be an expression of yourself and your passions. It won't be about the money, fame or the respect, but the love it gives back to you.
Like finally finding that person you're ready to settle down with and call your own, it will be a relationship that's built off years of hard work and trust. It will be special because you built it, you sacrificed for it and you defined it as your own. Because it's not just your livelihood, it's your life.