Pam Gross: Finding Good Work
Having worked in the “career biz” for the last quarter century, I have taught and coached literally thousands of people in their quests for meaningful work. These are mostly bright, savvy, already successful people who have had a worklife in which they showed up, made money, took care of themselves and their families, and maintained a solid middle-class lifestyle. These are society’s models of achievement. And yet…
For most there is a yearning along the lines of Sinetar’s “do what you love and money will follow.” Or Gibran’s “work is love made visible.” However, work and love in the same sentence seems not only unfathomable, but very scary to contemplate. And, it is in the contemplating that we go awry: we think and think and think and think ourselves in circles. Then we try to make career decisions from the staleness of our brains which, when you get down to it, know nothing about the world of work except for the industries or companies or job titles we have experienced. We are ignorant of all the rest.
Paradoxically, we make better-informed decisions on the things we buy—houses, cars, boats, refrigerators, computers, where we send our kids to school and what Italian restaurant to patronize—than we ever do on career decisions. This is because we are willing to do the necessary work to ensure we spend our money wisely: kick tires, discuss RAM, compare engines and horsepower, go see the differences in freezer space, confer on the curriculum and try the linguini in the new restaurant.
However, it seems that it is just too time consuming, too damn hard to do the work of finding fulfilling work. It’s not that fulfilling work isn’t out there. It abounds! The reality is that finding it lies not in thinking, but in doing. The real issue is whether or not you are willing to put yourself on the path to discover it. And stay on the path until you do.
Are you willing to get out of the house—and out of your ignorance—by discussing, comparing, conferring, going to see people and trying new things related to your interests? Are you willing to go about finding work as though you were committed to getting the best buy?
Because in making a career decision you are spending something much more precious than dollars: you are deciding where you will spend half of your life. Each day you work you are spending your waking hours using your skills, relating to co-workers, sharing work and personal experiences in a specific environment. Your work will be fulfilling only when you find the right environment, the right people and you are using the skills you want to use on a daily basis. It is highly unlikely that you will fall into this work. Indeed, you must work to find it.
Copyright © 2005, Exploring Careers in Gerontology. All rights reserved.