“I’m 32 and have been working at the same job since I graduated 10 years ago. I make a good income and have good benefits. The problem is I’m not really happy going to work.
I talk to my friends who all seem to love their jobs and that makes me even more unhappy. I took an online class called ‘Finding Your Bliss’. In three hours it all boiled down to ‘do what you love and the money will follow’. I have some ideas, but there has to be more to it than just taking a leap into the abyss.
My wife knows I’m unhappy and will support me whatever I decide to do. She’s the one that said I should check with you (no pressure). So, o wise one, what should I do?”
You married one very smart woman. So start with the fact that you are a very lucky man.
‘Do what you love and the money will follow’ is one of the top urban myths of the entitled generation. If your developmental years were filled with participation trophies it is reasonable that you expect to get paid for doing whatever you wish. Whatever . . . The real world, however, does not (usually) work that way.
Like many myths, this one does contain a kernel of truth. Doing what you love (or at least enjoy) is one of life’s greatest blessings. I can honestly say I haven’t worked more than a few months – total – in my life. I have been blessed with a career that I simply love. How can it be work if it’s this much fun? So loving your work is part of this equation.
I think the second part is providing a product or a service that someone actually needs. You might be the very best buggy whip maker in America. Assuming you even know what a buggy whip is – how many Americans need a buggy whip? Of course, with today’s technology, you are not limited to what Americans need. In fact, the world is only interested in one thing. What do you have to offer that will make their lives better?
If you can provide products or services that are needed anywhere on the globe you may well be onto to something.
And (I was about to say ‘obviously’, but I would have been misusing the word) you should be producing something people are willing to pay you for. Interestingly, the internet has made the getting paid part much easier than it was just a generation ago. For example, the number of people in your town interested in custom wrought iron products might be quite small. The number of people around the world interested in custom wrought iron products might well be far more than enough to support a wonderful career. The logistics of finding, serving, getting products or services to, and getting paid by people around the world are easier, simpler, and cheaper than at any time in history.
Before you get too far down the rabbit hole exploring new opportunities, take a very careful look at your current job. You might very well find that – with a few adjustments – you could be very happy right where you are. Don’t assume that there’s no solution within your company. If you’re willing to take the leap into the abyss, take the time and effort to explore what might be done to make your current job (or some variation on that theme) one that you could love.
One last bit of advice – don’t wait. You have 30 or more years of working life ahead of you. If you do nothing, you’re condemning yourself to work-life purgatory. If you make finding a career that makes you happy a priority you might find that you won’t want to stop the fun when you’re ‘only’ 65. After all, why would you want to retire if you’re doing what you love?
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