“Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.”
This quote has been attributed to Confucius, which I thought was pretty post-modern of him. He was a smart guy, but I think he had it all wrong.
I was pondering this quote on a day when I was doing things I loved. I slept in late, which is a true luxury; I read (while still in bed mind you!) a variety of articles and a section of a book I am truly enjoying, all the while drinking the my favorite elixir, coffee. After these lovely activities, I forced myself to be disciplined and get some things done. Things that admittedly, I don’t love doing as much as my early morning luxuries. When I turned my mind and heart to these other things, I noticed something: What I love doing, while enjoyable, has little lasting appeal. I couldn’t do it every day. In fact, I’m not sure I could do it two days in a row! Even if someone paid me to do it! There is no challenge, so satisfaction.
Well, that got me thinking about the above quote as career advice or even advice about choosing a college major. I talk to hundreds of students in a year about what they want to do when they grow up. (I also talk to about as many middle-aged parents about this same thing in their lives, but that’s a different story). In these conversations, one thing has become clear. People hate work. Look at your friends’ Facebook posts and you will read more about why they don’t want to do their job than why they do. Career coaches, consultants, advisors, mentors, and managers all report that dissatisfaction in one’s job is the number one reason for career change. Makes sense I guess. Most students I work with cannot imagine a life behind a desk, or in a cubicle, but the vast majority of them will end up there, and apparently will hate it.
Is it just me, or have we lost our way a bit? A favorite scripture verse of mine is Ecclesiastes 5:18. It is after Solomon reviews man working and gaining riches, which he calls “meaningless.”
“Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him-for this is his lot.”
Here is the key idea: find satisfaction. Notice Solomon said that man’s labor would be toilsome, and under the sun. It doesn’t sound like fun to me, it sounds like WORK! How can you find satisfaction in toilsome labor? By growing up and looking for it! When I ask students, “Who is allowed to do whatever they want all day long?” they agree only newborn babies do. Everyone else has to grow up and do things they don’t want to do. Even people who do what they love, have to do what they don’t love sometimes. Who enjoys doing what they don’t love? People who can find satisfaction in doing it.
So, instead of searching for a job, or major, you LOVE, search for a job in which you can find satisfaction. There are many more of those available.