Much heartbreak and many self-help books address career choice. We expect more from our work than ever before in human history, and many of us are disappointed.
Each of the following is a real quote; I have listened to good people that I cared about say each one. Each one could have been developed into A Tale, but I’m grouping them today.
- “The jobs I really loved only served to put me in debt.”
- “I made a lot of money, but it just about killed my soul; lost my marriage, and I’m just now getting re‑connected with my kids.”
- “Well, it pays for health insurance, and keeps a roof over my head. But that’s about it.”
- “You don’t have to put up with that treatment! Just quit! You can do better than that; tell the jerk to shove it!”
- “It’s my ministry; I feel called to it, no matter what.”
The Tale(s) Wagged
You and I have watched people stay too long at a job and become deeply wounded. Others have left good positions impulsively, jumped out of the frying pan only to be burned badly in the fire.
Personally, I remember hours spent taking personality inventories, trying to find A Calling of some kind. I especially envied people who seemed satisfied while making lots of money. I envied others who just seemed to be having fun with their careers, even if they weren’t really making ends meet.
I was more fortunate than many: I had several periods when my work was fulfilling, but changes in management, market conditions or personal requirements could dash my utopia to the ground. To this day, I still get scared when I watch people in libraries poring over the jobs sections in the classifieds, taking notes, reading books about resumés; it’s quite painful for me to remember those times.
I’m not sure I learned much from all this. I seemed to have approached work almost as a religion, expecting it to give me a deep sense of worth. I was also seduced by materialism, grasping for luxuries of various kinds. Between the two demands, I could seldom live with balance, seldom hear my inner self.
I’m retired now. I’m privileged and I know it and, frankly, I kinda don’t know how it all happened.