I’m currently reading a book called How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric, which is part of the School of Life series.
I bought this during my search for a job and while trying to figure out what to do job-wise.
I liked Krznaric straight away when he argued for the case of ‘wide achievers’ that is people who don’t just start of doing one job and then do if for the rest of their lives, but rather they have a lot of careers at once or become serial specialists in different things. Having been a bit of a job hopper myself, it’s made me feel slightly better that I’ve tried different careers and I am hopefully hopping closer and closer to the job that I enjoy doing the most.
“Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, therein lies your vocation.” Aristotle
I thought about what my talents were – communication and writing – and what the needs of the world are and so figured as journalism is dying out, my most ideal job must be working in marketing and communications, promoting something useful and meaningful. Having got a job in the marketing department of a big charity, I feel that I am getting closer to my chosen field of work.
“The thought once occurred to me that if one wanted to crush and destroy a man entirely, to mete out to him the most terrible punishment, one at which the most fearsome murderer would tremble, shrinking from it in advance, all one would have to do would be to make him do work that was completely and utterly devoid of usefulness and meaning”
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky
In the past, people did what they had to survive and didn’t expect their work to fulfil them and be meaningful as well. But now, with so many career choices we practically have too much choice in what we could do, with so many areas of work that a student has usually no idea of when they’re starting or even leaving college. Whereas our ancestors usually did what their fathers did before them, we can now choose to do whatever we want.
Psychologist Barry Schwartz says that although a life without choice is almost unbearable, we can reach a tipping point where having an abundance of options becomes an overload. “At this point, choice no longer liberates but debilitates.”
Krznaric then writes about the five things that motivate people in their jobs which are earning money, achieving status, making a difference, following our passions and using our talents.
The first two – money and status apparently don’t give us enough satisfaction and leave us wanting more. When our basic needs are met, more money doesn’t make us happier. Status also is an illusive goal, because as we reach one status level, there is always another one above it.
“CS Lewis identified the problem when he said that most of us desire to be a member of an ‘inner ring’ of esteemed important people, but we ‘will reach no “inside” that is worth reaching’ since there are always more rings within it.”
So the lesson from the book seems to be – do a job that makes a difference, follow your passions and use your talents or if you’re lucky all at the same time. Don’t care what people think about your job, don’t care about your status or money but do what most fulfils YOU the most.