I started working about a month after I took the bar. Give or take a few months, I have been earning a paycheck for about a decade and in those ten years, I have had my share of whining, company gossip and politics, tongue-lashing and a massive sense of entitlement. Looking back now, I really want to take my younger self aside for a serious talk and tell her (me) that contrary to what she believes, she isn't actually entitled to anything and that she should quit whining and should just buckle down and work. Whether or not younger me will actually listen to future me is another thing altogether though.
I now look at my job as a source of income that provides for myself and my family, while also funding the other aspects of my life that I derive enjoyment from (i.e. running and travelling). One of the most important lessons I picked up from "Your Money or Your Life" is that we have different jobs in life. We work at our jobs as partners, caregivers, friends and members of the community. We also have our jobs that feed our creativity and passion and a job that funds all our other jobs. It thus follows that the job that funds our other jobs should be able to do so with as little effort as possible and with maximum returns so that we can dedicate the needed time and attention to our other jobs.
But what if your job barely pays you enough to keep body and soul together, much less provide for your family? Then you look for another job or you develop skills that people will be willing to pay you the big bucks for. It's an oversimplification I know, but that's how it works.
Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs and Somebody's Gotta Do It sums it up perfectly:
"There's a long list of things that you can't control and on that list is available opportunities, available pay — all the normal things that are basically set by the employer... They're out of your control. The opportunities that exist in your zip code might be very different from the opportunities that exist across the country. So you have to focus on the things you can control when it comes to work."
The things in your control include where you decide to live, what skill you decide to pursue, and how hard you work.
"And that means you show up early, you stay late, you learn a skill that's actually in demand," Rowe said. "And then you just have to take a bite of the sh-- sandwich when it comes around, you know? You've got to volunteer for the scut work, and do it with a smile."
And more on Mike Rowe, how awesome is his career advice to a young fan? You can read it in full here, but this is my favorite part:
Stop looking for the “right” career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable. You can always quit later, and be no worse off than you are today. But don’t waste another year looking for a career that doesn’t exist. And most of all, stop worrying about your happiness. Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.
All these thoughts on jobs and careers are brought about by my fast upcoming state of joblessness since my boss' term of office will end on the 30th of this month. I have sent out resumes and have gone on several interviews, but there's nothing definite yet as of the moment, although there's one job that I'm favoring more than others and I'm crossing my fingers and praying hard that I get that.
Reading through Mike Rowe's advice I realize that most of it doesn't apply to me anymore. I have long learned that my happiness and self-worth are not dependent on my job, but more importantly, I can now afford the luxury of picking my next career step. My degree and experience have helped put me in this position, but the 3-4 months worth of expenses that I have stashed in the bank also give me the confidence to not jump on the first job offer that comes my way. But of course, when I take on my new position I will internalize Mike Rowe's wise words and show up early, stay late, volunteer for the scut work and become indispensable. You know, do the things expected of me as a government worker.
*Image from Discovery.com