OPINION: Define your own fulfillment in your career
If I had a dollar for every time somebody told me what my future career path looks like, I might actually be satisfied with my bank account balance.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for listening to advice, especially advice from professionals. However, I believe that one’s job doesn’t have to be one’s life.
The main purpose of attending college is to pursue a degree in a field you are interested in and to pursue a future career in that field. For me, that field is journalism.
I don’t throw the word ‘love’ around lightly, but I absolutely love to write.
Growing up, I was always a very strong writer, but didn’t quite know how to satisfy those who asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I can honestly say that up until junior year of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career. Of course, like many young men, I had the pipe dream of being a Major League Baseball player. But I soon realized that I just wasn’t good enough.
Then came the dream of being an architect. Growing up right outside of New York City, I’ve always been fascinated by the endless array of skyscrapers. I wanted to help build structures like those. This was until I realized I absolutely hate math. ‘Hate’ also isn’t a word I throw around lightly, and I try my hardest not to hate anything, but believe me when I tell you I hate math.
To make a long story short, I finally fell in love with writing, and decided to major in journalism when I came to Quinnipiac.
Whenever I tell someone I’m a journalism major, they love to tell me I’ll write for The New York Times or the Washington Post one day. Or I’m told I’ll be a TV news anchor. I know people that are still waiting for my future as a sports broadcaster.
Let me be clear: I’m very open to many different things. Maybe I will end up writing for a large, well-known newspaper one day. Or maybe I will gain a passion for being on TV. But for right now, I don’t want to think about where I’ll specifically be working. I don’t want to think about how much money I’ll make, and what I’ll be purchasing with that money.
I like to think about my future, but not so deeply that I make myself miserable. I don’t think it’s appropriate to have my heart set on one specific job in one specific place, only to not achieve that and become dejected because I didn’t.
This is precisely why I don’t like others planning out my future for me. I don’t like people telling others what they specifically need to do career-wise in order to live a fulfilling life.
Just look at the American workforce.
“Of the country’s approximately 100 million full-time employees, 51 percent aren’t engaged at work – meaning they feel no real connection to their jobs, and thus they tend to do the bare minimum,” according to a 2017 article written by CBS Moneywatch.
Now, granted, a lot of these people likely have jobs that they didn’t envision themselves having growing up. But somewhere in there are likely those who followed that path to fulfillment that others set out for them, only to end up disappointed anyway.
Think about it: If you dislike your job, even if that job is what you were supposedly destined to do in life, can you ever really succeed at it? How do you define success anyway?
I believe that to be truly successful in a career, you must be happy with what you are doing.
A 2017 Business News Daily article sums this sentiment up, stating, “Your job shouldn’t just be a source of income. If you don’t enjoy what you do, you’ll end up missing out on life.”
There are studies to suggest that there is a direct correlation between job satisfaction and wealth. Eighty-six percent of wealthy people liked their jobs, while seven percent loved their jobs, according to a 2015 study from Business Insider.
But there’s something that sticks out here. Eighty-six percent of the wealthy “liked” their jobs. That’s great. But only a small fraction – seven percent – actually “loved” their jobs. My point here is, why should we just settle for a job we ‘like’ (or one we don’t), rather than strive for a job we love?
When people ask me where I’ll be working one day, they usually end up perplexed when I respond, “Who knows?” This isn’t because I don’t have any career goals. I just prefer not to limit myself to one specific goal – and I don’t think anyone else should either. I want a job that I love, not one that other people love for me.
Fulfillment can be defined as the achievement of something desired, promised or predicted.
So why shouldn’t I be the one defining my desire? Why should I follow the promise set out for me instead of my own? Why not draw up my own prediction?
A job doesn’t guarantee satisfaction in life anyway. I, or anyone else for that matter, could land a wonderful job – maybe even the job we’ve always wanted – and still not be happy or feel complete.
To me, there are many other important factors in life besides a job itself.
Say, for example, I get offered two jobs: one that pays more, and is on the other side of the country, and one that pays slightly less, but allows me to be closer to my family. Which job do I take? I can tell you, money is great. I can also tell you that many people would call me foolish for taking less money. But money doesn’t mean everything. Personally, 10 times out of 10, I’ll take the job that pays slightly less in order to be closer to family.
While that may sound like a crazy move, my family is an extremely important part of my life. In fact, I’d say they are the most important part of my life they make me feel complete.
When I was coming out of high school, I was all about the money. Not to say that I didn’t care about my family or friends, but I loved the idea of working at a job that payed me a lot of money, regardless of where that job was. I didn’t even think about how far a job could take me away from what’s truly important to me.
Regardless of how high-paying a job is, how great of a location it is in or how prominent the company may be, there are other things in my life that mean so much more to me, even if my decisions based on these factors confuse or frustrate others.
Yes, I could end up at a huge publication or huge TV station and become a well-known journalist. Or I could work at a smaller publication, and lead just as satisfying a life. Who knows?
The one thing I do know for sure is this: Wherever I do end up, I want to do what’s best for me and my family. That’s what is really important to me, and everyone deserves to determine what is important to them in their lives. I’ve been told numerous times over the past few years that I can make so much more money working in broadcast journalism or that I’ll become more well-known, but that doesn’t matter to me if it takes me away from what makes me happy.
Is money important in life? You bet. Not to speak for everyone, but I have a feeling that the majority of people in the world would take $1 million if someone would hand it to them. But what if that $1 million takes you away from what’s really important to you – whatever that may be?
Over the last two years, I have came to the realization that I should be the only person determining fulfillment in my career. A job can throw all the money then want at me. But if that job doesn’t make me happy, why would I work there? I’ve learned to think of my life as a train-I am the conductor amd shouldn’t let my passengers drive the train for me.