Rarely does a day go by that people don’t talk to me about their jobs. The best motivation for work is happiness and fulfillment, and though that fulfillment might not happen all at once, the activity should be productive, and your life should be better for having done the work. Motivation can range from doing what you like for a modest hourly wage all the way to a lucrative career. But no matter who signs your paycheck, always work in your own self-interest.
In that sense, all employment is self-employment. Though it might take a while to find the right job, the key to avoiding resentment is to take command of your life and make your job a means to an end – the “end” being something that makes you happy. If you feel like you’re going nowhere, you can make it a stepping stone to something better.
Finding rewarding work can be a challenge. You want (and probably need) the paycheck, and the work may be tolerable, but that’s about it. If that sounds familiar, now’s the time to start planning and building something more rewarding. Just as people sometimes take a second job for extra money, your “second job” can start as something that has the potential to be more fulfilling. And if it earns money, all the better! It could even lead to a career change.
Many people who find change difficult can often suffer the most in their occupations. Even if you’re a professional, and no matter how much time and money you put into training, if you hate your profession then you owe it to yourself to start assembling an exit strategy. If you don’t at least try to develop an alternative plan, then you’re sentencing yourself to a life of unhappiness. And it’s nobody’s fault but your own.
Change by itself is neither good nor bad. It all depends on the circumstances. If you avoid change simply because it is change, then you’re denying yourself the opportunity for growth. Like it or not, life is not static. Physical and emotional change happens every day, with or without your consent. So why not use it to your advantage?
You might be thinking, “Well, that might be good for some people, but I have to get my paycheck every week. I don’t have time for anything else. And what about my paid vacation and insurance?” Or, “I went to law school for three years! I hate it, but what about all that time and money?” These traps are easy to fall into, but you have to look at the big picture. There’s got to be more to life than those three years in school or the daily trudge to a job that makes you miserable.
If you feel trapped, start planning your exit strategy. Think about moving yourself toward where you’d really like to be. Demystify it by making the details concrete and real. Be sure to evaluate your emotions along the way, i.e., “What if my plan works and I get the job I want. How do I feel about it?” If you’ve been realistic, then the prospect of making the change will bring you a sense of happy anticipation. If you’re afraid that your plan won’t work, then what’s the worst that can happen? You stay where you are until you think of something better. Change can’t be wrong if it makes your life more fulfilling.
No matter what you do, work for your own benefit. Be at peace with the changes required to make it happen. An attitude of self-employment can help you embrace the modifications you might never have made otherwise. The saying, “Do what you love, and the money will follow” makes total sense, because you’re at your happiest when you’re doing what you love. There’s no better goal than that.