Monday, August 24, 2009

Finding the Perfect Job is Hard Work

I have decided that finding the perfect job is hard work. On the flipside, finding any old job would probably be easy. I guess the question is just how hard I'm willing to work to find that elusive magic pay cheque.

Ah... the magic pay cheque. The one that's big enough to pay all your bills PLUS purchase all of your needed and unnecessary goods. The one that's big enough for you to save to buy a house, save for retirement, and even save for a relaxing or exciting vacation. Yes, THAT magic pay cheque.

I want it.

To be truthful, I used to have a magic paycheque before I was laid off. Well, it was close anyways; I was saving for retirement, saving for vacation, and I could buy things I wanted as long as I didn't spend too crazily, and spaced out my purchases. No, I couldn't buy a car, and I couldn't afford a house, but I could afford a bus pass and rent and that was close enough.

But it wasn't the perfect job.

I wasn't really happy with that job. After almost five years of working at it, I could probably do my job in my sleep and I was getting awfully bored. There was nothing really new to it, and I couldn't really envision a future with it. I guess it just didn't inspire me. So I did a good job each day, put in a little extra effort, and would go home at night wondering why I'd just wasted a whole day doing something that wasn't making a difference in the world. I just couldn't find meaning in my work.

I'm reading a book now called I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This, and it's really helping me. You should read it too if that title calls to you, like it called to me. "Eureka!" I thought, "That's EXACTLY how I feel right now!"

The book is a step-by-step guide to finding gratifying work, and it's written by Julie Jansen. Julie has made five career changes in her life in order to find work that really fulfills and satisfies her personal and professional needs. Now she coaches and consults to individuals and companies, helping them to be successful in their work.

The book helps you to determine what kind of work situation you are in right now. It then moves into finding out where you want to be, by examining your values, attitudes, and change readiness. There are lots of handy-dandy tests to help you figure this out. When I narrowed down my values to my top ten, and compared it with my ex-job, I discovered why I wasn't happy there- my values didn't match my job. So, now that I'm looking for a new job, I have to keep my top ten values in mind to make sure that there is room there for me to be happy.

The book then examines your personality prefences, your interests, and your favourite skills. I found favourite skills to be an interesting idea since I have a lot of skills. The book wants to know what your favourite ones are because you might have a lot of skills, but you might only want to use a few of them- and it's true! I DO have some skills that I'd rather not use! Hehehe...

After all these tests to find out more about yourself, the book talks about how to get there to that elusive gratifying job. I can't tell you about this section and the rest of the book because I haven't read to that part yet. Instead, I took a break to read Eat, Pray, Love, One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. This is also an interesting book, and more of a personal revelation of her struggles to find meaning in her life and to make sense of her personal desire to pursue things different from the ordinary expectations of a woman.

So in the midst of all this reading, I still need to apply for jobs and think about what I really want to do next. There's also laundry, watering the plants, feeding the fish, and other menial chores in between. I've been spending more time with friends, meeting up with out-of-town visitors, and trying to do some good to make up for lost time spent making a magic paycheque instead of being useful to humanity. For once in my life, I feel calm inside. There's still a lot going on, but I feel like I can finally change gears and make the pieces of me line up with the pieces of what's around me.

For the character in Eat, Pray, Love that moment of epiphany and harmony was followed by a gauntlet of unpleasant experiences and suffering. I hope that I won't have to go through the same, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised if I'm thrown a curve ball. Life's funny like that. "Hee hee hee, let's see how we can mess up her life now!"
But I have hope now that I didn't have before. I think good things are happening, and I'm working towards taking better control of my life and my situation. If I can find out more about who I am and what motivates me, then I can find satisfying work that will be meaningful to me. I would like to have a meaningful life, and not necessarily by anyone else's measurement. I'd simply like to feel good about myself and what I've done with my life by the time I die. I don't think that's too much to ask.

What do you think? How important is meaningful work and a meaningful life to you? Or is the magic paycheque enough?


EllaPhante said...

Very interesting post. I should read that book...because to me- that magic paycheck is not what its all about. I've always said I'd rather live in a box and be able to do what I love (and make just enough money to eat) than to be rich and well off in every way but spending the majority of my waking hours working away at something I hated. Why waste your life being unhappy? for money?When will you have the time to spend it if you're always working?

But then, we have my(and many other artists) current conundrum...what do you do when doing only what you love means 'the ends' just won't meet?

as I said...very thought provoking post.

Chickenbells said...

This is definitely pause for thought isn't it? I see a lot of unhappy unfulfilled people moving around zombie like...wishing they had other people's life or job. Sometimes I do that as well. I think it's part of being human. But, the idea that you can have a fulfilling life to YOUR standards and values? That is a beautiful thing...I'm so happy that you're figuring this out and willing to share...

Anonymous said...

Hi Just stumbled across your blog. I have often talked to my Mum about this subject - many hours in fact.

She says to me there is no perfect job. And yet she's a very optimistic person. I think to some extent she's right. I started my business around 4 years ago and thought - aha! Finally now I get to do what i want to do. But then slowly, the administration, the accounts, the dealing with things that don't go according to plan start to happen, all of which for a creative person can be somewhat annoying/hampering/boring! Then of course there are all the successes and good things which are great too but it's a bit of both, you never get all of one and none of the other.

And the pefect paycheck - well that would surely be the winning lottery ticket :)

I think there are jobs we are better suited to so it's worthwhile finding something which you enjoy doing and gives you a sense of worth. But I think other facets of your life have to fill in the other areas as work can never be the be all and end all.

I really hope you find the right connections soon to something that will keep you interested and paid well enough to feel fulfilled/satisfied. The perfect job! - it's not easy!!!

SarahSundance said...

I don't know why it put me as anonymous. I have nothing to hide! Must be my dodo typing skills!

EmbellishYourself said...

I am definitely going to check this book out. I was recently laid off too and it's a little intimidating having to look for a new job when I really didn't want to leave my old one. I also want to add that I really enjoy your blog, it's very fun. I am now off to read about your layoff song! That's the post I was looking for when I stopped to read this one :)