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?