Why are we still holding on to the notion that we need to find our ‘calling’ and make a living doing that? It’s not attainable for the majority, and many of us will actually be just as happy doing a number of different jobs. We also need to move away from judging people based on what they do for work rather than their values.
Plan B is more than okay
In this recent episode of the podcast This American Life, Ira Glass discusses how common it is for our backup plan to become our life. Glass references the time he asked 100 audience members what they thought their life was going to be like when they started out in their careers, or what their plan A was? He then asked how many of them were still on plan A. The only person to raise her hand was a 23 year old woman – the youngest person in the room. Everyone else was onto plan B, C, D and so on.
It’s important not to feel bad if your current job was your plan B, C… or not planned at all. It’s normal. The majority of us aren’t doing what we set out to do when we first dreamed up our career. Maybe you missed out on plan A or it wasn’t what you thought it would be and you had the courage to recognise this.
You are not your job
As this SMH opinion piece by Téa Angelos states, we need to stop asking, ‘What do you do for work?’Angelos highlights that “while we often ask this question out of politeness or curiosity, it inadvertently places undue emphasis on a person’s job as the primary facet of their identity.The common practice of associating one’s identity with their profession goes beyond mere conversational habit. It’s a symptom of a deeper societal trend that equates professional success with self-worth.”
We should adjust our thinking so that we associate a person’s job as something they do, not who they are. Instead, look at the bigger picture of the individual; their values, passions, background and interests. These are a better metric for understanding them.
Live the life you want to
Instead of asking ourselves if our jobs feel in alignment with our identity, we should be asking ourselves ’does my job facilitate the lifestyle I want?’. For example, if you’re doing your plan A job but you’re working long hours for terrible pay, leaving you miserable, then you need to rethink it.
Rather than letting your job be your focus, think about the lifestyle that suits your values. If you’re a parent of small children and one of your values is spending time with them, then a stressful job that takes you away for long hours or regular overseas stints may not be serving you. If you want the security of your own home but your passion industry is poorly paid, you might want to look into how you can apply your skills in an industry that pays better.