The other day I was talking to a friend about her promotion at work. She was brilliant at her job, an idea person who constantly gave the best of herself, working weekends and collaborating with the entire staff. And so, as it goes with people who go the extra mile, she was noticed and promoted to a higher position… a more managerial position. She was paid more, had a fancier office, and a prestigious title.
Which was fun at first.
But slowly, she realized she was doing a job she hated. She found herself procrastinating at every turn. Her energy levels tanked and instead of working long into the night on projects she felt passionate about, she tried hard to do the slogging work of a manager. She found herself avoiding it at every turn, making excuses when she couldn’t meet deadlines. Plus, she got sick. Often. She began to worry that her lack of enthusiasm would eventually be noticed and she’d be fired. One day as we talked about this over coffee, I asked her why she didn’t do her job as quickly as possible, get it out of the way, and then work on the things she truly loved. She said she tried to, but the new job sapped her drive and motivation until she had nothing left to give.
Her words were an important reminder. Doing a job we feel excited about fills us with energy, enthusiasm, and a reason to get up in the morning. A job we dread has just the opposite effect.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with making money. Money is necessary to meet our needs. But we tend to be more successful at jobs we enjoy. We spend most of our waking hours at work, so it makes sense to do something we actually like doing most of the time.
This is why we should encourage our kids to search for work they love even if it seems to be less of a “money making” choice, even if it lacks prestige. Even if, in the eyes of society, it doesn’t meet the criteria for “success.” I know that parents often urge their children to study for a career that will guarantee them a good job and a solid income. It’s a safety net, and what parent doesn’t want their child will do well and be safe? But unfortunately, this is short-sighted. What good is safety when people dread their jobs and Monday mornings depress them? How much is a great salary worth, when no matter what they buy, they never feel truly happy? Is this what we want for our kids?