Life Lessons in the Real World

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Choose Your Medium — Synergy Step 3

bigjob.jpgDo you hate your job? Do your tasks feel pointless? Do you feel a strange hunger to do something different with your career? If so, this article is for you. This is the fifth installment in our six part series on living a synergistic life.

If synergy is a new topic to you, check out the list of articles at the bottom of the page before proceeding.

Choose Your Medium

Put simply, your medium is your job title, the context-specific application of your life’s work. If you long for fulfillment and purpose, find a job that matters to you.

Several years ago, I had a heart to heart conversation with a good friend of mine regarding the meaning of life. My friend, jaded by a lifetime of unsatisfying jobs, said, “John, all work is unpleasant. Otherwise, they wouldn’t call it work. I work to pay bills, and that’s the only reason anyone works.”

According to my friend, his job did not define him; it was simply a means of paying for things. Unfortunately, the mindset that work is merely an unpleasant necessity is all too common.

On a Friday afternoon, when the office was still and quiet, I walked up to my friend’s cubical and revived our earlier conversation by saying, “Listen, I’ve been thinking about what you said the other day, about your job not defining you.”

He looked up, scratching his forehead. “And?”

“And I think you’re wrong,” I said. “Any job you do for 40 or 50 hours a week defines you, whether you like it or not.”

He pushed his stack of work aside, rolled closer to me in his chair, and said, “I am a father, husband, and loyal friend. I am not just an employee.”

I pulled a sheet of paper out of my pocket, unfolded it, and put it on his desk. The paper contained my previous evening’s musings, a bulleted list detailing how my job required me to budget my time throughout the week. Over the course of a 5-day workweek, I spent 50 hours at work, 13 hours driving back and forth, 5 hours getting ready, and 2 hours on work-related shopping. On top of that, I spent 40 hours sleeping. Do you know how much time that left to be something other than an employee? 10 hours. 87% of my waking hours were spent in servitude.

My friend looked at my piece of paper. He seemed impressed (and possibly annoyed) that I would take the time to document my time expenditures. “Well, you can use your time however you like on the weekends.”

But if you’re living for the weekend, you’re dead the rest of the week.

Your Message and Mid Life Crisis

We get older. We grow up. We develop opinions based on our experiences. Eventually, those opinions conspire to form a message deep within our psyche, and the hunger to follow our message can be insatiable. We look around at our jobs and ask ourselves, “Why am I here?” Over time, we begin to recognize the gap between our daily activities and our internal motivations. We leave our old jobs and find new ones.

To outsiders, our plight looks strange, of our own making. People say we are having a Mid Life Crisis. Maybe they’re right. But at the end of the day, the only people who have to live with your decisions are you and your family. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. Do what’s right for you.

Finding the Right Job

Take out a sheet of paper and write down the top 5 job titles you would seek if you knew you would succeed. With no risk of failure, what would you choose to do?

Review your list of 5 dream jobs. Does one stand out as a more obvious medium for your life message? Is one more closely aligned with your skills and aptitudes?

If you choose a job that aligns with your strengths (and you should), the transition will be easier. A functional resume is the career-changer’s best friend: simply find a way to convince employers that your previous experiences have prepared you for a new challenge.

If your new job requires training or certification, write down the steps required to obtain whatever you need, including tuition, books, transportation, and research. Create a plan. Then work it.

Your dream job is right around the corner.

Square Peg in a Round Hole

Another one of my good friends (we’ll call him Bob) always wanted to be a preacher. In Christian circles, this is known as a calling, and he’d felt it his entire life. But instead of finding a way to make a living as a preacher, Bob continued working at car dealerships, preaching to anyone who would listen. Bob’s boss was aggravated by his preaching and found it unprofessional. Most of his co-workers didn’t appreciate it either. His life message kept finding a way to break out from within him, but since he had not chosen the right career, he did not have any effective way to communicate.

While it is undoubtedly true that he reached people during his 12 years in the wrong job, it is equally true that he could have reached so many more if he had chosen the right job. He admits now that he would have been happier working as a preacher, since working in the wrong job was painful, demoralizing, and uninspiring.

As you consider new career options, please keep in mind that you are looking for a job that will pay you to do your life’s work. You are not looking for a job where you are forced to do your life’s work on the side.

You Are Reading an Article Series — Synergy, The Key to Greater Energy and Happiness:

  1. Intro: Synergy, the Key to Greater Energy and Happiness
  2. 4 Steps to a Fulfilling Life Mission
  3. Discover Your Message — Synergy Step One
  4. Discover Your Strengths — Synergy Step Two
  5. Choose Your Medium — Synergy Step Three
  6. Choose Your Environment — Synergy Step Four

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