As I ponder how to have a self-styled life, I often run up against the issue of job versus career.
Though we often use the terms “job” and “career” interchangeably, we recognize a conceptual difference between the two. And in case you don’t, allow Chris Rock to explain (language warning):
So generally, things we associate with a job:
- pays the bills
- short-term, perhaps
- not necessarily something you love (sounds like scraping shrimp wasn’t the highlight of Chris Rock’s life)
- long-term life goal
- requires planning (training, education, etc)
- becomes part of our identity
- engages our passion
Here I run into what I will call the Job-Career Paradox. In seeking the self-styled life, what I am looking for sounds closer to a career–something that reflects my passions and is part of who I am. And yet, I explicitly stated that I don’t see myself as particularly career-minded. Part of that aversion, I believe, is that often in developing a career it can become all-consuming, a work-life balance killer. And if you begin hating what you do, it is no longer a career. Would having just a job be the answer? Go to work to pay the bills, and nurture passions in the off-time?
Talking to a friend about this subject recently, she brought up a discussion she’d had with an older coworker. He said he just didn’t get our generation’s need to have a “meaningful career” that is constantly satisfying. In his day, people got JOBS. To pay the bills. To earn a living. To support a family. And they had a Life outside of work.
Is that the answer?
Not so fast.
Right now, I have a job. And here I am.
While I’m not sitting on the toilet in despair à la Chris Rock at Red Lobster, I’m finding (no offense to the jewelry store, but) it’s just not enough for me. I am still seeking an outlet for all that education, those skills, the drive to contribute to the world. Also, I find that having a job (because I still need to eat) tends to take the best of me in a day. After I come home and make dinner, there’s not much energy–mental or physical–to do all of the things I had been planning to do at home, the things I daydreamed about while at work!
In truth, I think it is different for everyone. Some people may be satisfied with a job that pays the bills and a non-work life that provides meaning. Other people find a career that engages their passion so well they are indeed satisfied (and remember: try not to let your career happiness make us job people sad…).
And then there are the rest of us. We don’t have a cut-and-dry model. My sister Kirby created something very unique that met her needs, desires and passions, but as I said, I can imagine that her way is not for everyone.
Where do you fall? Could you have “just a job”? Have you found a career you really love? Do you think our generation is simply asking for too much? Do you sit on the toilet, trying to waste time at work?