What was I thinking on a Sunday night? How I wish I could do something else for a living. Guess what?? Quite a few thought the same! It’s surprising how universal many of the feelings we have about our jobs truly are. Work is still work; dreams are still dreams; hope remains unfulfilled for many.
Few months back too, I tried contemplating why I do what I do, what it is like to toil away at a job I do not enjoy, all the while pining for a job that I wished I could do. Everyone has a secret dream job, what they imagine they would rather be doing, where things would be better somehow, right??
What strike me is that most people are busy doing work they don’t really care for or enjoy less. They are unhappy and feel trapped, but they stick at it. There are few who in contrast are doing work that they *love* and are having a magical time at it. And then there are few who are far between. I wonder why people choose to not “follow their bliss” and find what gives them joy. Simple – because they have bills to pay.
Most jobs have become de-humanizing. Robotizing. How and why it is done, what one likes and dislikes about their job, the little dramas and boredom that fills the working hours and the toll it takes on one’s private life. In many families, people devote 10+ hours or more to power games at work at the expense of family time and personal health. In a social gathering, most of ask each other, “what do you do?” and usually the answer is just a job title, and maybe a description of a current project at the office. There is simultaneous pride and shame in our work and a nagging need to justify or defend. And underneath it all, there is an eternal conflict between plans, dreams, and realities that never seems to be reconciled.
Few years ago, there were the days of company loyalty, the idea that you could work for one firm for a lifetime and be rewarded or valued were a thing of the past. Well, the good-old-days always look greener, no matter what era you grew up in. Nostalgia for a better past is universal. There’s nothing new under the sun.
While we are in college, we are following a certain norm which is ingrained by our surroundings. For most of us, after we have spent few years in our career, our calling comes when we know what we actually would want to do. But it’s not easy to start all over again. It is definitely not easy for me when I think of a career shift at 35. Uncertain economic climate and wider fears about the effects of the long term trend “globalization” make me reluctant to a certain extent but feeling of failure and “what-if-I-am-wrong” actually stops me from reaching out in trying what I want to do. There are few people I closely know who have taken a plunge after a 33 year career in IT. I admire them for listening to their calling.
Job hunting in India is a different ball-game altogether. It’s not an easy market with billions of people. You apply to a job-opening based on the requirement while you are grilled on pre-set interview questions by someone who is looking for your fitment in a particular project. If you pass that hurdle, you have to battle with the designation and salary. No, I am not scaring you but sometimes it’s good to look in the mirror to easily understand the situation. Every time I have appeared for an interview, I have asked to link my area of expertise with my majored subject in college. As I strategically respond to it, I still want to ask “does it matter…now?” I believe instead of just work experience, a candidate aspiring for something new should also be evaluated on his vision, wisdom and capability to learn.
Let’s face it – corporate life is empty and corporate success an illusion. Ladder-climbing is an empty pursuit. There is a feeling of a moral hollowness about it. With throat-cutting competition, people in the hierarchy are petrified of the people nipping at their heels, eyeing for their job. They worry about their age and their disposability after their shelf-life.
I need to feel challenged in order to be fulfilled. A job which is secure and pays adequately may mean complete misery if there’s no challenge or sense of meaningful contribution. We learn that in order to be happy in life we must follow our dream and not do something based on status or salary. It causes one to pause and reflect. Can we do that? Can we really do that? It is easier said than done but certainly do-able.
We meander through life holding on to our dreams without taking actions. We hold onto our work so tightly and look at our life through the lens of our work and experience, placing all things into perspective. The day I build enough courage to listen to my calling, I will be free to pursue my heart’s desire, or something that makes me feel like I am truly contributing to the world in a meaningful way, in a way beyond.
One day, I want to honestly say “I made it“.