In the wake of my confession about my struggle with my relationship perfectionism, my gut tells me that there may be more people who struggle with this type of perfectionism in their career and purpose categories.
So today, I’d like to get a little feisty and share what I really think about career and purpose over-idealism.*
To be honest, more and more I notice comments, worries, and clouds of anxiety surrounding people and their “career” or “purpose.” Especially among Gen Y and Gen Z.
I think the idea we were all taught about “making a difference” in our childhoods has cast this shadow of expectation that we should all be rescuing the planet, curing cancer, and making hundreds of thousands of dollars while working a 9 to 5 job – from a sail boat in our pajamas.
And the truth is that all of those things are possible, and will happen for some people.
But the fact is that most people will not be doing those things. And that’s a good thing.
The world would not be quite as nice if we didn’t have people to do our taxes, send us Netflix, cut our hair, or cook our organic grass fed burgers on a pretzel bun.**
Yet it seems so many people are sitting in their cubicles stressing out over the utter “meaninglessness” of their jobs.
And I honestly want to say that I think that those people should deeply consider whether their current situation actually does have the potential to become part of their purpose if they dug in, changed their perception, and had a more proactive outlook.
I love you, so please let me explain.
Purpose is not a string of fuzzy warm feelings that naturally burst forth at every moment. The purpose equation explains that it doesn’t really matter what the heck you are doing. As long as you are using whatever you are doing to better the day of someone else, then that is purpose in action.
So even if the job itself isn’t pulling samples for Vogue, saving orphans, or raking in fat checks, it can still be done with excellence, problem solving (aka creativity), and love.
Almost all jobs involve working and interacting with peers or customers. Those interactions are where you have the unlimited potential to step it up and become someone that really does make other people more joyful during the workday.
Take my label guy, Todd, for example. I have only spoken on the phone with Todd a handful of times over the past two years. But I always look forward to calling him for more labels. He’s friendly, happy, prompt, honest, and just plain fun to work with. Of the dozens of suppliers I have to pay, I actually look forward to giving him money.
He’s a label maker with a sh*t load of purpose.
Further, any transaction ultimately fills a need. So there can be a bigger goal to look towards for inspiration or meaning.
On the other hand, if that is simply impossible to find or the environment is unhealthy, there is always the option of leaving the place and going in a new direction.
Either way, we are not helpless beings in search of meaning and purpose. We are powerful. So powerful, we have the capability to transform our current moment into purpose if we put our minds to it.
We just gotta lose the cooky sense that we need to be doing something that we find fulfilling.
Fulfilling is in this very moment if we choose to honor it completely.
* Yep, I just made that term up, but I think it fits.
** And a million other careers. But you get my point.