“To love what you do and feel that it matters – how could anything be more fun?”
Kathleen Graham, The Washington Post
There it was, projecting up at me from the top of an advertisement page in a weekly news magazine: “take this job and love it!” Why did this phrase capture my attention? Besides the fact that it was an obvious take off on an old country music hit, “take this job and shove it, I ain’t working here no more,” I also think it was the audacity of someone thinking that work could be fun! It reminded me of a Non-Sequitur cartoon I saw a while ago with two frames – the first showing a man working at his corporate desk with a sign hanging prominently behind him that read, “Seize the Day!” The second frame had the same man, now much older, still sitting in the same position, yet the sign behind him now had changed to read, “Survive the day!” The caption stated: “Today’s corporate philosophy.” What a shame! Why can’t work be both fun and meaningful? I believe it can! Especially if, like Kathleen Graham’s quote above, you love what you do, and know that it makes a difference for someone, somewhere.
How can you make your work meaningful and fun? How do you discover your true passion in life? Above all, how can you convince yourself that your career can be an exciting adventure, another thrilling portion of your life journey? You can make a dynamic difference through your work, and one great place to start is by choosing a positive attitude toward your work! Carpe diem! Seize the moment each day to make choices in your career that will make a positive difference for others and yourself. Remember, “no one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else” (Charles Dickens).
At the age of 36, following 3 years of graduate school and 12 years of experience in one career, why make a change? After all, I was in the midst of a promising career and financially stable. Why would anyone in their right mind leave a comfortable annual income for a life of financial worry and stress for a period of 4 to 5 years? (For the record, my average annual income was less than the poverty line three of the five years of my doctoral program.) Most of my family and friends thought I was crazy! I thought that of myself a few times. But I wanted to be a counselor and make a difference, and I needed more training and experience to get to the place I wanted to be. For years I had been doing “counseling” and “crisis intervention” without the expertise, and I was tired of pretending. I needed instruction, more experience, and a sense of personal and professional integrity. So I studied for and took the GRE. I applied for a Ph.D. program and was accepted. I began the journey toward becoming a professional counselor. Little did I know that along the way I would have the opportunity to teach counseling and discover my true life passion! I love teaching! Now I have the best of all worlds – I am a deeply satisfied lifelong learner and I also have the honor of teaching among some of the brightest minds and most caring people in the world! My best advice for you as you continue along your career journey is to be prepared for and open to the unexpected turns in the road, for around the next corner you may discover a surprising opportunity that may lead you toward discovering your life passion!
Quotations for Reflection:
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
“Far and away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
Louisa May Alcott
“Nothing happens unless first a dream.”
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Henry David Thoreau
“The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”