What is Work?

child at the bottom of the stairs

Take a moment to imagine your perfect employment scenario. Is it a new role at your current employer, a new employer, or jumping out to start your own business? Is the space you are working in, the corner office on the top floor, an empty garage converted into an innovation lab? A quaint little storefront in a small downtown strip? This change sounds nice, taking you from the current day into your dream situation.

Expand this thought. Imagine the honeymoon phase of this dream role is over. You are in the day-to-day living every in and out of this new role. Is it exactly what you imagined it would be? What is the growth path of this role? How do you see yourself succeeding or failing? What did you learn in taking on this role? Are you as happy as you thought you would be, or is it about time that you are imagining moving on to something new?

No matter where you are in your career. You must dream of your future. You are setting your North Star. This North Star will allow you to check your bearings. Determine if you are still on the desired path into the future. It could also show you other locations for that North Star you had not dreamed of yet, where you are set a new course for the future version of yourself.

In either situation, one must know where you are moving toward. More importantly, being honest with what that dream role does not release you from. You may be free of the current challenging team, micromanagement, difficult working conditions, fixed schedules, a boss who always points out everything wrong, and others. I have learned that no matter what you leave behind in the current role, there will be something equally problematic in the new role.

When I started my career in engineering, I thought there was an ideal place for everyone. It was up to me to locate this opportunity aligned with my ideals. Three employers and many titles later, I began to see the world in a different light. Every role has its own set of problems. There is no running from problems at all. The only thing that changes is the set of issues to be solved. It was immature of me to believe the next role would come with no problems. Being a knowledge worker, isn't problem-solving what we are getting paid to do?

After I came to this realization, my life and career changed; instead of looking to dodge the problems. I learned how to split the problem set into three buckets: problems I do not enjoy solving, problems I do not prefer, and problems I love. I'm confident you can also do some of this in your work. It gives you more enjoyment of your path, changing the trajectory into the future. In my next post, I will share the tactics I have learned to help you love what you are doing.