After 4 years working in a mental health hospital, I felt completely lost in my career. Each week I drained my body for a paycheck, working 40 hours in 2 1/2 days and occasionally signing up for those 8 hour overnights working from midnight to 8 a.m.
I was aggravated, irritable and discontent. I deeply craved change, something with purpose, so I moved within the company to a different department. But after another year, I quickly realized this field was a dead end and no longer matched who I was. Soon, I became very depressed and angry at myself. Regret ran wild; what was the point of all this? Why did I get a psychology degree? Have I just wasted the last 8 years? What do I want to do with my life?
In order to create some still space and give these questions a real answer, I quit my job in December of 2018 and nearly had a panic attack when submitted my resignation letter. I’d always had a plan, but for the first time I had no direction. No job prospects. Nothing.
Instead of clinging onto the first glimpse of a job offer, I allowed myself to be unemployed and intentionally live off savings. It was 8 years ago that I had decided to go to college and get a BA degree. In all that time I never even took a moment to reassess who I’d become and whether this is what I still wanted to do. Now, life told me it was time to reassess.
For four months, I sought to make passion a priority and pushed myself to test out new career paths. Even if I was terrified. Even if they paid poorly and offered zero benefits. Like millions of others, I had made the mistake of placing money on a pedestal. I was willing to sacrifice the real me and all the genuine bliss that goes along with that if it meant I’d take home a larger check. Didn’t seem like a problem to me at the time if I had to “fake it to make it.” In this disparity was not where I wanted to be so, I tried to pursue lifelong interests and see where they led; personal training, childcare, writing and a number of other very random, side gigs like writing obituaries. This “testing” period was actually a “transitioning” period when I learned a life changing lesson:
Don’t seek purpose in anything or anyone. And surely don’t expect your life’s plan to pop up on Indeed, Monster or any other job sight.
Finding a career you love begins with your ability to stay true to yourself; in order to do that, you need to know yourself very well; likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, values, aversions and all. When what you do in your free time (given you’re a healthy, sane and morally kept adult) matches what you do for work, you suddenly tap into a place of deep synchronicity.
This is a beautiful place to be.
“Not many people actually love their job,” is the common retort. However, even if this is true, it doesn’t mean it has to be true for you and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t strive to be one of the few who loves what they do.
It’s a rough work-world journey, filled with defeated, jaded and harsh individuals, but in the words of Mark Twain:
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
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