Dear Style –
I read a piece on LinkedIn recently that said women our age were sold a bill of goods. That “doing what you love” as an occupation is a millennial concept that is foreign to our parents, and delusional to our generation of workers, especially women trying to juggle life and family. We should go to work, then go home and do what we love in our free time. The article did note, however, that life seems to have moved away from 8 work hours, 8 hours of life, 8 hours of sleep and is now much more work, and less life/sleep.
So here’s the question:
You have the 2 kids, husband and full life of activities outside the office – but I wonder if you are like me and don’t have the passion you once did for your ‘day job.’ I worked hard for a decade in my preferred field, then moved to areas where that specialized service-type skill is not valued as highly but I could apply my experience and have a stable paycheck.
My professional path is now defined more by ensuring the two little people at home (and husband) have food, shelter and clothes on their backs. Is it just me (and a shift in priorities)? Am I burned out and going through a “third of life” crisis? Or is it true – doing what you love just doesn’t pay the bills for most breadwinners?
Deep fried and frustrated
Dear Deep Fried and Frustrated,
I don’t know that we have been sold a bill of goods, but I think that the truth is really somewhere between the Millennial idea that we should all just “Lean In” and the idea that we should be grateful for our paycheck and love our life outside of work.
First, I have a lot of old school beliefs that probably come from my dad’s strong work ethic. I think we do have to do the job that pays the bills for our family, even if it isn’t exactly what we want. I also think you have to earn your time at the bottom to work your way up not by “leaning in” when you aren’t in Silicon Valley (where 20 year olds hold CEO positions). As an aside, those 20 year olds have grown up revolutionizing how we use computers and live off ramen noodles until they are snatched up by a venture capitalist, so they are “earning” it just the same…
Second, I think the reality is that we have to find a balance of paying the bills and finding joy at work. That can happen in a couple of different ways. Here is what I mean:
- If you truly dislike what you are doing but like the company, maybe you could look to see if there is another department or job that you could either apply for or build your skills to move to. If so, sit down with someone from that area and see what it would take to get you there. A lot of companies offer training to assist employees.
- Another way is to find ways to be creative at work. Obviously if you love to paint or cook and you are in a desk job, you might have to volunteer on a social committee or like the article said, start making it part of your non-work life. However, sometimes those can grow into eventual jobs. For example, a good friend of mine quit her day job last year, because her side business of cooking healthy ready to heat meals is a full-time job. And most of her old co-workers are her clients.
- However, for those of us that find our current job isn’t a far stretch from what we like, the answer can be easier. I had a passion for Customer Service, and I ended up being the co-chair of a customer service team for my company, a health system. Yes, it was extra work, but I really found value in it and I was given special training that I now incorporate in my consulting business.
It is fair to say we all go through a “fried and frustrated” stage on the flip side, I actually think this phase is what makes us appreciate it so much more when we get “there,” wherever that may be. And to be honest, I think we should continue to go for the dream, but be mindful to love the journey it takes to get there.
Remember, perspective is everything—and that IS something you can control every day.