People quit their jobs because they haven’t discovered their true passion? That’s usual. What is unusual is the fact that many of us make that an excuse to disengage from work and refuse to scale up. Then comes the tiffs with higher-ups and toxic office colleagues, it seems like job satisfaction is something of a rare gem.
I believe that there’s so much more we can do to take charge of our career.
Rethink the impact of (bad) bosses
I used to dread going to work because, at that time, I didn’t like my job. And what’s more frustrating than a low-paying job is having to deal with a difficult boss. My boss was not someone who made my life miserable. In contrast, he didn’t do anything to make my life miserable.
At the age of 21, all I wanted was just a higher paycheck. That desire was the greatest motivation that helped me pull through every single day. But unfortunately, my boss didn’t need that kind of commitment. He refused to invest in me (read: no promotion). And I wasn’t happy.
It didn’t take long before I got sick of my dead-end job, so I quit without a plan B. All I knew was that I wanted something different, something that would make every day an adventure. What I didn’t realise (not until recently) was that my boss could definitely see that I wasn’t passionate about my job. Well, no bosses would trust an employee whose only purpose is to earn money. Those who do are bad bosses indeed.
Here’s another story.
A friend of mine is a reliable person. She can execute any tasks given to her perfectly. But even after years of working, she just can’t seem to climb the corporate ladder. She often blames her boss(es) for not recognising her talent and she job hops quite often for that very reason.
Bosses are at the positions where they are now because they understand what it takes to bring a company forward. What really differentiates a good boss and a bad boss is their foresight into the business, not how often they promote their staff. So if you are able to highlight your skills that align with the company’s vision and deliver the best performance you possibly can, you don’t need a good boss to help you stay engaged and happy.
Now back to my friend’s case, she is able to get things done right and she does just that. That’s the problem. You are hired to be responsible for a given task, so it is expected of you to do it. If you can manage what you’re supposed to do (well), the company will acknowledge your contributions. However, you need to seize more opportunities where your true talent can be assessed and try to accomplish more than what you’re asked in order to gain recognition. Only then will you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
No matter how hard you try to avoid roadblocks, there will be bosses or other factors that will get in your way to success. You can keep looking for the next career move, but before you do so, make sure that you have defined your goals, not whom you want to work for.
PS: It’s unfortunate (and inevitable) if you encounter real bad bosses, but that’s another story for next time.
Find a purpose and commit to it
After all the ups and downs, I’ve eventually landed a job that makes every day feel like an adventure. And that sentiment comes from the internal drive.
I wouldn’t call myself a serial job-hopper (perhaps more like a seasonal one). During the past four years, I’ve worked with three employers in two different roles. Some may question my loyalty (and probably my career choice) since the longest I’ve been with a company by far is exactly 15 months. Well, I have my reasons. Also, as I started working before finishing college (read: before I could fully figure out a proper career path), turbulence was bound to happen.
All that aside, I just want to emphasise on the consequence of not knowing our own desires. I can’t imagine having to do the same things every day for the rest of my life without a vision of what awaits in the future. It’s okay to work for money (we all do), but it’s more important to leave some marks in your life, something that will make your future-self be grateful for.
You may argue that my point is only applicable to people who are not pressured by the financial burden. But I believe that most of us can live the life we want at any point of life. I know that you are already sick of being asked “What is your passion?”, I’ll ask you something else: “How can you give meaning to your career?”
“Purpose”, it is perhaps the most powerful force to push you forward.
What if you haven’t figured out your passion? Trust me, you’ll still be able to enjoy whatever you are doing right now as long as you have a purpose (besides making money of course). It doesn’t have to be anything too extraordinary like disrupting an industry or changing the world. In fact, that sense of purpose is often sprung from the organisation’s mission statement. When you believe in your leader’s vision, no matter what you do, you’ll be able to find a meaning in your career and stay motivated every day.
In his inspiring TED talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”, Simon Sinek emphasised on the value of the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do. His philosophy has enlightened me (and probably everyone else) the true secret to a fulfilling career. So here I am sharing with you the single element that’s helped transform the way I work: my purpose. You only feel dissatisfied at work when all you can look forward to is the paycheck.
Before diving head-first to any career path, ask yourself why. Does the company’s mission give you a sense of purpose? Or are they only focusing on maximising shareholder value? If you are unable to recognise the impact of your work, don’t waste your time.
Counterintuitively, passion is not the only thing that makes a fulfilling career. Because the notion of “finding your dream job” carries a lot of pressure, it shouldn’t be the anchor of your career. Don’t treat any job as temporary just because it’s not what you wish to do. Being a CEO is not a dream job, it won’t bring you happiness if you run a company that does nothing to help improve the lives of others.
I urge you to search for a purpose in what you do, approach your job with the mindset that it will bring about a positive change to this world in the future.