Yup you know the drill. The alarm clock went off at 5:45. The daily commute was hectic. You are now sitting at your desk at what someone else told you was “the perfect job for you” with an almost irresistible urge to get up and get the heck out of dodge. And it isn’t even 8:30 yet. Ugh.
You may even be reading this article at the exact moment in time I described above.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing inherently wrong with a 9-5 job. What’s wrong is the amount of time wasted. How much time do we waste per day while at work? just under an hour day according to research cited in this article.
Much human potential is wasted throughout the day because most of us have not taken the time to figure out what the perfect job might even look like for us.
There are those that say you need to feel grateful wherever you are at the current time. While I certainly don’t disagree, I see a lot of wasted potential from someone who has spent the last 20 years in basic lawn care.
I believe this stems from a general lack of commitment to the tasks at hand at the workplace in addition to our lack of focus. Why? Because we are not really invested in the work.
If we aren’t invested and engaged in the work at hand we won’t give as much of ourselves to the tasks at hand. If we don’t believe in the company’s mission then we won’t work as hard. This will only build up over time and before you know it after two years you are totally ready to quit.
Unless of course we slack off so much that we are at risk of being fired, then we will probably work just hard enough not to get the ax. It depends on how good you are at judging the risk/reward of slacking off and of course judging the likelihood of being fired.
I was really good at just doing enough of the work, but never really pushing myself to excel and reach my potential. Why? Because I didn’t really like what I was doing, and was unable to invest myself in it fully.
I believe that at least at some point in our working lives most of us have had these thoughts. We have gone to work and wondered what the heck it is we were doing with our lives. What’s the point?
I hit this stage when I was 25 and still working with a counseling agency. I believed in their mission to help children with mental health disabilities, and I wish the best for them, but it was never something I believed in to my core.
I never truly believed it was part of my true purpose, nor did I particularly enjoy the work.
And that is the crux of the issue. Just because a cause is worth fighting for, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is OUR cause.
There are a plethora of worthy causes that exist, as well as great organizations that are moving this world forward, but there is no way we can give ourselves to every cause.
The best chance at finding renewable energy, coming up with a political system that works, or staving off world hunger lies in putting our best foot forward. We must put the best employees and minds towards the specific endeavors that resonate with their greatest strengths.
But what does this mean for you?
Instead of trying to get out of your current job by finding another job, try the following steps first. It doesn’t make any sense to leave something we hate for a similar job or a similar situation.
The quest to find the perfect job lies within ourselves and our search for meaning. We need to ask ourselves the tough questions.
If you truly want to find something that aligns with your skills and passions, but also gives back to the community, keep on reading.
Stay at Your Current Job For Now
While you are discovering your true purpose and are still undecided on your future, it might make the most sense to stay at your current job for now. It really depends on how badly your job is affecting your happiness and overall health.
While on the flip side I do often recommend that people quit their jobs if they are unhappy, it might make the most sense to stay if you have no idea what you want to do.
This is a tough choice that only you can make.
If you do decide to leave, follow my step by step guide to doing so here.
For now, take your time and learn more about yourself before you decide to jump ship.
Discover your Passion
Numerous resources exist online to finding what your passion is. You could spend years pouring over these resources to answer this question, but I think it is something that only comes naturally over time if we are consistently and intentionally seeking.
If we spend all of our time in one job, with the same exact daily routine, we are giving ourselves very little shot of actually of discovering our passion.
I think we can only really discover our passion naturally and not by force. We cannot read a book or complete a certain task in order to magically find the answer.
It is something that must occur organically over time provided we are actively searching.
This can be troublesome to those, like me, that want to figure it out and move on with their lives, but this just isn’t possible. We must have patience, whilst simultaneously job hopping (occasionally, not every day) and trying new things on a consistent basis.
In order to give ourselves the best chance of success we must continue searching and growing.
In the pursuit of finding your passion life doesn’t stop. I know this, you know this, but most popular advice out there fails to recognize this.
Do this, or do that, and definitely do this too!
There is so much advice out there, but we only have so much time to read the advice, let alone implement it!
Facing reality ultimately means doing what we can with the time we have, and forgetting the rest. If it takes you 35 years to find your passion that’s okay.
BUT, and this is a big butt here. You CANNOT allow yourself to be stuck in your current reality either. In the same way that it is not something that you can kick yourself for at the time being, don’t let 5 years go by at a job you know you hate either.
Facing reality is such where we can feel okay about our current circumstances by taking huge steps to making a new reality for ourselves.
We have to pay the rent every month, but we don’t need to stay in a place where we don’t have meaning in our job. We can certainly rise above, but it won’t happen right away.
Find the Interplay
In order to tie this in with discovering our passions, we have to face the reality that we are finite beings. But how to do face reality AND still try to find our passions?
This is the age old question that is extremely difficult to answer, but we can indeed get there if we try.
We cannot spend our entire lives searching for our passions, but how to know how much time to spend?
One answer is to use math:
In the book “Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions”, the author Brian Christian discuss the idea of the “optimal stopping point” and how it can be applied to daily life.
The basic premise of this mathematical algorithm is that there is a point in which the benefits of stopping start to outweigh the benefits of waiting. For example, there is a point in which the knowledge gained during our “search phase” is ready to be exploited.
It can apply to situations like dating as the book shares (the point in which we have gone on enough dates with enough people to know what we are really looking for), or even apartment hunting. If we dedicate the first 10 apartment visits to data gathering, then we can then use that knowledge to decide on a perfect apartment.
The optimal stopping point? 37% and it works 37% of the time. I am not making this up.
*For more see the famous secretary problem.
Most importantly we can only find the interplay when we do eventually find our passion and either reality says we must make a choice or we decide on our own to dive in.
This is where math, at least for me, stops in its effectiveness at applying to life’s situations. While interesting, and certainly a great starting point, there are so many different variables in each person’s life as to make it very difficult to find universal truth for when our passions should intersect with real life and bliss can be found.
In reality, this might never be the case. I might never find my “ultimate true purpose” but that is okay. The pudding is in the journey or whatever they say.
Still though, we must continually strive for this goal, even if we may never achieve it.
In order to find the interplay between passion and reality? Continually grow and learn, but never forget to face reality at every step of the way. Don’t beat yourself up if certain life events pull you away and cause you to lose track.
Pick yourself up and keep on going.
What problem can you solve with where this intersects?
The final step in the process of turning away from the question of finding the perfect job is to ask where we can help others? Where can we use our newfound passions and the interplay to make a difference?
I believe the ultimate goal cannot be our own happiness. It must be the happiness of others. Society nowadays tells us to strive for happiness at all costs.
I disagree here.
While I love happiness and positivity, I believe that it is selfish to purely pursue this as an end goal. If you just want to make money to buy your own happiness it won’t end up working anyways.
I personally want to make enough money to not have to worry about menial things, but neither do I wish for millions.
If we are lifting each other up and helping each other to pursue worldly change, we will organically discover happiness.
The smile that we can put on another’s face is truly worth its weight in gold every time right?
In the end pursue your passion with intensity, face reality, find the interplay, and then use that knowledge to change the world. Do this and we will all live in a happier and better place.
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Getting Unstuck in a Sticky World: How Taking Action is the Key to Unlocking Your Ultimate Potential
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Revealing post, my Friend. Enjoyed your wordplay and subtle humor, as well.
You’ve made some interesting observations about exploring too long before taking stock and making a decision. I mean, you fool around long enough, life makes up your mind for you. And, it ‘ain’t always pretty….
Thanks for the comment Edward, appreciate that. And yes, I think that life does have a way of pushing us into certain things, but there is also a lot that is in our control. Glad you stopped by.