On What We’re Working For

What are you working for?

 

Is it for the value you’re creating?  

The purpose you’re serving?  

The stability you’re experiencing?

The results you’re achieving?

The recognition you’re receiving?  

The money you’re earning?  

The prestige you’re feeling?  

The validation you’re getting?  

Any reason is viable as long as we know what it is and are at peace with it.

If not, it’s an opportunity to evaluate why we’re in the situation we’re in and if it’s still worth it.

It’s hard to get off the track you’re on. It’s usually easier to follow the forward momentum and rinse/repeat.

But the flip side is that sometimes your life depends on you getting off that track. To make a conscious choice to stop the train and change course in a direction that makes you feel alive again.

On A Job Just Being A Job

Sometimes a job is just a job. You have it so you can pay the bills, support you/your family, save for something big, get out of debt (or into it), have stability, or serve some other purpose.

A job being a job is totally fine and admirable, if you’re clear on why you’re doing it.

If you don’t, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you’re not fulfilled, you’re not creating value, or you’re stuck.

But it’s ok to want more from your work. It’s ok to want to feel fulfilled. It’s ok to want to create value. These things give life meaning and make us feel like we’ve done something worth our while.

On the flip side, if you want all those things from your work and aren’t getting it, you may start to feel like you’ll never find those things, you’re expecting too much, and maybe a job is just a job.

On either side, a job is not going to fulfill all the parts of you that need fulfilling and give you the full sense of purpose that you want to feel. And neither will a relationship, or a new home, or a puppy, or a child. They’re component parts, but it’s way too much to ask of any one thing or person.

But you can start by defining what your purpose is, what it means to you to be fulfilled, and what creating value looks like to you. Then you can look at the component parts and break down what you want to get out of each.

If you start there, you’ll be far better equipped to find the work, the relationships, and the other things you need to piece your full life together. And though life doesn’t guarantee you’ll find them all, at least you’ll know what you’re looking for.

On Asking Why

We ask why when we don’t understand something. (After typing that sentence I had to look up the meaning of why, because I don’t think I’ve ever done that. Oxford said, “For what reason or purpose.”)

When asked it’s usually an innocent question prompted by genuine curiosity, but it’s not always taken that way.

Sometimes it’s viewed as a challenge. Or a questioning of authority. Or an annoyance. Or disloyalty. Or a dig. As an incessant question asker, especially of why, I can vouch for all of these reactions.

As a kid, I was yelled at for being a pest and for questioning commands. As an employee, I’ve gotten feedback from multiple managers at various jobs that I needed to not challenge the direction I was given and just follow orders. As a friend, my questions made others feel like I wasn’t on their side. As a partner, I’ve been told that I wasn’t being supportive and understanding.  

And this whole time, I’ve felt wildly misunderstood.

I live for asking why. It’s an honest passion and a fundamental motivation of my existence to understand why things happen, why people do the things they do, why people are the way they are. My world lights up when there’s a topic I don’t understand and I have an opportunity to ask someone about it.  

But in my early twenties I realized I wasn’t asking myself why enough. Why did I make the choices I made? Why did I react the way I did? Why were my passions my passions? What am I truly motivated by? And why did I respond to questions of why with the same defensiveness as I’ve received?

(On that last one, it was usually because I didn’t know the answer and that was extremely uncomfortable. It still is.)

It’s not the best feeling to not know things in front of our family, coworkers, friends, and partners. But the scariest whys are the ones we don’t know about ourselves. Cuz if you don’t know, who would?

But figuring out what to do with your life is a self-directed path that includes asking yourself a ton of hard questions that often include the word why. Sometimes it may seem like it’s derailing you from your end goal, but the path isn’t straight and going down a why tunnel may be necessary to figure out what your end goal even is.

The journey may not be rainbows and sunshine all the time, actually it can be pretty painful, but if we can look at asking why as an opportunity to learn about ourselves and start getting comfortable facing that question, we may find that most of the answers we’re looking for sit at the end of that tunnel.

So, jump in.