I’ve had several conversations about where life is going, what we’re doing for careers, and what our dreams are. These conversations have been roughly the same for me since graduating college. My ultimate answer is, I don’t know. I’m doing many things in the meantime to try to advance any semblance of a career, but where I want to go and what I want to be is far from me.
There are things yes, I dream about. I dream of having an impact on the world and those around me. I dream of making a difference in each person I meet. I dream of eventually being a loving husband and father. I dream of being successful, whatever that means. I dream of working hard, and being good at whatever I do.
The problem is, none of that gets you a good job. My degree hasn’t done that yet. I’ve not been able to find a job where I can use my degree in a related field. Some would say because I’ve not succeeded in getting a job with my degree that I’m a failure, or a lazy bum. The stigmas that go along with not having a “professional” job or career are endless, and being in the construction industry has its own as well. In a performance driven society, we are looked on with pity as failures. At the least they are kind enough to say we aren’t trying hard enough (I hope you get the irony in this).
When it comes to family, your life is made worse because well meaning parents (in-laws, significant others parents) drive their perspective of success into our brains. They say that we have to have a job that turns into a career. When we’ve been stuck in a dead-end retail job, they worry we have become complacent and lazy when we’re working our tails off to live up to their definition of what life should be. I’ve worked fast food, retail, and now I’m surveying in the construction business. I cannot get a good job (or a job at all) based on my well-wished dreams of being involved with people and loving on them.
What I can do is use whatever job I do have to fulfill those goals and dreams I have. It is not lazy to work as hard as I can to be as good as I can be at the career I’m in. That might not land me the sweet job everyone else dreams about, but I can be satisfied knowing I’ve made an impact where I’m at. Having an attitude like this also greatly increases our happiness. Stress is lessened, because always floundering with what career to pick to gain favor in someone else’s eyes is exhausting. Will we like it? Can we do that for the rest of our lives? We make to big of a deal out of those things. We need to do the job that pays the bills and puts food on the table. Having a magnanimous career might not happen, but we can be satisfied that we are making the most out of what we have.
Forever dreaming about what we don’t have will always lead to dissatisfaction, anger, depression, and feelings of inferiority when it comes to our career. Our peers have started their careers, and are enjoying them. Reality is, some God has given those great jobs to, and good on them. For some of us, God has given the flexibility to work whatever job we need to. It means we can be a light and influence in more places, and we have the chance to gain broader experiences. It’s not a license to be lazy, far from that. Rather it’s permission to be the best in any given situation.
Success isn’t having that shiny career with the pension at the end of 20 years time. Success is making the best of the tools God has given you, and glorifying Him through that. We have to stop seeing it as more money, or a higher position, or more prestige in the professional community. In the end, no one will remember you were a manager making so much money for this prestigious company. What they will remember is who you were to them at work, at home, and at play. How you gave your time to them and loved on them will be how they see you. Don’t build your kingdom with what will just burn away in a fire, but make it into something that will last and stand the test of time.