February 11, 2008, Category: Book Reviews, Musings

What Should I do with my Life?

whatshouldido I stumbled across this book a couple years ago before my wife and I were married. A friend had left it at her apartment and I started thumbing through it and couldn’t put it down. I left it on the coffee table and went home with the intent of finding it at the library. When her friend left to go home to New Zealand, she left it with Sandi to give it to me. I finished the book within a few days.

I’ve never understood how my dad could plug away at the same job, year after year after decade. He never complained, in fact, he seemed to enjoy it. It’s never been like that for me. I could digress into an entire disposition about my struggles with work. Maybe it’s my depressive nature, my existentialistic core, or maybe I’m just spoiled rotten and don’t know how to buckle down and work. I get bored with jobs. I like new challenges and I like to be doing things that actually feel meaningful. When those things fall into place I dig in with a passion that might be better described as an addiction. But I’m picky as to what “meaningful” means.

I’ve often felt out of place in the modern world, like I just don’t fit. Don’t get me wrong, I have good jobs and I get good reviews from my employers. I just don’t feel happy about it. I feel like I’m wasting time and spending most of my time doing stuff that doesn’t matter at all. I often wonder if I missed my calling in life…my passions are writing and photography but I got a Masters in Accounting and computers. I can make good money doing those things so I don’t bail and pursue what I love. I keep telling myself some day I’ll do it. When take the time to write or take pictures I enjoy myself so much I feel depressed that I can’t do them all day long. That’s me, too often seeing the storm instead of the rainbow.

My struggle has always been whether I have a problem or whether I’m out of sync with who I really am. Am I horribly spoiled or am I just walking down the wrong road? I have a great life and I often think it’s pretty pathetic to even question these things. Who am I to complain when I have so much? Maybe having more than I need combined with a fair amount of free time gives me too much time to think. When I’m in survival mode, I really don’t question whether I’m happy or not…or whether I’m doing something meaningful. Those times are about putting food on the table.

Po’s book is a collection of stories about people that sound a bit like me. Most are about people that left jobs to pursue their dreams…and found happiness. These touched and inspired me to the core. They gave me hope that maybe I’m not flawed inside. Maybe one day I’ll be able to sort this part of myself out. Maybe I just got distracted young in life and pursued a career based on making money rather than on what I was passionate about. Maybe I’m not a lazy ass after all. I dunno…then I wonder if I switched that I’d still be unhappy. That’s where I liked Po’s book. A lot of people did get it sorted out.

At any rate, I continue to plug away at work. I figure once my kids are raised I can take another look at making changes in my career…take less money and do something that I really enjoy. Until then, I write and take pictures when I can. I’m glad I can provide for my family and more than happy to keep walking the treadmill for them. I submit my writing to publishers with the hope that maybe someday it will happen. I hope the end of my story is like the ones I liked in this book.

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3 thoughts on “What Should I do with my Life?

  • By Grandma - Reply

    Dad has the blessing of liking what he does. He has a sense of pride in helping people with their networks and computers and gets along with everyone so well they all love him. I think that kind of a relationship with people keeps you happily going. There was a time when his job was stressful before he switched over to computers … when he was more in management and accounting. He does better when he doesn’t have to supervise but just gets to talk to everyone and help them be successful. We are so grateful now that he stuck with the same job for 35 years because his pension package is really a good one.

  • By Brett Nordquist - Reply

    I enjoyed your post and have had many of the same thoughts. While going to college I didn’t really think of what job it would lead to or how much it would pay. I cared about getting an education at the time and felt things would work out down the road.

    Our fathers come from a different generation where there was trust between employer and employee. That’s a thing of past now. We live in the age of Enron and WorldCom. Seriously, do you think the companies we work for care about us? They give us a paycheck every 2 weeks because they feel we are worth MORE than they pay us.

    Our fathers worked the same job for 30+ years. They don’t have a lot to compare to that single job. Work to them was a means to an end. I don’t believe they give much thought to how “fun” or how much passion they felt. It’s a way for them to put food on the table. There’s a sense of pride there.

    I couldn’t describe it any better than your mom did in her last sentence, “stuck with the same job…” You and I don’t want to be “stuck” to any job. That’s a key difference.

  • By Kim N - Reply

    I really enjoyed this post. I have thought about this too. I think a big part of it is a generational thing. I would bet that neither Dad nor Dave would say they felt “stuck” in their jobs and they were pretty happy with what they did. There was probably somewhat of a “duty” felt to stick it out, but also a satisfaction in doing it. I think in both of their cases they are also in fields that they are interested in and they enjoyed the people they worked with.

    I know for me the environment and people I work with have as much to do with my happiness in a job almost as much as whether I have a passion for it or not. I have even had the same job and loved it at times and hate it at times depending on who I was working with and who my manager was at the time. I could do a lot of things if I was able to work with people who are friends and have some freedom to have fun while working.

    I have also enjoyed the jobs I have had that I really felt I was helping others. I loved working at the group homes for ARC, although, I don’t think I could have done it forever. It is a time of my life that I look back on with fondness for the friends I made and experiences I had, but it would have been hard to do it for more than a few years.

    Interesting subject! I look forward to reading more comments about it. C’mon dad! Let’s hear your thoughts about it.

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