A few years ago I saw David Copperfield perform in Las Vegas. It was really exciting because I had watched many of his specials growing up and I was now going to see him perform live. It was like a dream… I never had… but it could’ve been; I just never considered it as an option as a kid. When the show started, there he was in front of me in all his magicalness… and he couldn’t have looked more bored. Someone told me he was probably drunk, but that’s not much better. The whole show, it was like he was saying, “Here’s trick… and here’s a trick… are we done yet? Ugh, this feels like math class. It never ends!” Here’s a guy who got into magic because he loved it and is one of the best in the world, yet he looked miserable. His career didn’t bring him happiness, so why is it that as far back as I remember people have been saying we should choose a career based on what we love doing because that will bring us fulfillment? This problem actually follows the trend I see around me in general. For instance, why do most mechanics get into working with cars? Because they love cars. After a long day of work, however, what do mechanics want to do? Anything but work on cars. They likely got into the field because they loved working on their own car, but once it became the job they did all day, it loses the element of pleasure. It used to be the escape from the daily grind, but now it’s part of the daily grind. Choosing a career because you love it is risky because it’ll likely soon become something you no longer love; it’s something you have to do.
The truth is we shouldn’t be looking for a job doing what we love, we should be looking for a job we can tolerate. That’s it. A job is a job. There’s good and bad in all positions. Some jobs have more good than bad, which makes it more tolerable, but that’s about it. This is great news because this takes away the pressure of finding the perfect career. We just need something we can tolerate. Either way, if we choose a job because we love it or tolerate it, our job isn’t going to fulfill us. It can make life easier to enjoy, but a job is always a job. It’s the thing we do in order to make money to do the things we want to do.
So here’s the problem: If a job isn’t going to bring happiness and fulfillment, what will? While some people see their job being the reason they’re not happy, others try to fill the void in their life with travel, thrills, drinking, money, sex, marriage/divorce, kids, or religion, but none of this will fill that hole. There is no one thing that will answer this problem of feeling like something is missing. The answer is actually split into three categories: We need connection with God, people, and ourselves. All three of these are important. Any one or two of these will still leave us wanting because we need all three. Jesus said the great two commandments are to love God and love others as ourselves, which means we need to love ourselves. When He taught this, He wasn’t just trying to sound holy or clever. It is the answer to filling the hole in our lives. We need connection on the three parts. We need to learn how to be self aware and self accepting of our strengths and weaknesses, which will in turn help us be more other aware and other accepting while finding a connection to a higher power frees us of the strains of this world. This reality is temporary and in our spoiled culture it can be hard to remember that because it’s easy to get caught up with money, social media, illnesses, and stresses, but we need to see beyond all that. We need to see the bigger picture.
Please know this is not me trying to be preachy. I’m simply trying to help others see that any unhappiness in our lives won’t be filled by something simple like a job. If it was, then celebrities who achieved their dreams should be the happiest people followed by those who save lives like doctors and veterinarians, but instead I find these careers are filled with people who are disillusioned and lost. There isn’t one thing that can help us be better. It’s more about finding connection in all three areas: loving ourselves, others, and God. This isn’t a new teaching; it’s a forgotten one.
Side Thought: I hear young people say things like “I don’t know what career I should do because I don’t know what I want to do for the rest of my life.” A career, however, isn’t a rest of your life thing; it’s supposed to evolve and lead to new opportunities. A career is a stepping stone. Even in a factory, you can do different jobs and possibly move into management. There’s comfort in the familiar, but we don’t want to go stagnant. We need new challenges and ways to evolve as people. This means picking a career is picking a career “path” and a way to find the right stepping stones to open future doors. This can hopefully take some pressure off the decision because what you choose today isn’t forever; it isn’t a prison sentence. It is the first stepping stone to many others.
This week may you consider how you can find more fulfillment in life by balancing loving yourself, others, and God.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people.