Whether you actively think about it or not, work is a significant part of what makes life worthwhile. It’s an opportunity for you to add value to the society around you, and get paid for the privilege.
Finding a career that rewards you, though, is notoriously challenging. You never quite know how things are going to turn out. And, oftentimes, the answer is “not well.”
Rewarding careers, however, are a little bit like love. People find them in the strangest of places. Almost always, they’re utterly unexpected and seemingly random.
Why does this happen?
Before we continue, it’s interesting to think about why this happens. Why do people always seem to find rewarding careers in the most unusual of places?
For example, why are so many lawyers unhappy? Surely that’s a dream job, right?
Part of it has to do with your expectations going into it. Nobody goes into a manual labor job thinking that it’s going to be ideal work. It’s going to be challenging – and if there are positives, that’s a bonus.
The same is not true of the so-called “professions.” People expect them to be highly rewarding and stimulating. And they work hard to get there. But when they do, they feel stressed, worried, and anxious all the time. There are politics that they must deal with. And their roles somehow feel stagnant.
The difference here is the power of expectations to shape how you feel. Going into work with no expectations actually liberates you from impossible standards. You see the role for what it is, rather than what it should have been, according to the promises you made yourself going into it.
How to make any job rewarding
It doesn’t matter whether you’re applying for food company jobs or legal posts; you can make any job rewarding. You just need to know how to do it.
People often talk about career fulfillment when it comes unexpectedly. They start a job not having any expectations whatsoever – it’s just a way to pay the bills. But as they get into it, they realize that there’s a beauty and purpose to it. Eventually, that becomes part of the emotional landscape associated with the job, and it becomes fulfilling in its own right.
Fulfillment isn’t actually something that jobs themselves do. There are many high-flyers out there who feel utterly betrayed by their work. Instead, rewards are self-generated and come from your fundamental beliefs.
If you feel that you deserve a six-figure wage, but you’re only half the way there, you’ll always feel let down by your career, no matter how much you like it. Similarly, if you believe that you should always be providing front-line services instead of admin, then, again, you’ll feel robbed.
The trick here is to say goodbye to these expectations. Careers aren’t the romantic things people imagine them to be. They don’t always follow a plan. And they’re not always pleasant.
Rewards can come from anywhere. You just need to be open to them.
This is a collaborative post that was ghost written for More From My Career.