This summer Adam and I started watching the series, House of Lies, with Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell. Its a fantastic show, but very cynical and rather depressing. Most of the characters are positively vile and it reveals the dark underbelly of the corporate consulting industry.
Watching it was a reminder of all the reasons I hated the corporate world and working an office job. Ah man, it was never for me! My first job out of university and I was clinically depressed within 2 weeks.
I realize I am unbelievably lucky. So many people dislike their jobs, but are unable to leave them. Because of my incredibly supportive husband, who has a stable job and health benefits, I was able to transition to an entirely new career. One that is unstable and doesn't pay well, but that I LOVE. I love my work and I am so grateful for that because for so long I thought that was an impossibility. I went down the entirely wrong road, and I blame both my parents (for emphasizing prestige and stability as important factors when considering a career) and myself (for letting fear and self-doubt hold me back from pursuing what I should have in the first place - med school or a PhD in clinical psychology).
Nevertheless, I still managed to get to a place I want to be. I am self-employed, have a flexible work schedule, work with people, help people, which gives me a great sense of fulfillment and have a career that always challenges me both professionally and personally, which helps me grow, not only as a counsellor, but as a wife, mother and friend too.
If you don't love your work, I encourage you to explore your options. Its never too late and you never know what's possible until you look! Its so important to get intrinsic satisfaction from your job, after all, you spend more hours doing it than virtually anything else. You spend more time at your job than you do with your family for goodness sakes! Job strain and dissatisfaction can have a negative impact on both your physical and mental health. If you don't love the actual work you do, at least find a pleasant environment to do it in. For women, in particular, having positive relationships with coworkers is extremely important.
Unfortunately, one of the reasons we often fall into jobs we dislike is that we are forced to make decisions that affect our career path when we are too young to know what we want or to fully understand the implications of our decisions.
Because of my own experiences, here are some of the things I plan to discuss with the girls when they are considering their post-secondary education options: (I wish someone had asked me these questions when I was 17 and choosing university programs!)
1. What do you enjoy doing/what is your passion?
2. Are you comfortable with risk/financial instability?
3. Do you want to work flexible hours or 9-5?
4. Do you want to sit at a desk/computer most of the day?
5. Do you want to work for others or for yourself?
6. How important is income?
7. Where do you want to live?
Of course many 17 year olds may not know the answers yet, but I think if they keep going back to these questions as they move forward this could help guide their decision making.
Do you love your job? If you could do anything, what would you do?