Do you get Monday morning blues? I get them now and then. Logically speaking, work isn’t that unpleasant. After all, it is just a bunch of duties to be carried out. We head to an office or sit at home and get a set of tasks done. In return, we get paid at the end of the month. It certainly is a fair deal. So, why do we dread going to work? Three of the Most Common Reasons People Quit their Jobs, a study conducted by Fortune, states bosses as the number one reason, followed by poor work-life balance. The third reason is when one is a misfit for the job.
I can personally relate to the third reason well. Having been placed in a top IT firm right after graduation, I believed my life was sorted. But my happiness was short-lived. Soon, I realised that it was not my cup of tea. Though I was satisfied with my income and appraisal, I did not particularly enjoy the job. It was just the monetary rewards and appreciation that kept me going, despite my qualms.
Like me, many take the career path of least resistance or choose one that is considered prestigious by society. The harsh truth is that a good majority of us are clueless about what we want to do in life. Most of us are unaware of our true calling. Television host Oprah Winfrey once said: “I believe there’s a calling for all of us. I know that every human being has value and purpose. The real work of our lives is to become aware. And awakened. To answer the call.”
Some are lucky that way. They manage to figure out their life’s destiny. For instance, in the novel Atlas Shrugged, the protagonist Dagny Taggart knew she wanted to run a railroad when she was 12. Howard Roark from the novel The Fountainhead knew he was born to be an architect.
Not all of us have it easy like Taggart and Roark. Let’s face it. Discovering our true calling might involve several detours. Take Santiago, the protagonist of The Alchemist. While on a journey to find the treasures of Egyptian pyramids, he found himself in an unexpected role. From a shepherd, he’d turned into a crystal merchant. However, Santiago found meaning as a merchant, and he carried out his duties with enthusiasm. In the end, both the roles became part of a universal plan to help him find the treasures.
Perhaps, like Santiago, it is good to be open-minded and live out diverse experiences, while on a journey of self-discovery. After quitting my job, I started experimenting. Being a music composer and a lyricist, I enrolled myself in a music production course. Parallelly, my love for English drew me towards writing. Eventually, an entrepreneurial streak surfaced in me and I went on to pursue a masters in marketing. And still, I have not figured out the purpose of my life. But my diverse experiences certainly provide me with clues to map my destiny.
Often, we may not appreciate the importance of such detours right away. But we may eventually understand their purpose, no matter how remotely they might be related to our true calling. Celebrating the positive aspects of all the detours we take in life can go a long way in keeping us happy. The jobs we do need not be our true calling, but they still have a rightful place in our destiny.
Work could mean different things to different people. For some, work is simply a means to provide for the family. For others, work is all about being able to advance oneself and be the best at whatever they do. Some find satisfaction in suitable work culture, no matter the job. In fact, a 2010 research on organisational behaviour, by Montana State University, shows that realising the importance of work and the difference it makes in our lives increases motivation and personal fulfilment.
Though finding meaning in what we do increases work satisfaction and keep us happy, researches show that workers who pursue their calling are most content. In a case study published in the American Psychology Association, Professor Stuart Bunderson explores the work-life of American zookeepers. According to his findings, many graduates choose to intern pro bono at zoos, despite being eligible for a plethora of career opportunities. In fact, they continue to intern there until a full-time position opens up, despite their meagre income, he finds. Clearly, these zookeepers’ love for animals runs deep. They are happy to have found their calling.
Indeed, a calling makes any job we do more personal. After all, if we are aware we were born to do something, we would rather not walk away from it. There are some amongst us, who are content with their jobs because they make a living out of their true calling. Shashank Shukla, a friend of mine, quit his engineering career midway to pursue his passion for gardening. He slogs day in and day out, in dirt and mud, tending to plants.
Once, I casually enquired Shashank about his work. He replied with a nonchalance that he doesn’t “work”. Indeed, he is among the few who get paid for a hobby! My friend’s outlook reminded me of a quote by the American musician Marc Anthony: “If you do something you love, you do not have to work a day in your life.” It is true, isn’t it? Perhaps, every day is a Sunday when we love what we do.