Career goals: Is it necessary to love what you do?

career goals, shovels in dirt

You’ve no doubt seen plenty of memes and read many-a-quote about loving what you do and doing what you love in life. When it comes to career goals, recent generations have had it drilled into their minds that they should only take on work that provides them with a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. The idea of working for fulfillment instead of for money to provide for one’s needs has created a sense of entitlement and lack of ambition in younger generations that has been detrimental in many ways.

It’s good to have career goals. However, there’s numerous reasons why a person might choose to work in a particular industry or at a certain job. Sometimes, such reasons are far more practical than choosing a job to nurture a passion or to participate only in activities that are gratifying in life. Not only is it okay, but it’s perfectly normal to not feel passionate about or derive a tremendous sense of pleasure or personal fulfillment from a job.

What happens when people refuse to work at jobs that don’t satisfy career goals?

There was once a young man who had graduated at the top of his class in college as a marketing major. He had big plans and dreams for his life and was developing career goals to help him make those dreams a reality. The problem was that he was unwilling to do work that he considered menial or that didn’t align with his desire to earn a certain amount of income within a certain amount of time. When the young man’s dreams weren’t panning out after he’d been out of college for several years and was unable to obtain employment in his chosen field, he knew he needed a job — any job. He secured a position at a package delivery warehouse but quit after several weeks of employment because, as he put it, the work was “too hard and boring.”

The position paid $20 per hour. The young man worked several other jobs, none of which he felt passionate about, before deciding to go back to school and get a different degree. It’s not unusual for people to change career goals as they mature or experience changes in life. There’s something to be said for being willing to stick it out at a job that you’re not passionate about if the work and the income are serving a purpose at the time. It’s okay to be willing to do less-satisfying work to help make ends meet while you keep your eyes and ears open for future opportunities that align with your career goals.

Finding work that you love is a perk for career goals, not a necessity

While some people might say it’s settling for less if you take a job that you don’t love, others understand that life is not all about personal pleasure and happiness. If you’re working full time at a job you don’t like, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with changing career goals. It’s a good idea, however, to assess available options before quitting. Is it better to be employed at a job you don’t like but that provides for your needs or unemployed and unable to pay your bills because you’re only willing to do work you love?

Sometimes, career paths are based on practical needs and decisions rather than deep passions and life dreams, and that’s okay! You don’t have to give up your dream. You just have to find a way to earn a living until the opportunity to make your dream a reality is available.

Recent generations are unhappy and anxious

Not only where career goals are concerned but with life in general, millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2015) have often shown themselves to be unable to cope with everyday life. Studies show that these generations often have a sense of entitlement and get upset if things don’t go their way. More than 17% of people in these generations suffer from depression, and many say they suffer from anxiety as well.

A common factor among such groups is that they are far less willing to work at jobs they don’t particularly like than past generations might have been. Older generations worked for survival. They often performed menial labor just to earn a paycheck to keep the utilities working and food on the table at home. Somewhere along the line, people starting wanting more, while at the same time becoming less willing to work for it. It’s okay to not be working at your dream job for the time being. Developing a positive attitude not only helps you persevere, it can make the job you don’t like more likable.

Government assistance programs backfire

Unemployment benefits and other government assistance programs are intended to provide emergency relief to individuals or families in need. Such programs are meant to provide temporary support until a worker or family can get back on their feet. Laid-off workers often bring in more money while unemployed than they were when they were working. This isn’t truly helping anyone, and it certainly doesn’t help our country.

A study from the University of Chicago in May, 2020, stated that two-thirds of workers make more money unemployed because of assistance programs than they earn while working. In fact, some people say that benefits doubled what they earned from a paycheck.

What’s the solution to a lazy workforce problem?

I knew a man in my childhood who had emigrated from Italy. He and his brothers started a concrete and brick masonry business. His sons and nephews eventually worked alongside their elders, and the business is still thriving today, after more than 50 years. I once asked this man how he was able to come to a new country and start such a successful business with a severe language barrier and so many disadvantages. This was his response: It’s simple. We were willing to do the work that the lazy Americans didn’t want to do.

His words had a significant impact on me, and I’ve never forgotten that conversation. As I grew to adulthood, I began to observe people. I learned that my Italian-immigrant neighbor was right. There were a lot of lazy workers in America. If anything, it’s gotten worse over time with people being unwilling to do a job for the sake of providing income to make ends meet. The man from my childhood may not have had lofty career goals when he entered the United States through Ellis Island.

He was hoping to find a way to earn a living to make a better life for himself and his wife. He was willing to work. In fact, he was willing to work HARD, and that’s exactly what he did. He raised six children on the income he earned through his concrete and masonry business. His immediate career goals at the time may have simply been to find a job to survive. Because of his willingness to work hard, he not only survived — he built a legacy. It’s great to have career goals, as long as it doesn’t make you unwilling to work.

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