Back in the 50’s, when my parents were entering the workforce, choices were different. Many people dropped out of high school in Grade 10 or 11 and got a JOB. JOBs were things like working in a factory or working for your Dad in his hardware store. Or selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. If you didn’t want to do any of those things, you could join the Army. If you were a woman, you had even fewer choices: you were either a housewife or you went to business school and became a secretary.
Getting a JOB in those days offered a few extremely important things. Benefits. A steady paycheque. Bonuses. Security. The makings of a happy life.
These days, we teach our young people to stay in school. Go to college. Get a CAREER. I used to have a CAREER. I was a high-tech worker. It had benefits. It had a steady paycheque. It had bonuses. I falsely believed it had security. I gave it up.
Now, I believe that what I do for a living is not a JOB or a CAREER. These labels don’t fit anymore. Now, my work is what I DO. It’s how I survive, not just financially, but spiritually, and emotionally too. I knew I didn’t fit in to the corporate world. Oh, sure, I did a good job. I got just as many pats on the back as the next guy. But at the end of the day it meant nothing to me. I was doing it for someone else, and that left me wholly unfulfilled.
Perhaps we should be teaching our young people that it’s okay if they don’t want to fit into the mold of a CAREER. But more importantly we should be teaching them HOW to make it on their own if they want to. I certainly didn’t learn anything about owning a business in high school or even college. And that’s not right.
I’m not saying that everyone has to be an entrepreneur. Of course there is room for more than just the self employed. Otherwise, nobody would have any employees! But we need to be giving our young people options. We need to make them aware of all of the possibilities.
On the flip side, there’s nothing wrong with having a CAREER if that’s what you want. Case in point:
A good friend of mine has made a CAREER out of what many would consider a regular JOB. He started many years ago working at a convenience store. In fact, that’s how we met. I lived in the neighbourhood and was a regular customer. I loved watching my friend work, he was so happy in it. He loved helping customers, would strike up conversations with anyone. As a result, the store he worked at was like the social hub of the neighbourhood. After about 10 years as a convenience store clerk, he moved on to work for a large retail chain – a job that pays more but is still, what some would consider, just a JOB. There isn’t anything else he’d rather be doing than working in retail, serving customers. He will absolutely be doing it until he retires.
I bet if you were to ask him, he’d tell you that his work isn’t just a job. It is what he DOES.