“Do something you LOVE.”
“Find a career that fulfills you.”
Our culture today impresses upon students that they can do whatever they set their mind to. And better yet, you can do what you love for a career. Then you graduate high school and attempt to get into the workforce, and everything changes.
Suddenly, you discover that only the ultra-elite DJs ever make it as a career, and it’s a brutally harsh work environment in nightclubs. Playing video games isn’t something you can rely on for consistent income, even if you’re winning tournaments. And fixing up cars in your garage at home does not equate to a passion for automotive service.
My father has been a tradesperson his whole adult life, starting after he ‘graduated’ grade 10. As a machinist, he’s a specialist in his field and one of a very, very few who can perform a certain process on the jobsite. And for nearly 40 years, my dad has more or less done the same high-quality work with his beat-up, cut-up hands, day in and day out.
What he won’t tell you is that he loves being a machinist. Sure, he’s incredibly mechanically-minded and can fix pretty much anything. But for Pops, it’s a career. It’s not a passion.
Growing up, that’s taught me an invaluable life lesson. It’s great to find joy in what you do as a career, but only a miniscule part of the population will find employment in a field that they love. For most people, work is WORK.
Think about all the jobs and trades out there that have to be done, and they aren’t glamorous. Garbage collectors, meat processors, ‘water management’ experts, remedial plumbers – there are plenty of people who do dirty jobs you’d never want to touch.
There are going to be times that you just aren’t ‘feeling it’. You aren’t enjoying your career and dread starting your day. Whether you’re writing work orders at the service desk, diagnosing a Check Engine light in the back shop, or leading a service team, there absolutely will be days that feel like hard work.
It’s normal to have days, weeks, or even longer that your career doesn’t feel satisfying or enjoyable. You don’t have to apologize for it. From more than 15 years in the automotive service industry, I can say firsthand that it can be downright exhausting at times.
Since most of us have bills to pay and mouths to feed, NOT working isn’t an option. There’s a reason we say “going to work”, and not “going to play”.
Want to know why I work? It’s because I love to hunt, fish, ice fish, enjoy the outdoors, volunteer, and spend time with people that I enjoy. I put my automotive knowledge to use so that I can fund all of the things in life that bring me joy.
Sometimes, a job or career just isn’t a good fit, or there’s opportunity to explore different career options. But for the vast majority, the same job dissatisfaction will rear its ugly head at the new post you accept, sooner or later.
Instead of seeking your fulfilment and joy in your career, there will be times you need to focus on the end result – serving customers, co-workers, and managers to the best of your ability so you’re able to do the things in life that bring you joy.
For when times are going really well at your job, use the opportunity to thrive. And when times aren’t going so great, just keep going, focusing on why you work in the first place.