No job is filled with creativity and stimulation 100% of the time. And yet we’re all born with passions that should be fully explored in the search for fulfilling careers. They’re out there; are you rushing to find them? Do you squeeze the most juice from each day? Maybe you love the outdoors; choose one of countless jobs that has you experiencing sunlight over fluorescent lights, breathing natural air rather than that from filtered air conditioning. Maybe you love food; choose one of equally countless jobs that has you preparing, cooking, creating, serving, owning. Do you get the idea? Choose!
Tradeoffs, of course, are an inevitable part of life. When making such decisions (and make no mistake, they are decisions) with purpose and integrity, they can be both useful and unselfish. If you’ve got a family to support, kids to feed, working 50 hours each week in a less-than-ideal job can itself be ideal for a period of time.
Even under this circumstance, however, never stop learning; never stop striving. Earn an advanced degree nights and weekends. Continue the relentless quest for the job you literally can’t wait to engage with each day. Complacency is the rival of personal and career fulfillment; as such, doggedly pursue happiness. It’s your constitutional directive, as basic as free speech and essential liberties. Waste not a moment.
And staid corporate culture is hardly the only viable option these days. Entrepreneurial companies abound in today’s economy, which can offer flexibility and encouragement to committed free spirits. In a New York Times interview, Dan Ruch, chief executive of Rocketrip, a business travel software company, is frank about what he and other CEOs are seeking in employees:
Accountability is really important. You are accountable to your team, and part of accountability means being responsive. So it’s not O.K. to not respond to an email. If you’re that kind of person, you’re not going to be here for very long. You have to be responsive, usually within 24 hours, and usually much faster than that.
Unread emails give me anxiety, so I read absolutely everything, and I will be one of the most responsive people in the organization, always. That’s not necessarily a good thing, because what I’ve noticed happening is that the whole team has started marching to the beat of my drum, and my drum beats mornings, nights and weekends.
That could lead to burnout risk. But it’s not something I want to change. I love what I do, and I want the people on my team to love what they do, too.
We also give an ownership stake to everyone. There is an administrative cost and burden to doing that, but it’s not the point. What matters is the emotional attachment, the empowerment that employees feel when they own a part of the company.
Make a beeline for employment agencies. Run with education and self-improvement. Dash toward the nearest job fair. Learn as much as you can, with a sense of urgency and love of life that knows no slack.
You’ll never be bored.