“You will hate any job once you have been at it long enough.” This was the first bit of professional “advice” I ever remember receiving. It came to me from my father when I was in junior high. I remember how discouraging it sounded to me. Let’s face it, I was young and thought I had my whole life ahead of me to explore who I was and what I was going to be when I grew up. How could this be what I had to look forward to professionally?
I am now 35 years old with an undergraduate degree in Agricultural Science and an MBA. What I have learned in that time is that my father was both right and wrong. Since I graduated with my BS I have worked for 4 companies in 5 different types of roles in 3 different industries. In each of those jobs I did eventually grow to find things I didn’t like about each and would get the itch to find a better fit elsewhere only to find the same situation in the next position. Was my dad right? Should I just settle in and accept that I will probably just dislike the work?
What nobody told me until later in my career is that if you don’t work in a job that meshes with your own personal values you are going to find it “uncomfortable” at best. For example, if you highly value accountability but you work for an organization where accountability isn’t rewarded or encouraged you will quickly become discouraged with the situation. This however, leads me to my next point, which is that most people haven’t done that important self-inventory of their values. What makes them who they are and what they value. Until you do this important bit of self-assessment you will struggle to find alignment and enjoyment in your professional vocation.
The first step may be simply to write down a list of the traits and behaviors you personally value. From this list you can assess the culture in either your current position or any potential new positions. You may not be able to identify all information on a new role but you will greatly increase your chances of personal alignment. Also, it pays to routinely re-inventory your important values to be sure they haven’t changed with time and experience. What are some ways and/or resources that you use to ensure alignment of your personal values with your professional vocations?
When I got that advice from my dad I was determined to prove him wrong. In the process of doing this I discovered the drive to push myself further and get a better understanding of who I am and what is important to me. Maybe this was my dad’s intent? Either way, I learned a lot from his fatherly advice.