Since my book, In Search of the Fun-Forever Job, was published last year, I've received reviews and comments from readers who thought the title meant the book was going to inspire readers to find that elusive “fun-forever job.” Actually, the title was meant to be somewhat ironic.
Why I Chose that Title
The title came from my daughter who, at age eight, wrote and illustrated a “book” called “When I Am Grownup.” I’m not sure most eight-year-olds would be concerned about professional choices or involved in much self-reflection, but she was the daughter of a career consultant and a psychoanalyst and could hardly avoid this type of thinking. It was genetically predetermined.
In her book, Hannah ruminated about her possibilities. She felt she’d want an “unushowoll” job “that I can do most anything I want in, something like the fun-forever job.” She worried such a job might not be available and considered other options (a headshrinker or a headhunter) but continued to feel concern about even those jobs working out.
What was particularly striking to me was that so many of my clients and students have expressed a similar wish for a totally fulfilling career, as if they hoped to discover their perfect, passionate calling out there somewhere.
The concept of a “fun-forever job” seems funny to me because most people—including, perhaps, Hannah at age eight—knows it’s probably unobtainable. This does not appear to prevent people from wanting it anyway.
Of course there are a few lucky people who seem to have found that fun-forever job, but the number of such people is most likely very small. I’ve only met a few over the years. After all, a job means work, meaning on a daily basis, on most days of the week. Seeking consistent passion puts a heavy emphasis on something that is rarely achieved and often leads to disappointment and discontent at work.
Of course, it’s possible to love a job or be passionate about a career, but forever? Every day? That’s like looking for a lifetime soul mate who’s great-looking, rich, witty, sexy, and sensitive—someone you’ll feel excited about all the time for the entire relationship. I know too many people who think that way about relationships. Definitely not a fun-forever situation, either.
To some degree, the search for the fun-forever job has continued for Hannah, as it has for many of my clients, although they refer to it in different terms. Sometimes, it’ll be “something totally exciting” or the frequent “all I need is challenge,” and other times it’s as basic as “something I won’t dread every day,” or “any job that won’t make me feel sick on Sunday evening.”
What It Takes to Find a Job that Suits You
I believe career development should be a process that includes figuring out what works and doesn’t work, clarifying personal values, understanding personal style, and leveraging that knowledge moving forward. It doesn’t have to be a lifetime or permanent decision. Do you hear that, recent graduates? (Take a look at last week’s blog.)
Sometimes it may mean that your job only needs to be reasonably good if it supports you and provides you with a salary, security, and benefits, and you can gain the passion part from what you do outside your job. Or you might turn your full-time job into a part-time one and work on several different activities and interests outside of your core job.
There are many other permutations; the key is to not put the pressure of the Big Decision on yourself too early and to realize it may take some time to develop a career that works for you. My core philosophy of career development is that you should focus on making the career fit your life, not the other way around.
My own career path, as I explain early in the book, is a good example of the many twists and turns you may need to take to reach that point where you feel pretty good about your career choices. I’ve written about my own experience in the hope that others who find the career development process complicated or painful may understand better that it often involves a series of realizations and changes—sometimes even circling back to what you knew in the first place.
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