4 Tips for Leading a Fulfilling Life with an Unfulfilling Job
Written By Nathan Lee
There are many reasons to keep a job you dislike – not being hungry and living on the street, for example. Entire societies and economies are built on the backs of men and women that drive to work everyday to a job that meets their immediate needs of food and shelter, but denies them the intangible benefit of fulfillment. Maybe you long for a job that helps people, maybe you want a career that explores your passion, but whatever reason you are dissatisfied in your career now, it doesn’t mean you will forever have a job that leaves you with a longing for something…more. And it doesn’t mean you can’t lead a fulfilling life in the mean time. It just means you have to try a little harder.
There’s nothing quite like pouring blood, sweat, and tears into something and then stepping back, admiring it, and saying, “I created this. This exists because of me.” Whether it’s a birdhouse, a song, a painting, or a dirty limerick, creating anything is a great way to express yourself and help patch the hole your daily grind digs into you. So what if your self-portrait doesn’t hang in the Louvre? You’ve added to the world’s collective artistic library, even if you’re the only one who appreciates it. Just think of something that doesn’t exist yet, and then bring it into being.
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” Albert Einstein not only knew his way around science, but he coined this philosophical gem. Find a cause that you care about and then seek opportunities to help. Mentor disadvantaged youths, raise awareness for an illness, man the phones at a hotline, or just help the old lady in your neighborhood with yard work. You can give your life meaning by bettering the lives of others. Everybody wins!
The same desire you have for communication and comfort – the same void where you know things could be better – exists in everyone to some degree. You need your friends, but it’s important to remember that your friends need you, too. Take their friendship when it is offered, and give your friendship when they need it. Keeping this give-and-take balance creates a strong support system for everyone involved, and it is something that no job can directly give you. Not to mention you’ll have an outlet to rid yourself of the funk your job leaves on you, not by unloading it all onto your friends, but by simply forgetting it exists in their presence.
Remember That You Are Not Your Job
This might be the most important step in leading a fulfilling life. Your job does not define you, and it does not tell you whether you should be happy or not. You don’t have to introduce yourself at parties like, “Hi, I’m the person who whittles away 40 hours a week at a thankless job.” You have more to give yourself, your family, your friends, and society than just a means to a paycheck. No one is so simple, so easily condensed into a frame that they can be summed up by the title on their resume. Perhaps you’re a good listener, or a music enthusiast, or a fantastic chef, or a hundred different things. But that thing you wish you weren’t 40 hours a week? That is never the complete picture.