I have come to learn through my experiences that values can be built. The notion that your values need to be fit with the value of jobs is definitely essential but the context has changed a lot since then. I don’t see job now as static that you stick to the job description and perform to the best. Now when you get a responsibility, you can always create ways of delivering it. At least, in my profession, luxury of that exist.
While I was reading an article on World Economic Forum which titled “Growing number of people are feeling that their work is useless. Time to rethink the meaning of work”. Interestingly, these growing number of people are managers, CEOs, consultants who have the highest pay, incentives and other aspects. The article clarifies that it is not talking about sanitation workers, the teachers and the nurses who if were to go on strike will create an instant state of emergencies. What is the essence of work? Should it be associated with meaning that people are searching for in their life to make it well-lived?. How do you determine the essence of work? Ultimately, everyone wants to make society or world little better through their work. Internally, nobody wants to spend the majority of time feeling worst in their job. They don’t want to drag themselves through the work that does not have any essence. David Graeber, an anthropologist coins the term “bullshit jobs”. Bullshits jobs are the kind of jobs that exist for the purpose of making people work. In his words,
“It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working” – David Graeber
There might be lot of bullshit jobs out there and it might be obvious to see no purpose in that job. However, people do experience lack of value in even the meaningful job that society or world cannot do away without it. I consider teaching job as meaningful in that sense. One will see two teachers going into class to teach. One is highly frustrated with the thought of going into class, teaching and dealing with students. The teacher may not see the value in his/her job of teaching. Then there is another teacher who is joyful to go each day in class with something essential to deliver. He/She sees the value of making an impact on students and further has a vision of competent humans in the world. Both, of them have a same actions to perform but then the essence they have attached to it makes all the difference.
The two teachers that i am referring to is not two individuals but the examples of how i existed in past and how I am now. There is no change in the context in the before and after scenario. There still exist disagreements with authorities approaches, their myopic vision and the stagnation that exist in the job. Possibly, I will not be able to change the context that revolves around what I do. The context does have an impact on what I do. They do slow down my contributions and creates unnecessary obstacles. However, they don’t prevent me from making my life meaningful nor they fill me with bitterness as in past. I don’t imagine sweetness flowing out of someone who is bitter inside. Thus, it is important for me to maintain that sweetness in order to make the kind of impact that I envision. My core purpose is to serve the newer generation by being a useful medium in their learning process. I have associated meaning with it.
A perfect job that fits with your values and gives you meaning is fanciful. Even if you land into a perfect job (the one that you believe is meant for you), with time and the presence of external environment will stop holding a meaning or may become monotonous. Also, I don’t think job itself can create meaning for it. It totally depends on the perception you hold and how externally affected you are. I imagined teaching to be the most fulfilling job for me but then with time, meaning vanished from it. I thought consulting projects would make me happy because you are supporting organizations to function effectively and efficiently. But, when your action plans turns into just another documents, it stopped creating any meaning. There will always be things that are beyond your control that will belittle the outcomes you contributed or prevent you from achieving it in the first place. Probably, it is human nature that wants more and more. The nature is such that it cannot settle with one outcome.
For sustaining meaning in the job or work you do, create your meaning to it and hold an inner awareness to one’s self. Have internal criteria such as; seeking competence, doing best that is possible for one to do because doing itself can be an achievement. The complete involvement in the process also creates experiences that are fulfilling. Most importantly, don’t evaluate yourself based on external criteria. External criteria could be the amount of money you possess, the position you hold and the perception people hold about you and so on. With the passage of time and doing same thing everyday, work do appear valueless. Even the air we breathe everyday goes unnoticed but it’s value to our existence is unquestionable. So, making a job valuable is totally in our hands. Once i created value in my job, I am always super excited to go to class, engrossed in learning to make my classes effective and seek different means and methods everyday to facilitate rich learning environments. I am aware that this has enhanced my capabilities to function. Whatever, I may do I will always create values in it. It is also applicable to other aspects of life. Is life has a meaning to it? Yes, because I have created one.
“When you live by chance, you also live in fear and anxiety. When you live by intent and capability, it does not matter what is happening or not happening, you are at least in control of what is happening to you. It is more stable life.” – Sadhguru