A blogger friend of mine, Harvey Ramer, wrote an interesting article about whether people should work at jobs or start their own businesses.
He noted people who like the freedom of being an entrepreneur often urge others to pursue self-employment, while those who like the security of a job usually nudge people in that direction.
In reality, both are great options. It depends on the individual.
Harvey recalled asking two seasoned citizens sitting next to him at a Florida coffee shop what rewards were the most important to them in their careers.
“I’ve never thought of what I do as work,” said the first, grinning. “I have been a recording engineer, music producer, and the owner of several companies. I always woke up looking forward to the day ahead.”
The second retorted, “Don’t listen to him. I modeled the right path to career success for my children. Find a job nobody else wants to do. Do it well, and distinguish yourself. That way, you’ll have security and make a ton of money!”
Both men had prospered in their careers — one working for himself and the other working for a company. The common denominator for both situations was the men saw purpose in what they did.
Personally, I am unemployable. I have worked so long as a self-employed business owner that I would last all of 10 minutes in a corporate job. Even when working for other companies, I bristled at the routine of driving 30 minutes to an office just to sit in a cubicle typing away on the company’s computer for eight hours, with exactly 30 minutes for lunch, then driving home again.
I also found the cubicle environment to be highly distracting. It wasn’t the noise that bothered me so much as the constant interruptions by people wanting to chat or “collaborate.”
However, I know a number of people who relish that type of work environment. They loved knowing what they would be doing day after day, year after year. Every day, they put forth a lot of effort to perform the jobs to the best of their abilities..
While that type of routine was familiar and comfortable to them, I was often bored out of my mind. That’s why everyone’s version of a “ideal” or “dream” job varies so widely. We are all wired differently regarding the type of work that holds our interest.
Harvey was correct in noting we cannot allow jobs, whether at corporations or in self-employment, to become the cornerstone of our identity. He believes work simply provides resources for making our lives even better.
“All work, whether we love it or hate it, is a means to an end. An ideal job sparks our intrinsic motivation, but our self-actualization is not the aim of employment,” Harvey wrote. “Our daily labor enables a company to achieve its strategic plans. It is a potent force for good.”
That’s so true. Jobs themselves are only a way for companies to accomplish their goals. When we find ourselves so wrapped up in a job that we neglect our families and our health, then things need to change.
What matters most is whether we are able to achieve what we want out of life as a result of our jobs.
If a job is little more than a paycheck, then you’ll feel worn out at the end of a very long day. However, if your job provides genuine purpose for your life and you love doing what you do — and the experience comes with a paycheck — then you’ll enjoy a level of work satisfaction that others only dream about achieving.
A good boss will always ensure the right people are in the right jobs. It’s painful all the way around if someone who hates sales is working at a job that requires calling customers and taking orders. But, if the person loves creating sales promotions, then a job in marketing may a better fit.
Both jobs involve working with the same company to sell the same products. The only difference is the approach to specific tasks. One position motivates and the other wears a worker down.
If this applies to you, then have a heart-to-heart conversation with your boss and see if there is a way to shift your responsibilities to a position that gives you more energy and better utilizes your talents and interests. If the company isn’t open to making a change, then it may be time to find a new job.
Even a self-employed person needs to make sure the work he or she is doing is meaningful and aligned with the overall mission.
For example, ghostwriting books has created income for me in the past. But, the projects are incredibly frustrating for me as well as time consuming. I’d much rather apply my skills to writing shorter articles than complex book projects.
“Even if you love your job, there will be tasks that require sheer willpower. A good work ethic presumes that there will be days that deplete our energy rather than producing joy,” Harvey wrote.
“But gradually realizing an ambition to achieve a mission creates emotional resilience. It enables you to face even your worst days with hope,” he added. “The end toward which we work must be compelling enough to overcome any internal and external resistance that comes our way.”
If you are working for someone else, Harvey recommends three strategies to serve as a foundation for empowering yourself and navigating the uncertainties of at-will employment with greater confidence. He outlines those strategies in his blog at www.flaremark.com.
Whether you are 50, 60 or even older, the key is to engage in work that brings you joy and leaves you feeling fulfilled at the end of the day. It will not matter whether you own a business or work for someone else.
After closing his business and enduring several painful years of uncertainty regarding what to do with his life, Greg founded Forward From 50 to help men and women over 50 to live more purposeful lives by pursuing things they are passionate about. A Wisconsin native, Greg currently lives in Arizona.