Labor of love or just labor?

A letter writer is looking for career guidance – should she find a dream to chase or accept the day to day?

Our elder has a tip: volunteering changed their life.


Dear EWC

Hello Elder, Thank you for taking the time to read through this. I would like advice on my career/ life path. I have been struggling finding a career path or life path that feels right and fulfilling to me. I find myself wanting more out of the day to day. I love connecting with people, I love helping and I can draw this from many places. I find the typical job to be draining, not sustainable, and see it as a short-lived solution. I feel a strong desire to find a path that is fulfilling and speaks to my heart and soul, I think about what it could be nearly constantly but can never decide or want to put my eggs in one basket usually due to fear of the unknown. What advice do you have for me in choosing something to chase after? Is it more important to be rational or to follow a labor of love? Thank you for reading and considering.


Good-Listener replies

You pose an interesting and complicated question. What may become your career path in the short run, may do a complete turnaround a few or more times in your lifetime. I had friends that started out in one area (advanced degrees) and ended up so far from that – each path fulfilling while it lasted. It’s easy to put pressure on yourself – but know that there is always time (until, perhaps you reach my age.even then!) to make changes.

But let’s talk about the here and now. I don’t know if you are in school or at what stage so it’s possible, you’re following a path now that you aren’t sure about. That’s totally normal! Most people I know weren’t sure what they wanted to do but gravitated as they got older, and their interests and passions developed. On the other hand, my college roommate knew from day one that she wanted to be a nurse. Got her B.S then went on to get a Masters and became a therapist, which extended her entire career (she just retired). However, that kind of certainty is rare.

You could always go the career counseling route – that never worked for me, but it works for some, so it’s an option. What changed my life was volunteering. I started volunteering on a help line at a radio station in the early 1970s and things were never the same. I ended up working at radio stations, record, then film companies for the next 25 years until I got sick of the entertainment industry and started freelance writing (which came about because I took some classes and also volunteered!). What I’m trying to say is that, taking some classes or volunteering for a cause, or in an area that you might have an interest in, may pique your passion and lead you to someplace else. And you can keep your day job while doing it.

One needs to think about supporting oneself and being financially responsible but I wanted to be happy more than I cared about having fancy belongings. That didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy being comfortable.and having good health insurance, etc. But my motivation wasn’t money – it was feeling happy and somewhat fulfilled each day. And there’s nothing wrong with a job you can have fun in – especially if you’re working with great people

Here’s another suggestion – and it works for any type of job or career. If you are thinking about a type of career, find someone (even better. a few people) who are doing that work you may be interested in and ask them how they got to where they are. You may find valuable information on what to or what not to do, what kind of formal education you may need, or what you’ll learn on the job. Or you may decide the area is not right for you. Again, all of these things can be done without giving up your current position. Or if you are out of work, then make a point of meeting as many folks as you can with whom you may learn something.and taking classes or volunteering. And don’t be afraid to dream a little. I wish I’d had more dreams or taken more risks. Being young is the time to make ‘mistakes’, because you have the opportunity to recover without much damage. Believe in yourself, be responsible, keep an open mind, and investigate the possibilities! Good luck.

Article #: 471915

Category: Career

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