In the years after college, I worked for a few different companies of varying sizes and industries. My co-workers were from all type of backgrounds and of various ages. Yet, no matter the company or person, the same issue kept popping up. It appeared, on the surface, that the majority of the people I worked with disliked their jobs. Dig a little deeper, and you will find that they were dissatisfied with the type of life they were living.
The majority of the people I worked with had the same routine. Every Monday they would complain that it was in fact Monday. Then, they would spend the next five days wishing it was Friday. They were literally asking me, “Is it Friday yet?”, Even though they clearly knew it wasn’t even close. These people wished the majority of these days away so they could escape into the weekend. This type of behavior was irrational to me but accepted as commonplace in today’s society.
We have become a world that tells you that you are not supposed to like your job. We rationalize that you are not supposed to enjoy anything about your day job and therefore it is okay to be in a constant state of dissatisfaction. Not only that, but there are several million dollar companies who profit based on this state of mind. Examine the advertising for alcohol, food, and travel-based companies. You will find that they prey on your need to escape your day to day life. Personally, I reached my breaking point.
I had to figure out what was going on. I had to discover how so many people were so unhappy, for so much of the week. Is it possible that EVERYONE does HATE their jobs? I began to look into this by surveying my co-workers, contacts, and college graduates. What I discovered, was much more complicated than a pure disdain for working.
In my surveys, I asked questions about the person’s past. Specifically, how they spent their time in high school and college. What did they regret and wish they could do differently? I probed into how hard they worked, what they learned, and how ready they were for the real world. What I learned, as many people had no idea what the real world was going to be like. They were completely unprepared for life after college. They had gone through high school and college with an “I’ll figure it out later” type of attitude. Then, when later came, they were thrown into a world they knew nothing about, forced to take a job they did not understand and ended up living a life they never intended on living.
It is not that EVERYONE has a deep HATRED for working. It’s that a lot of people did not understand what working full time entailed. They didn’t know the time, energy, and resources that go into being an adult and having a career. If they had, they would have paid more attention in school. They would have taken choosing a college and major more seriously. They would have worked towards a career that was going to bring them satisfaction and pride. Instead, they did not do these things. This is how we ended up where we are today.
How do we fix this problem? We fix it by inspiring younger generations to learn from our mistakes. We need today’s high school and college students to understand what the real world is like. To understand the importance of taking advantage of the opportunities that education can give you. We need to educate today’s students on the importance of researching the right education and career paths for them.
The first way to do this is to throw out an age-old question. Almost every student I have ever spoken too has been asked the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. To me, this is a fundamentally flawed question. It is flawed because we are asking students at a very young age to decide what they want to with the rest of their lives when they are unsure what the options actually are? They do not know what each careers entails. This includes the day to day tasks, type of education needed, salary range, and work schedule. This is like asking someone to order dinner without telling them what restaurant they are going too or letting them look at the menu.
So, the student takes a guess. They choose something they think will make them a lot of money or whatever their parents believe they should do. Then, they choose a college and major based on this guest. Finally, they enter the workforce and take a job they do not know much about. This is where they realize that it is not what they thought it would be, and they become like the co-workers that surround them. Dissatisfied and disappointed.
We need a new question. We need to begin asking students, “What Type of Person Do You Want To Become?”. When we ask this question, students are no longer beholden to one job or one career. Instead, they are opened up to a field of opportunities of the type of person they want to be and the impact they want to have on the world around them.
I walk each student through this entire process in my book, To The Next Step, as well in my coaching and teaching strategies. Once a student completes this process, we begin to list out all the possible jobs that are connected with the type of person they want to become. Then, we go to work networking and researching. It is imperative that if a student feels it may have found the career path for them, that they connect with those who are already doing that job.
By connecting with these working professionals, you can ask them questions about their work. What do they like? What do they not like? What is there day to day like? What did they study in school? What advice would they give someone pursuing the same career? The answers to these questions will provide you with the information you need to make the best possible choices about your future.
This type of research and networking will also prepare you for the real world and workforce you will soon enter. You will now know what will be expected of you. What your day to day life will be like and if it is something you are going to find fulfillment and satisfaction in. You will be able to use your remaining educational years to build the habits and gain the knowledge necessary to succeed. Most importantly, your job will align with the type of person you want to become.
You will go to work each day with a specific goal, person, and life in mind. No job is perfect. You will have bad days. However, if you are working towards something you believe in, you can come home most days with the satisfaction of knowing you spent your time well and made the impact you wanted to make. This is how you build a life you will be happy to live.
My challenge to you, if you are a student, is to begin to think about the type of person you want to become. What in your life makes you feel satisfied and fulfilled? Begin to answer that question and start your journey. Take control of your education and your future. Understand the importance of being prepared for the next steps in your life.
If you are a parent or educator, I challenge you to begin to inspire the students in your life. Motivate them to see the big picture. Work with them to understand the importance of being prepared for the real world. By changing their mindset, we can get them to take their education seriously. This will allow them to make the right choices when it comes to their future so they may end up living a fulfilling, purposeful career and life.
Kyle Grappone is the founder of To The Next Step, an educational coaching and services company designed to prepare students for the next steps in life including college, entering the workforce and the real world. He offers several student-focused services including one on one coaching and on-demand courses. You can learn all about it at www.ToTheNextStep.org or by emailing him directly at Kyle@ToTheNextStep.org.