From an outside point of view, my current job “should be” a “dream job”. I’m working as a costume shopper for the stage. I get to touch beautiful fabrics everyday, spend hundreds of dollars at Bloomingdale’s, participate to the making of beautiful shows with the most famous singers and designers in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful to work there : I have very good work hours, a decent paycheck, good relationships with my colleagues and I love opera. So what’s wrong ?
I’m currently reading “The Gifts of Imperfection. Let go of who you think you are supposed to be and embrace who you are ” written by Brené Brown, thanks to my friend Eva who offered me this book. One of her chapter talks about “Cultivating Meaningful Work”.
In the past I had some work experiences that made me feel like I was high all the time because despite the challenges of the work, I just felt a deep sense of purpose and accomplishment.
From my experience and what the author Brené Brown says, there are 3 important points that need to be fulfilled in order to make us feel happy about our work.
We all have talents. By cultivating and sharing our talents with others, we create a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. However, ignoring these talents can badly affect us. When we don’t cultivate our inner gifts (= the things we are good at naturally) it makes us feel disconnected, empty, frustrated, ashamed, disappointed. It can even lead to a sense of shame or grief.
Sharing our gifts/talents is the most powerful source of connection with the world that surrounds us.
I personally feel even more meaning in my work when I deeply commit to a project. Commitment happens when I use 100% of my talents to do the work. When I commit to something, it sometimes becomes scary cause I never know if I’ll be able to achieve the goals or end up with a good result. I think reaching this vulnerable place in my work brings me a sense of purpose because I can see the process of growth. If I don’t take any risks then I’m not really committed to it and I Iose a sense of purpose/ I get bored.
I think the achievement can take different forms. There is the achievement of getting a reward (money) for the work we’ve done. But reward can also be the result of the work which can be a product, a resolution or a change in a situation.
If our work is disconnected from the final result because our tasks are micro-managed, then it becomes frustrating. We don’t get to see the purpose of what we do and the sense of achievement is not really fulfilled.
I think my current job is rewarding because I work at an institution that I admire for its work and I have a feeling of belonging to this place. However I don’t use 100% of my abilities and I don’t have any real sense of commitment because I don’t get to make real choices or decisions that would imply to put me in a vulnerable place. It’s relaxing in a way because this job doesn’t bring me any anxiety but it’s not very rewarding in the sense that I don’t really get to feel like I’m evolving, resolving problems or achieving anything bigger than just a task that is disconnected from the final result.
What’s your dream job ? How do you find meaningful work ?