In one of former job positions, when someone asked me how my workday was going, I would respond, “Living the dream!” It was a sarcastic joke.
The point is, I wasn’t living according to my dreams. In fact, I was so far away from what I had dreamed my life would be like, I couldn’t remember what the dream was.
When I reflect back on those days of workplace dissatisfaction, I wonder why I did not change it sooner. I guess I was too comfortable to make that change. I was in a zone of safety. Doing what I knew to do was easy even if it was not pleasurable most days.
I remember always analyzing how my career measured up in terms of serving a greater good in our society. That has always been important to me. Am I contributing to the societal bottom line? Am I making a real or significant difference? Is what I am doing helping or hurting someone in some way?
When I worked for a credit card company, I kept thinking that credit cards put people in debt for the most part, and that is hurting people. When I worked for a for-profit college, I thought about all of the people in debt with student loans who weren’t a good fit to be signed up to begin with (not my role, but I felt responsible anyway).
The only job I felt positive about my contribution was healthcare medical management. I worked for an HMO when they were not popular. At the time, I loved approving ancillary medical services for patients. I could see the benefit there, but I hated when I wasn’t allowed to approve something I believed the patient genuinely needed. For the sake of “controlling costs” I had to deny services at times.
Now, I am a teacher. I see the benefit of what I am doing every day in the classroom and students come back to visit me and tell me about the impact I have made on their lives. Recently, someone asked me how my day was going and I responded, “Living the dream!” This time, I meant it. It wasn’t sarcasm.