“Just Get a Job”

Just go get a job.

Have you ever said that phrase to anyone? Has anyone said to you? Regardless of who is delivering it, the phrase is often accompanied by a lot of emotion, usually negative. What exactly is a job and why do many people balk at the idea of getting one?

Here are a few definitions of ‘job’: the process or requirements of working; anything a person is expected or obliged to do; duty; responsibility; a post of employment; a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price.

job opportunitiesThe societies of North America are thought to have been founded on a Protestant Work Ethic. The idea behind it emphasizes hard physical labor, discipline and frugal living and dates back to ancestral European cultures. Even though our culture has been redefined over the last 300 or so years, there remains today a stigma, albeit subtle, that worships anyone who follows those guidelines. Your worth is determined by whether or not you have a job and especially whether or not you have a ‘good job’. Herein lies the problem – judging a person based on what they do for a living.

Remember the song Get a Haircut and Get a Real J..? George Thorogood wrote that song in response to his parents’ distaste for his vocation. But during his 40 year career, he recorded more than 20 albums and his current net worth is about $50 million. I guess he didn’t need a real job. Dire Straits echoed a similar theme in Money For Nothing. Obviously, the song’s subject/narrator didn’t consider performing music on TV a real job. In his mind, “that ain’t workin'”.

Many times our career path is picked because of safety – the safety of having money. Don’t get me wrong, it is not the money that is the issue. However, when money is the only motivation, it can lead to a life of dissatisfaction.

Dr. Marsha Sinetar wrote a book, Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow. In the introduction she said, I began to experience a great longing to change my life. The thought of letting go of what I had – a well-paying, secure job – was truly terrifying. I who had always clung to outward forms of security… also ignored the inner dissatisfactions and urgings I felt.

Meg Ryan‘s character in the movie You’ve Got Mail is quoted as saying, “I lead a small life… do I do it because I like it or because I haven’t been brave?”  Jeff Goins says “What most people call being “lazy” is really just fear. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear, fear, fear.”

My uncle worked as a bus driver for 30 years. Upon retirement, he got a gold watch. During the span of his career, he was considered a stable, reliable, ‘good worker’ by his colleagues. I wonder though, how he felt everyday as he got up, donned his uniform and clocked in on another shift. Did he enjoy himself because he was doing what he always wanted to do or did he settle into the job because he made a decent wage? Was it his calling or did he simply do it out of fear? I guess we won’t know. He is in a nursing home now, sitting quietly in a wheelchair. No one can see his gold watch.

No doubt you’ve heard the phrase, that person missed his/her calling. It is often a reference to someone awing an audience with their talents when in real life they work a routine job that they highly dislike. According to author and speaker Craig Hill, “a century ago, people prepared their children to fulfill their calling. Now parents educate children in hopes that they will get a good job or occupation”. We are now working to get money instead of spending time fulfilling our calling.

We’ve lost our vision in the pursuit of provision.

What is the alternative? I hear the extremist stay, “Not work??? We all need money to live”. Yes, in our society, we do. But it was not always that way. My great-grandfather came here from Austria and began farming a piece of land. The Government’s offer of a homestead to immigrants was how he got established. I can’t tell you for sure if he had any money. What I do know, is that he had enough livestock and produce to support his family of eight and on into the next generation. The point is, that the focus was not on amassing a large sum of money. He focused on building a family and a life in which that family could be sustained and subsequently thrive.

We are no longer living because we are too caught up in making a living.

As a result of focusing on money, we have actually destroyed human relationships. Our society has become so self absorbed that we don’t even consider future generations.

Fortunately, not every individual conforms to this mentality. Meet Dale Partridge. Dale is a a serial entrepreneur who teaches organizations about brand positioning. He tells the story of his dad coming home from work and saying, “Dale, I am wearing the golden handcuffs.” What his dad meant was that he had a job he considered too good to leave. But instead of being a disgruntled worker, he turned his attention to his son and groomed him for life as an entrepreneur. It worked. Dale made more than  $25 million before he was 30.

I am not against getting a job. If you’ve got absolutely nothing, go sweep the parking lot at the local burger joint. We all have to start somewhere. What I am saying is, as soon as possible, stop trading hours for dollars and start living out your calling. I am frustrated with hearing from those who would just like to stuff everyone into a box labelled ‘job’. When you stick your hand in the box, you pull out descriptions. They may read, ‘Monday to Friday 9 to 5’, ‘must have post secondary education’ or ‘minimum five figure income’. The point is, this does not allow for an entrepreneurial spirit, giftings or talents.

I am also not berating formal education. If you are called to be a teacher, get a degree and teach. But if your calling is to be a ditch digger, do it proudly and with all your heart. Just don’t settle for a life inside the box. I, personally, can’t count the times people have condescendingly told me to lose the pipe dream of being a writer and just go get a job. But I defiantly refuse. To quote Jeff Goins again, for me, writing is a calling. It’s not something I chose; it chose me. That’s who I am.

Having said that, I know I am setting myself up for a lot of criticism but, ahhh, I am up to it.

After all, it’s my job.