LINDSAY MCGREGOR AND NEEL DOSHI, writers for FAST COMPANY report that after performing thousands of interviews on workers, the reasons we work come down to three things: Play, Purpose, and Potential. Further down on their list come items such as economic need and and emotional pressure.
I’ve worked for 30 years now in sales, training, business/non profit start ups and talent management/coaching. When I read this list my first thought was: “Yay!! They nailed it!!”
In a time where our economy, government, career progression, retirement, health care and education all seem to be in a constant state of change, our career paths can become equally confusing. Engagement in the workforce from the age of 20 to 67 seems daunting. Forty-seven-ish years of working creates a question for many of us: why do I work?
Fast Company landed on one leading reason. Play. We want to enjoy what we are doing. We spend decades working and we have an innate need to enjoy that work. When someone says to me they don’t like their job or have grown bored, I immediately encourage them to start a career evaluation process. Whether it is using our Career4Me process, a Birkman inventory, Career Coaching or simply researching new careers, it is so important that we have a map for our career and find joy pursuing it. This doesn’t mean that every job will be fun, but each job should be either terrific or a necessary part of your development.
The second reason to work is Purpose. Many people mistake this to be the great “why” of our very existence. I encourage people to be open minded about what that Purpose is. Providing for a family is a great purpose. Paying off debt is a great purpose. We all want to have a purpose that changes the world, but sometimes we need help to be clear that purpose can mean many things.
I will note here, that some of the most purposeless people I have encountered during career coaching are the rare people who don’t have to work due to an inheritance, trust fund or windfall. They have had plenty of time to “play” and have a difficult time finding a Purpose worth their focus. The need to earn a living can be a perfect purpose.
Lastly, we have Potential. One of my favorite companies to consult with hires many young people and gives them tremendous opportunity for growth. A person in their 20s can be running a large piece of the business and leading the careers of several dozen people. From the time they interview, team members see the opportunities for advancement and growth. It is a shared partnership with the company. Opportunities for training, development, mentorship and advancement are readily provided based on performance. Each person has the same opportunity and can set their pace for growth. (If you’d like to learn more, see blog on Millenials to understand more on this generation in the work force, or check with us on training for optimizing Millineals. )
I’m known for telling people “you can have it all, but you may not be able to have it all at once” when it comes to balancing career and personal life. In this case, I applaud FastCompany for their data and also pass on that you don’t have to have all three of these at the same time. The goal in career planning is to develop a plan so you can have them all in the right timing.