The Quest for Purpose

Every so often, I go through the following mind-boggling scenario in my head: Should I go back to school ? Usually, this goes away when I get so busy at work that I can’t even think about it or when I’m having such a good time away from work that I can’t possibly imagine spending any additional time on anything else “not absolutely necessary”. Well, this is one of those times. I am wondering should I go back to school ?

Usually when I ask myself this it is, I can wholeheartedly say, because I am not wholly satisfied and challenged in my professional life. Partly that’s due to the nature of the job that can be rather repetitive at times, partly my fault because I haven’t tried hard enough to mold and shape my job into what I want it to be. But the latter is not always possible or desirable when you’re in an industry you’re over all somewhat fed up with. – Lately, I’ve been studying at work to take my current career to the next level, and I realize how much I like to study. Does that make me a freak or a failed meant-to-be academic ??? Either way, what is behind my current deliberations about going back to school is that I think I would enjoy it.

I usually make the claim that it’s not that easy to just drop everything and break from your professional path, get into a new line of work, and just be happy. Even in this day and age where people change jobs more often than cars, hair-dos or aftershave, going from one job in marketing to another must be easier than leaving a whole industry and breaking into another. So usually the question: “How am I going to use my background/resume in THAT field ?’ shoots down any initial ruminations about career change.

That’s when I start thinking about going back to school. Getting another degree, something that will substitute for the lack of background/resume in my next career (whatever that may be). But does that make sense ? Okay, if I wanted to be a doctor, yes, I’d have to go to med school. But hey, I’m a geologist,  don’t want to transplant organs or prescribe pills, i just want to do something different, and if it should be related to what I’ve been doing, great. So is going back to school in your mid-30s a silly first career change move ?

That depends, you will say, on what you want to do. Right. What do I want to do ? My problem usually is that I can’t decide among the many things I’d be interested in. I could make a long list of sciences I’d like to study and areas I wish I knew more about. Call me a wanna-be Rennaisance man. What I am missing is that one area I’d call a passion, that would make me blind to all the other distractions, make me feel like pursuing one thing meant neglecting another. But I seriously doubt that many people do. You can enjoy your job a lot. That doesn’t make it a passion.

So instead of passion, maybe I should ask: how about purpose ? Do you need purpose ? Purpose ain’t bad. Some purpose would be great. I won’t be too demanding, don’t have to end the mother of all world wars or save the world from a meteorite impact. A little bit of purpose would spell meaning, meaning might bring fulfillment. Too many jobs are devoid of purpose. Producing, marketing, stocking, selling, re-selling, renting, re-possessing products the world could easily do without, in my humble opinion, has no purpose other than making money (inflating GDP and debt) and providing “busy work” for people. That probably includes about 50% of all jobs in engineering, marketing, design, advertising, sales, banking & finance …etc. They always say the biggest chunk of GDP is consumer spending. There you have it !

 Admittedly, I am being rather restrictive in what I consider purpose – something of a greater purpose. Yeah, yeah, I know, I am sounding like an idealist, not a realist. But if I can’t dream, then why wonder about career change !? I already have a job that I am fairly good at, that pays the bills and then some. I am not suffering, and I am not in material needs. I am in dire need for purpose !!! Yes, a part of me DOES want to save the world (metaphorically speaking)…. or maybe… Lately I’ve been thinking someone’s gonna have to make an effort to try to save the planet because otherwise it will go to hell. Could my career change have an impact there ?

I’ve been reading a lot about the planet, its climate, the environmental, global warming, and it’s not an uplifting subject. It’s quite depressing, and I think even more so if you’re a parent looking at your 2 year old wondering what their planet will look like one day. But this somber outlook is very motivating. It makes me want to do something about it. That’s finally where I feel some passion happening. I look around at some of the bullshit about energy and global warming in the media, some of the back and forth in the political campaigns about e.g. off-shore drilling. Everyone is wasting precious time dreaming up bullshit fairy tales of how we might continue the insane lifestyle we as the West have been enjoying, instead of facing the grim reality that things are going to have to change. Or else. It’s unbelievable, and it’s got me pretty pissed off at times.

Might this then be my Eureka Moment ? A call to action (or arms)? I’m not much of a religious person but I’ve always envied those who claim they’ve had the kind of spiritual moment that results in going to seminary. The kind of experience that in one way or another defies so many reasons to not do it. How many moments like that do most people have in life ? One might suggest that a frequency plot of number of moments against cumulative population percent starts with a few per lifetime for less than 1% of the population and quickly reaches 1 event for 5% of the population before hitting zero at about 10% of the population. Or is that being unfair ? Do most people have those moments and just ignore them ?

It’s fair to say that at this point I am as (more) confused as (than) before but at least, for now, I’ve gotten it off my chest. So, thanks for your time. If you’re in any of the jobs lambasted above, don’t take it personally. By the same or similar measure, the job I have now doesn’t cut it either. But right now, I am more motivated than ever to do something about it. Like I said, I am even thinking about going back to school.

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2 Responses to “The Quest for Purpose”

  1. […] perfect job would have to a perfect balance of purpose, personal interests, and personal growth, for starters say 33% alotted to each. Purpose is merely […]

  2. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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