The world of work can be an absolute minefield. From figuring out what on earth you're meant to do with your life, to cracking just what a 'business-casual' dresscode actually means, it can sometimes feel like one hurdle after another. Throw into the mix a question of whether you're truly fulfilled, or living out your God-given purpose, and the whole thing can be totally overwhelming.
But my suspicion is it doesn't have to be this hard. Here are a few thoughts on how a different approach to work might help.
1. Live The Adventure In Front Of You
The problem facing many millennials, especially, is that we grew up being told we could do anything we put our minds to. The world was our oyster, and we had everything we needed to take it by storm. Except this isn't entirely realistic – NASA has never returned my calls – and it's definitely given us a false sense of entitlement.
We think we deserve a brilliant job and successful career – but actually, we've created an incredibly narrow definition of what success actually is. While most people have figured out that money isn't everything, we've held on to the idea that if you're passionate about something and you get paid reasonably well to do it – you've made it. That's undoubtedly brilliant, but it runs the risk of leaving those whose jobs don't fit neatly into this bracket feeling as if they've failed. When we idolise the idea of work feeling like play, the 9-5 suddenly feels empty, pointless, and by association so do we. Has God let us down?
One way to combat this is to take on a completely different outlook. Adventure doesn't always look like the next exciting project – it might be living well in the place you're already in. Remind yourself of the good parts of your job, and practise gratitude.
2. Push Doors
This sounds like a terrible evangelical prayer phrase (alongside "hedges of protection" and other baffling home/gardening metaphors), but there's some real value in it. If you're really unhappy at work, currently unemployed, or just want to see what options might be available to you, make some calls, go to networking events, check job sites regularly and see what's out there. It's difficult to know whether something might be a good next step if you don't even know what it is.
It might feel really cringey and pushy, especially when you'd rather be watching telly than spending hours updating your CV, but don't be afraid to challenge yourself and apply for a few new roles. If you don't get them: so what? And if you do, it might just be the push you need to give something new a go.
3. But Don't Look For A Booming Voice From Above
Sometimes God speaks clearly – there are times in my life when I've known God has spoken, and I'm certain of what he's calling me to do. Other times, it's not quite so clear-cut. I often think we spend a lot of time worrying about whether something is 'right' or 'wrong', when the Lord has given us grace to make our own decisions. Pray about it, seek him, and make sure you're listening to his steering, but if it doesn't come, perhaps he's asking you to choose your next step.
4. Remember You're Not Defined By Your Job
Whatever your profession, whether it's establishing your own start-up, climbing the business career ladder, waiting tables, or if you're currently out of work – remember your job does not define you. You are not the sum total of how you make money, and your value isn't dependent on it. Sometimes work is brilliant, other times it's just the way we pay rent and keep our heads above water.
Your identity is in who you are, not what you do – and God will use you and your gifts for his good purpose, wherever that might be.