Define “work”. If you google it, you’d come up with this straightforward definition. The two BIG words that caught my attention were “EFFORT” and “PURPOSE”. Now whether your “purpose” is to become the country’s best programmer, the most creative graphic designer in Southeast Asia, a super multi-tasking mother of three, or a corrupt politician without a conscience—-then the “efforts” you put into your work will lead you towards that purpose. Now a lack of purpose means ZERO DRIVE and ZERO EFFORT, causing you to look for the easy and lazy route in your career path instead.
I don’t exactly know why but I’ve received many emails from people asking for advice about WORK. It’s not like I’m an expert in finding work! Sa dami kong ups and downs in my career, hindi ata ako qualified to be giving advice. hehehe! Well, I still enjoy reading these letters because I learn a lot about different jobs and I also use their experiences to reflect on my own work attitude.
Most of the stories are heartbreaking tales about their struggles as an OFW, away from their families and trying desperately to earn as much as they can to support their loved ones. Others have shared their light bulb moments, triumphs in the workplace that have allowed them to work for a cause/ a calling/ a purpose. Most people work not because they enjoy it but because they have obligations and responsibilities to fulfill (80% of the population) and sadly, they do not have the luxury to daydream like the rest of us. Then there are some who are in between (I think I fall in this group), people who have been fortunate enough to choose a career path that is meaningful but also have to face the harsh realities that come with the job. Then there are some who are understandably lost and in a soul searching phase. For the last group, let me address your issues with whatever wisdom I have in this 30 year old brain. I’ve compiled some questions I’ve received from young people via email. You don’t have to agree with my answers, these are just my personal opinions based on my limited life experience. Again, I am struggling too just like you–but I do want to help you because I know how it feels to be drowning in uncertainty. It’s tough and I hope I could encourage you guys 🙂
“I don’t exactly know what I want to do. I want to get a job but I don’t really know what career path to take.” Don’t be too hard on yourself. We don’t just wake up one day with an AHA! moment. Again, back to the word PURPOSE. Start here. Be ambitious but grounded on reality at the same time. List down your best traits, your interests, your skills—then come up with another list with your weaknesses, things you need to improve or practice further, your limitations. Then from there you could sort of reconcile the pros and cons and come up with a plan. Now the next step is to actually GO OUT THERE and experience life. Volunteer, Apply for an Internship, Talk to other people in the field you are eyeing for tips and helpful info. Arm yourself with all the knowledge and experience you could possibly gather then from there try to see if it would be a good fit for you. It will take time so just be patient and don’t pressure yourself too much. What matters is that you WANT TO WORK, you WANT TO MAKE A MARK—that is still much better than having no drive at all.
“There are things they are making me do at the office that I’m not passionate about! Why do I have to do these things?! I’m supposed to JUST do things that make me happy! ” At home, I have to take out the trash after washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen—am I passionate about collecting and sorting trash? Heck NO. But I am passionate about my job as a wife, and as a homemaker I want to make sure our condo is clean for my husband to enjoy. As a former preschool teacher, I had to wipe poop, kulangot, sipon (and all gross things kids excrete) and take out spaghetti bits from the hair of my 4 year old students—did I enjoy doing these things?Was I happy during these moments? NOPE. NOPE.NOPE. But I did it because I chose to be a teacher and being a teacher meant that I had to be willing to serve and care for others. There will always be an unglamorous side to any type of job, as long as it doesn’t lead you to compromise your values and beliefs—you gotta stomach it and just do it! Besides, you’ll develop skills you never knew you had which will help you in the long run.
“I hate my boss. He gave a promotion to my officemate instead of me!” then she proceeds to bash this said officemate for another two-three sentences. In my head I’m thinking, if you could write me (someone you don’t even know) and talk smack about your officemate (someone I also don’t know personally)—then I think there’s something your boss sees in you that is not exactly promotion-worthy. Bashing, back-biting, destroying the reputation of others will only reflect badly on you 🙁 You could be the most talented, the most intelligent, the most innovative person in your office—but if you are known for having a negative attitude towards others, this will greatly affect your boss’ evaluation. Remember, it’s not just about your skills and intelligence—your HEART matters too 🙂
“I want to quit. My job is so hard!” Now there are people who actually have the right to say this. If you are a garbage collector in Smokey Mountain who has to endure the stench of garbage day in and day out OR a carpenter who gets 3 hours of sleep everyday walks for miles just to get to a bus stop and spends 10 hours under the sweltering heat of the sun OR if you are an OFW who has to take 3 jobs simultaneously just to be able to pay for your daughter’s tuition—then by all means, you are entitled to at least 6 hours of ranting.
BUT if the challenges you face are still within your physical and mental capacity—things that are “difficult” because it requires an extra effort on your part, then my friend, it’s gonna be a hard pill to swallow but…that’s life! When you compliment someone you say “He’s very hardworking“. You never say “Oh, Mang Pepito is the employee of the month because he’s very easy working.” The word HARD is glued to the word WORK for a reason. There is so much dignity and integrity attached to pure and honest HARD WORK. And the goal of every sensible person is to be remembered as someone who chose to face the daily challenges head on–rather than a quitter who chose the easy way out. Again, if your values are not being compromised and your health and safety are not at risk—then hard work is something we all have to deal with, there’s no escaping it.
“I want to make more money! Gusto ko lang yumaman!” There is no shame in making money. And being lured into a job because of the promise of a big paycheck is something I would totally understand. My husband is the main provider of our family but because I also like “earning” my own money, I still work to bring in some contributions to our family pot. Money brings a sense of fulfillment (paying your bills on time, having enough budget for your groceries, etc). It feels like you’ve received a “GOOD JOB” star when you get properly compensated for your hard work. But let’s go back to your purpose. Money can’t seriously be your ONLY purpose for being in the job that you are in right now. If it is, then you are bound for a life of disappointment. If you are working your bum off, compromising your principles, letting go of your dreams, and abandoning your God given talents just to become rich—you will burn out. You will wake up one day with a vague memory of the person you once were. The ideal is to find a job that you are good at, that you actually believe in, and which will compensate you fairly.
For many there is a burden of having to earn a living to help your loved ones—and I salute you for working not only for yourself but to be able to bring joy to others. If you feel trapped in a situation, working in a job just to make ends meet but slowly losing your sense of self please don’t lose hope. God sees your heart and will reward you accordingly. God will always provide for his children—so focus more on the quality of your work, doing your best in every aspect and the blessings will follow.
“My job sucks! I want to resign. I don’t have time to go out anymore. I wish I could just go back to my life of partying and coming home at the crack of dawn!” Dude, Bahala na si Batman sa ‘yo. Kung wala kang trabaho, wala kang pera, at kung wala kang pera paano ka magpa-party party??? Hmmm? Dilemma.
If you ask any random person about his job, chances are you will either get a smile or a cringe. I believe that God puts us in specific places next to specific people in specific seasons in our lives for a REASON. It is never by accident. At the end of the day, it all boils down to your attitude towards work. Are you giving it your all? Are you producing excellent results? When people see your output, do they see someone who is an asset or a liability? Are you kind to your coworkers /customers and respectful to your bosses? Do you come in on time with an enthusiastic attitude? Do you get things done in the most effective and efficient way or are you someone who wastes time with idle chitchat and laziness? Before you are encroached with a false sense of entitlement (dapat ganito, dapat ganun), check yourself first and see where you stand. Sometimes just a little humility and gratefulness could make you see how lucky you are to be where you are right now.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24