The Power of Purpose

As very privileged teenagers growing up with primarily Western influence, I think many of us have been asked about what we want to be when we ‘grow up’. In the past year, I know I’ve been asked that question around three or four dozen times, and to be honest, I don’t think much about it anymore. Usually I answer something along the lines of “nothing’s set in stone quite yet; I have a lot of different interests”. When I do actually take the time to think about it, though, these questions do make me wonder, and sometimes worry:

Do I need to know exactly what I want for a job?

Does it have to be one thing?

Do I need to have my future; the next five, ten, twenty five years all figured out?

Is one job really my whole future?

And is a job my sole purpose in life?

After more reflection, and a lot of discussion, I’ve come to the conclusion that, well…

No.

No, I don’t think I need to know exactly what I want for a job;

it doesn’t need to be one thing;

I don’t need to have my future all planned out;

one job is not my entire future; and,

a job is not my sole purpose in life.

This may differ for you, but for me, the answer is simply no.

To elaborate though, I don’t think that knowing what I want as an eventual career would be helpful at this point. With the increasing accessibility to our world, and the expanding possibilities that come with it, boxing myself in so early would be a shame. I’m interested in so many different things, that narrowing it down to only one area and leaving so many others unexplored (simply because Western society dictates that I should already know what to do) makes no sense. As a whole, I generally see value in developing essential skills, like communication, collaboration, and organisation, as well as one’s overall worldview and outlook on life. Having a base of acquired skills, and more intrinsic values provides something to combine one’s interests with, and something to return to when questioning one’s purpose.

Furthermore, I do think that a contributing factor to our collective tendency to rush stems from the fact that we ask questions like these. Perhaps as a result of our fixation on the future, and the futures of those around us, we often grab for tomorrow instead of appreciating today. Personally, I would feel so much happier if people could engage with me based on what I’m interested in at the moment, instead of what I might eventually do as a job.

This aside, I also wonder why we place such an importance on jobs themselves. Of course ideally working leads to money, which offers value in and of itself, and fulfills our want for more, bigger, faster, quicker. However, I don’t want my job to become the sole thing that I do. On the whole, enjoying what I do in order to survive is ideal, but I do think that there is so much more to life than simply a career. In the same way that we often talk about the importance of looking outside our personal world, and out into our collective world, it’s important to remember that there is purpose outside of a job. Developing different skills and our own values, and staying in touch with the present can open our eyes to the diverse opportunities outside of the narrow career model that we’re often presented with.