April 12, 2021

Career Advice

Finding Fulfilling Work is not a Cliché

By: Lane Koch

I saw a viral TikTok the other day where a woman was making light of having to go into work and “be fake” for 8 hours. The video was funny and certainly relatable, we’ve all had those days. 

There are 168 hours in a week, and we spend at least 40 of them working. So at least a quarter of our lives are spent working. Shouldn’t that motivate us to be hell-bent on finding fulfilling work? 

In my freshman year of high school, I first learned about the complicated abortion debate. In my innocence, I was mortified. This was the first policy issue I took interest in. I researched and asked a lot of questions. The pro-life cause made me an activist. Only later did I realize that this was the beginning of my political career. 

My freshman year of college, upon the sound advice of my Harvard-educated college advisor, I took “intro-to” classes to find a major that interested me. I took Intro-to Social Work, Journalism, History, and Political Science. At this point I had volunteered on many campaigns and was currently volunteering for the 2004 Bush Presidential run. While the Social Work and Journalism degrees would have allowed me to pursue careers that could have the potential to do a lot of good, I just wasn’t excited about them. I felt the same as the woman in the TikTok. It would just be a job, not a passion.

I decided to make my profession what I had already been spending so much of my time doing for free. I majored in Political Science, kept hanging out in campaign offices, and learning from the best. And I never looked back. 

If you are looking to find fulfillment in your work, it’s not too late. There are two big lessons here that can be a road map for you. 

First, what makes you angry? What issues do you find yourself being drawn to call your elected officials about or get in arguments with strangers over on the internet? Pay attention to your emotions. If something is triggering you to be mad, sad, or even animated that might be an indication that you’ve found your calling. One person cannot tackle all the world’s problems, but we can each take a problem and dedicate our life to making an impact. Second, what do you do in your free time? Is it something that you could monetize? Is someone doing it and making money? If someone is, you can too. You might not be able to quit your day job immediately, but you could start building and see what happens. I wanted to start writing more. I work full-time as a political consultant, but I started putting myself out there for writing opportunities. I started a blog and wrote consistently on social media. A year later, writing is a solid additional stream of income.

How are you spending your 168 hours each week? If you have a more demanding career than the average person and work 60 hours a week, sleep 8 hours a night, you still have 52 hours to workout, see friends and family, and pursue your professional side hustle. Who knows, some day it could become your full-time pursuit! In the meantime, you may find much more joy pursuing your passion, even if for free or in limited hours. After all, we are the causes we fight for, not the titles we hold.