Earlier today, I had the pleasure of speaking with Stephanie Slocum, Founder of Engineers Rising. Stephanie is an engineer-turned career coach, similar to my path of engineer-turned life coach. We chatted about some of the most pressing issues young engineers face in their careers. I am going to summarize some of the germane points here because so many of you will benefit from this knowledge.
When Management Expects too Much
Many of us believe in the concept of job security and career fulfillment. It’s not our fault; this is the way society grooms us. The first problem with this belief is that there is no such thing as job security. The second problem is that careers don’t fulfill people. Fulfillment comes from within.
The ideas of job security and career fulfillment can be negative motivators. You may feel obligated to work overtime all too often. Or, you may feel the necessity to check your email during evening hours instead of spending time on you. These are the kinds of activities that lead to burnout.
If management knows you are a people-pleaser, you allow them free will to overwork you. If you are afraid to set boundaries or to say no, you might suffer from people-pleasing. The reason you are eager to please is due to insecurities within yourself. I promise, if you can clean up your insecurities, you can confidently learn how to say “No.”
Hard Work Equals Higher Worth
It is no doubt engineers and many technical professionals are very proud. And this is fine, there is nothing wrong with being proud of your occupation. What gets people into trouble, however, is when they cannot separate self-identity from job identity.
Too many professionals equate hard work with worthiness. “If I work harder, I’ll be more worthy” is a common belief. The problem with this belief is that people apply it in an attempt to control the future. If only you work harder, you’ll have a better reputation, make more money and hopefully never fall victim to a RIF.
Hard work does not make you or anyone more worthy (see Post #09). As humans, we are all 100% worthy no matter what. Employment is simply a temporary part of your human experience; it does not define your being as a person.
Job Description does not equal self-description!
The Purpose of Your Job
Your job’s job is not to make you happy. It is not to fulfill your needs. This is a foreign idea to many of you as we have been brought up in a society that teaches us otherwise. Happiness and fulfillment come from within, and it is your own responsibility to create those outcomes for yourself.
If this is so, what is the purpose of your job? The purpose is for you to show up daily, do the best work you can with the knowledge you have, fail along the way, learn from mistakes, and grow yourself. The purpose of your job is to amaze yourself with extraordinary accomplishments. Just as importantly, the purpose of your job is to present challenges and obstacles that evolve you into a higher version as you conquer them one by one.
Did you perform your best today, on your own behalf, given all circumstances? Will you lay your head down tonight knowing you gave it your all? If so, then congratulations, you have realized the purpose of your job.