“What is the perfect career for me?” I asked myself that question throughout most of my twenties. Try as I might, I repeatedly failed at answering it.
This made me believe there was no such thing as a perfect career for me. It existed for others, but not for me. I only arrived at an answer after failing as a scientist. It was after that failure when I realized that there indeed wasn’t a perfect career for me. It didn’t exist.
I had to create my own perfect career.
This article is going to show you why finding a perfect career is impossible. I argue that we have to instead create our near-perfect career. There is no such thing as a perfect career.
The article will elaborate on the new phenomenon of “bullsh*t jobs” which are mushrooming in our civilization. I will provide a way to identify whether your job is bullsh*t or not (although you probably already know). I also provide an alternative to doing meaningless work.
The perfect career doesn’t exist. But the near-perfect career does. It’s up to us to know ourselves so we can act to create it.
Finding A Perfect Career Is Impossible
I honestly believe there is no such thing as a perfect career. Due to the fact that every career will have a side to it which we don’t like to do. Some teachers love working with children, but abhor the planning and micromanaging that comes with the job.
The short of it is that every career comes with its own bag of doodoo. Therefore, the best choice we can make for ourselves is choosing a career which comes with a bag of doodoo we don’t mind holding.
Muhammad Ali said: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'”
Muhammad Ali hated his training! Yet he desired to be a boxing champion so much that he put up with the grueling physical and mental training which it took to get him to the top.
When I was in science, I disliked most parts of my job. I disliked that I had to spend my time in a noisy, smelly laboratory; that I had to work with dangerous chemicals; that I had to learn so much about such a tiny fraction of the universe that it might as well be meaningless, and that my work was far removed from being of any use to anyone. I believed that my job was meaningless.
I think this is the case for most PhD students.
My career in science came with a humongous bag of doodoo. Meaninglessness is the biggest bag of doodoo there is. So I left. That was before I realized that meaningless, bullsh*t jobs, like the one I was working in, are much more common today than most people realize.
Bullsh*t Jobs – They’re Quite Common
A BS job is one that doesn’t create anything valuable. In other words, if a BS job didn’t exist, nothing would change.
Please watch this 6-minute video of the late professor of anthropology David Graeber on the five types of BS jobs he identified.
I’ll list the 5 types of BS jobs here:
- Duct taper
- Box ticker
- Task master
Does your job qualify as one of the five types listed by Graeber?
When I was a scientist, I was a flunkie. I was supposed to be doing scientific research, but I didn’t. I just hanged around the office all day, making sure I pretended to look busy when someone walked past my desk. I did teach chemistry courses for a few hours a week, that was valuable. But the focus of my job was doing scientific research, which I didn’t do.
To be fair, the job wasn’t supposed to be a flunkie job. I made it into one. Of course, I refused to see it at the time. But in the back of my mind I knew. I knew my job was BS.
How Did This Happen To Me?
Turns out that I was not alone. In this other interview of David Grueber by Brian Rose at London Real, he says that vast swathes of the American economy are dedicated to doing useless work.
In his book “Bullshit Jobs“, Graeber even establishes that about half of all societal work is pointless and becomes psychologically harmful when combined with a work-ethic that links self-worth to work.
This is interesting because capitalism isn’t supposed to do this. Competitive, capitalistic firms should not have employees doing useless work.
Yet they are. Why?
Because we have a dumb idea of what work is! I rarely call anything dumb, but I’m doing it here. Like Grueber says in the first video, we have gone from the concept of work as being the creation of value to valuing work for it’s own sake.
Old School Work Created Value
In the 19th century, work was viewed as the way humans made the world better through their labor. Engaging in work which provided a useful good or service for someone was morally good and brought one closer to god. It was the good ol’ protestant work ethic.
Today, that is not the belief held by millions of people all over the world. Many of us today unconsciously believe that work for work’s sake is valuable.
By believing that work for work’s sake is valuable we accept doing meaningless work.
As an example of meaningless work, imagine someone asks you to dig a hole and fill it back up. According to the 19th century conception of work you will have done no work. You didn’t make anything valuable, so you wouldn’t get paid.
But according to today’s conception of work by digging up that hole and filling it back up, you will have created value. The work is the value. Today, you would get paid.
This is why people believe that hanging around the office looking busy will make them look good. It’s really just wasting time. And time is our most precious resource.
How dumb is that?
Why Else Would I Pretend To Be Doing Work?
Why else would I pretend to be doing work when someone walked past my desk? I wasn’t doing anything valuable, according to the 19th century conception of work. I was pretending I was doing something valuable because I wanted people to believe I was working. Because, to me, work for work’s sake was valuable.
I wanted to con people into believing I was creating value. And the university paid me for pretending to work. I was getting paid to dig the hole and fill it back up.
I was far from being the only one doing so.
Think about it. Our civilization’s valuing of work for work’s sake is the only way that millions of people can get paid for doing meaningless jobs. Somehow, the unconscious belief that work for work’s sake is valuable has wheedled it’s way into the hearts and minds of millions of people.
How did that happen?
To be honest, I don’t know.
But I used to believe that work was valuable even if it didn’t make anything. That belief made for a lot of wasted time. Time which I will never get back, which I could have used to make myself better or relax. You know, do real work or prepare myself to do real work.
Do You Value Work For Work’s Sake?
This is an essential question to ask ourselves today. Valuing work for work’s sake leads to tremendous wasted effort and time. I should know. I pretended to work full-time for about two years.
I hated myself for doing it. I felt like a parasite. I didn’t speak about it to anyone or even acknowledge the feeling. I just thought that was the way things were going to be for me from that point onwards, so I should just accept it. I’d pretend to work, get paid and go home to wallow in my mediocrity.
I learned that pretending to work kills our self-respect. I often write that humans have a primal need to matter; to be needed in people’s lives. We need to be of service to others if we want to be happy with ourselves. We have evolved to be interdependent.
Whether the service we provide is taking care of grandchildren or running a billion-dollar firm, it doesn’t matter. What matters most to our self-respect is providing value to others in some form. Whether our service begets a monetary reward is another matter.
What About People On Welfare?
But, you could ask, what about the people who live off the government dole? They seem do be doing alright.
Do the people who live on welfare seem happy and healthy?
They don’t seem like it. It’s as though their human vitality has been drained from them. I’ve never lived off of welfare and I never intend to. But I felt like I was on welfare when I was working in science and believe me, it’s soul crushing. I’m against universal basic income for this reason.
Human beings need to do meaningful work to feel whole. It’s our lot in life. There’s no escaping from it.
We might as well create the best work we can for ourselves.
You Have To Create Your Near-Perfect Career
So far we’ve covered that every career comes with its own bag of doodoo. We’ve also covered that some careers today are flat-out useless.
All this means is that we need to minimize the doodoo of the career we choose while ensuring that our work is meaningful.
We have to create our near-perfect career. But how can we go about doing that?
You Are The Creator Of Your Circumstances
If you currently work a job that comes with a bag of doodoo which is too big for you, I have good news.
You are not destined to be the type of person who works that job for the rest of your life. You just aren’t. The choices you’ve made have landed you where you are, but that doesn’t mean you’re permanently bound to your circumstances.
You have the power to change your destiny. You have the power to create your perfect career. It starts with your choices.
It’ll take time. It’ll take work. Real work, not the dumb kind. It will be hard. But hard is good; it means you’re challenging yourself to do something new.
If you start investing the time and energy now to change your destiny there will come a day when you will look back and be so happy that you chose to change.
I thank past Erick almost every day for the courage he had to leave his meaningless job to pursue meaningful work. He didn’t even know what meaningful work was for him! But he set out on the journey anyway.
It’s because of his choices that I can sit here and write about all of these meaningful things. I find them meaningful, at least.
So How Do You Create Your Near-Perfect Career?
There are three steps to doing this. They’re simple steps, anyone can implement them. And I mean anyone. What causes most people to fail is that they lose patience and give up. Remember, you’re only defeated when you decide you’re defeated, not before.
Another reason people fail is they take massive risks without knowing what they’re doing and end up deep in debt. So the caveat to the two steps is the following: Be patient and don’t take massive risks on ventures you have no experience in.
If you’re patient and take tiny, manageable risks every day, you will succeed. What do I mean by manageable risks? For example, facing your fear and reading up about that business you want to start. That’s a risk; you’re wagering your time and energy by learning about something which might not work out in the end. But it’s a tiny, manageable risk. Winning that bet will get you that much closer to creating your near-perfect career.
Are you with me?
Here are the three steps:
- Know yourself
- Take creative action
- Repeat as many times as necessary
That’s it. That is the fundamental formula for creating your near-perfect career. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
1) Know Yourself
How can you create a near-perfect career if you don’t know what you want? That’s why you need to know yourself, so you can create what your heart truly desires. Desire is the engine of all achievement. Knowing yourself allows you to know what you desire.
So don’t be bashful with your desires. Dream big. Swing for the fences. The more your imagined near-perfect career gets your heart going, the more work you’ll be willing to put into it. Your desire will keep you on course when you face the difficulties that will certainly come.
You can never know yourself fully, because you’re infinite. But you can always know yourself more deeply than you do now. Read these articles so you can know the steps you can take to know yourself:
- How Can I Succeed In Life? Know Yourself
- How To Discover Your Gifts
- The Power Of The Moment – Be Here, Now
- What Is The Science Of Meditation? – Systematic Training Of Attention
2) Take Creative Action
The second step also makes perfect sense. You need to create your near-perfect career. It doesn’t exist yet. You are a unique being so your near-perfect career is going to be unique to you! No one is going to offer it to you. At least, I don’t believe so.
I have written several articles which can offer guidance on creative action. I invite you to read them:
- Do What You Like Doing
- Unlock Your Creative Genius – 5 Habits
- What Is Creative Fun? – The Key To Our Power
- The Age Of Creativity – It’s Here!
Go Forth And Create Your Near-Perfect Career!
I hope this article has inspired you to take the steps required to create your near perfect career. They are simple, they are reliable, anyone can do them and they don’t require you to pay some guru who will tell you what to do.
The best solutions to our life’s challenges will always come from us. The same goes for our near-perfect career. No one can tell us what it is. It’s up to us to use the tools we have at our disposal and craft something which makes us excited to get up and work every day.
Such a career exists for you. Please believe me on that. If you want, read my story so you can understand where I’m coming from.
You Can Make It Happen
It takes time and consistency. I won’t lie to you, it has taken me 4 years of diligent work to create a career I enjoy with a small-enough doodoo bag I can handle. It has been four years of getting to know myself, taking creative action and repeating over and over again. There have been many failures, it’s part of the learning process.
The journey has been astoundingly rewarding.
I created this website to serve people who are going through a similar experience as mine. Four years ago I would have loved to come across a website like this one, which presents honest, reliable, first-hand information and powerful tools to empower ourselves.
We all have the power to craft our life to order. It takes knowing what we want and going for it while being ethical and committed to serving others. It also takes time. Our lives have a certain momentum to them, changing them is a gradual process. Each day you change in the direction you want to go in is another victory.
One day, once enough victories have accumulated, everything changes. So stay the course and keep moving in the direction you want! Tiny steps, taken every day, can lead us to paradise.
What’s your near-perfect career?
To our wealth and success.