A few months ago, I hosted a series of questions on my Instagram story asking my followers (specifically young professionals) where they were at in their schooling/career process, if their current position was fulfilling their calling, and what their overarching goals/dreams are. (Bear with me if this is not your phase of life, as I'll tie in these findings toward the end of this post!)
While not an official scientific study, below is what I found out, and I bet that these responses don't vary with responses of other people around the world:
Over a third of responses stated their job is not fulfilling their calling; over a third of responses stated that their job/current state did not pertain to their degree, and every in depth response I received provided lofty, elaborate dreams that each person wished to obtain at some point in their lives.
But why does this matter, and what does it mean?
Here's what I've learned from these responses, talking with friends, and working in a full time job for the past year:
Our passions change. Over a third of people on this poll stated that their current job/phase of life does not pertain to their degree. But why? To me, this says that through experiences or opportunities provided, people's realities and dreams change - and that's OKAY. Over the course of my life, I've wanted to be an interior designer, GM for the Braves, and a race director (among being a Disney Princess). This can also mean that you're unsure of what you want to do - and that is also okay.
Another thing I've learned from this is people are not being fulfilled in their current positions. This can stem from a variety of reasons. For one, jobs are hard to obtain. The most qualified people can struggle for months to find work - and half the time this work does not push them towards their goal. Another reason, although a little brutal, is that it's a part of life. As a young 20 something, we have to put in the time to work our way up. And while it's hard to admit, people in this generation, myself included, want the best, highest paying, top leadership job coming out of college. This is not a bad goal to have, but we also have to remain humble and take time to learn.
Finally, everyone has dreams worth pursuing. Might I add, your dreams are worth pursuing even if they change. For a majority of 20 somethings, you've graduated high school and entered college or the workforce, with a dream job in mind. You've worked unbelievably hard to get there and when you finally do, it's not what it's cracked up to be. And if you haven't heard it, let me be the first to say that's okay. When we step into that first job, we begin to realize what we truly love to do, what our gifts are, and what we are called to. Your current position may not fully utilize your gifts and passions. If this is you: be where you are for the time being, gain the best experience you can in your current position, volunteer or network for opportunities outside work hours, and find your why. Seek where you can best use your gifts and in time you will find your why and find the right fit.
Let's look at this from a gospel perspective. I want to preface that there is so much more about who you are or what you will grow to be than your position at work. I also want to add that we are not promised a perfect job, work situation, etc. Do a heart check - if you're unhappy in your work because you don't like the monotonous tasks or responsibilities - those tasks will be anywhere you go, but if you feel a strong tug on your heart that there is more for you to do - pray through that and don't be afraid to step into it.
What we can do is use our current and future situations, like work, for the advancement of the gospel. Finding your "Why" isn't just your career. It's your home life, friendships, relationships with coworkers, etc. Your "Why" is your mission - to advance the gospel - THROUGH what God has gifted you.
Breaking this down more: why do we work? We work to provide for the mission of making Him known. And when we work, we should do so with all our heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since we know that we will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ we are serving (Colossians 3:23-24). Our attitude in how we work should reflect Christ and impact those we work with - on a daily basis.
So if work is supposed to be honoring to the Lord, but we are also encouraged to use our gifts and passions for the gospel sake - how do these intertwine? How do we find our "Why"?
Diving into scripture, there are different gifts, but of the same spirit, different ministries, but the same Lord, different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person (1 Corinthians 12). We are a diverse body, but unified because we are a part of the same body. A body has two arms, two legs, 10 fingers, and 10 toes. If we are called to be one part, but try to be another, the body would not function properly.
Finding your why begins with knowing what your gifts are, followed by using them. God has given us unique gifts, and He expects us to use those gifts (wisely). We often let fear keep us from using our gifts, and we sin when we let those gifts diminish. Spend time in prayer asking for discernment on your gifts; ask trusted friends what they see your gifts as, or take a personality/aptitude test that can help guide you to what your gifts are.
As you go through this process, you will find out what your strengths are and how you can use them for the advancement of the gospel. Determining your gifts can lead to a career change, or they can encourage you to take a step outside the realm of work. Remember, no gift is unimportant, and just because your gifts have led you to be an engineer or a receptionist, doesn't mean you don't have equal opportunities to share the good news. Once you find your why - don't set limits on what God can do. We certainly won't regret using these gifts and keeping open minds with where He can take us.
Resources: Welcome To Adulting by JP Pokluda, 1 Cor 12, Colossians 3.