If any of my readers know me personally or have ever read my blog, they know, with certainty, I love my job. I feel like a fish in water or a pig in slop. My job is just so, well, meeeee.
When anyone asks me how to find out what they would like to do for a living – and I do get that question quite a bit- I respond with another question; “Who has a job/career that are you jealous of?” By jealous, I do not mean the horrid relational and destructive type of jealousy; rather I mean who has a job you would really like to have -a job you covet. When you answer that question -provided the job is at all realistic and not respond with stating you want to play center for the Lakers as an overweight, 5′ 2″ 36 year-old, well, then, you have the answer. (On second thought, have you seen the Lakers record this season? I may have to rethink my unrealistic job example).
Since the age of 18 I have envied Communication Studies (then Speech Communication) professors. When I sat in their classes, I would think to myself ‘they are teaching the stuff I absolutely love and center my life around while GETTING PAID.’ Bastards, I thought -easy money for hanging with me. Yet make no mistake…they were teaching me loads in the process.
Then, years later, after wading through the waters of “other” endeavors, I became one. A verified and certified true Speech Teach.
This was a dream come true as I always thought I was not qualified. I had to pinch my new speech ass to make sure I was living in reality. I never lacked self-esteem though I did lack self-confidence. I suppose I loved and believed in myself yet somehow always seemed to set my goals and expectations far too low, never believing I actually possessed the skill set for such a position.
Damn was I wrong. I do. I really do.
So I have enjoyed the position of a full-time, tenured Assistant Professor for about 10 years now. I have heard it said that the occupation of professor has one of the highest job satisfaction rates. Duh.
On a personal level, we, essentially, have an empty nest as well. I now have time in my life I have NEVER had. No more kids to run to games, coaching, parent-teacher conferences, etc…the list goes on. So now I find myself in a bit of a dilemma, tension as it were.
Do I now just lay in my deep tub of professorial contentedness and wallow in the waters of safety, comfort, and security? Or, should I extricate myself from the lovely tub and begin striving for bigger and better things, even within academia? I have blogged on similar topics before, yet this time I am specifically referring to the seemingly contradictory state of contentedness versus the process of creating some ambitious goals and objectives for life.
I am a firm believer that those who accomplish some of the greatest feats of humankind are those that possess an intense drive and hunger to succeed. They have internal motivational motors that dwarf the normal person. They are never satisfied with what they have and continue to strive and drive for more.
I am not that guy. Not even close. Never will be. I love being in the moment far too much.
Yet now I find myself asking the question as to whether or not I should take take one foot out of that aforementioned warm tub of contentedness and begin creating some more ambitious goals for myself. Can one be both completely content in the moment and simultaneously ambitious and eager to strive for bigger and better things? Let’s face a hardcore truth about human beings: The more comfort and security one has in life, the more difficult it is to set ambitious goals that risk upsetting the contentment cart. Why eat when your not hungry? Why run when you are happy walking? Why wake when you can sleep?
I have heard countless stories (I guess ’cause I was not counting) of people who tragically lost their jobs…and it was the best thing that ever happened to them. Why? Cause it got them off their ass to begin the process of finding comfort and security once again, and they usually end up in a better place.
Now, hear me out. The last thing in the world I would want to happen to me is to lose my job -a job I love. Yet can I, can WE, have the gumption and fortitude to strive and drive while being so comfortable? I suppose every individual has to answer that question for his or her self.
In his excellent article on the same subject, blogger Brian Kim suggests that when we find ourselves in a state of personal contentment, a state I currently enjoy, it is time to take it to the next level and begin the process of striving to help others in need. He observes and asks the rhetorical question, “What if Ghandi strove for a million dollar paycheck and a beach house in Hawaii?”
Point taken. I guess we would have one less movie (I’ll be here all week!). It is time to be ambitious in a quest to make the planet a better place.
I like that.
I will now begin my journey to discover what ambitious role I can play in healing the planet. I realize I am only one small man in a vast universe and perhaps my role may be considerably small -even if it is just continuing to train others how to use their voice. Who knows?
In the meantime, it is a blessing to bathe in the warm tub of professorial contentedness as I begin to seek out a world of possibilities. My suggestion box is open.