How satisfied are you with your job? Bill Hybels asks in Chapter Four of his book Simplify. Welcome back to the fifth instalment of my blog-crawl. Hybles wrote Simplify to combat and inform our tendency toward overwork, exhaustion and over-scheduling. The purpose of the book is to outline healthy practices that will uncomplicate our lives and lead us toward peace.
Finding fulfilment at work, says Hybels, has the power to simplify your life in a number of key ways:
- Energy: if you love your job, time flies and it energizes you; a job you hate sucks the life right out of you.
- Peace: a job with a healthy culture, well-defined roles, clear directions, and properly assigned responsibility levels brings satisfaction because you can focus on the work without having to fight the system. This brings peace at work and in your after-work hours. By contrast, a job filled with conflict, frustration, poor decisions, chaos, inefficiency and an emotionally toxic environment creates an inner turmoil that robs you of peace at work as well as after-hours.
- Self-confidence: a job you love boosts your self-esteem in healthy ways; a miserable job eats away at your self-confidence through ingratitude, petty jealousy, disregard, lack of respect, lack of development, and an invisible ceiling you cannot get past.
So how do you find a job you love so much it will simplify your life? Hybels asks and answers this question — get ready for some babble-speak: I find it helpful to filter the role or position through four foundational alignments: passion, culture, challenge, and compensation. Huh? You mean I can’t just quit my job tomorrow and trust God to lead me directly into a high-paying, appropriately challenging, fun-to-do job in a company surrounded by other fun-loving, highly motivated hipsters?! Dang!
Here are the four alignments you need to consider when assessing your current job or looking for a new one:
- Passion: clearly identify your God-given passion and find a job that aligns with it. If you don’t know how to identify your vocational passion, read Let Your Life Speak by PJ Palmer.
- Culture: bad culture + passion for the work = no peace! In other words, think beyond the “what” you do, and consider where and with whom you work. If you find yourself in a toxic environment that cannot or will not change, look around for a better job placement.
- Challenge: Where do you do your best work? Not when you are under-challenged or dangerously over-challenged, Hybels says. No surprise there. But this did surprise me: not when appropriately challenged either! He invents a new category — appropriately challenged-plus. Here, you feel an excitement, a need for God, a need to work as a team. You’re in just enough over your head that you must swim hard and fast–but you’re not drowning.
- Compensation: Think beyond the paycheque here. Compensation includes satisfaction as well as cash. If passion and pay align, lucky you! If pay is low but passion is high, Hybels says supplement your income. If pay is high and passion is low, use that extra cash to fund your passion.
And finally, Hybels testifies that as a young man, God tapped him on the shoulder and called him into the ministry as a pastor. Already well-established in the business world, Hybels brushed Him off for two years, then rather skeptically decided to follow God and see. Forty years later it is abundantly clear God knew what He was doing! His point is, no matter what your current job is, if God is calling you into a vocation take the risk and follow Him.
ACTION STEPS: ASSESS YOUR ALIGNMENTS. This is where you can peek into the confessional as I work through these steps myself. Feel free to stop reading now since the chapter’s “meat” is above.
Passion Alignment: My job(s) fit well with my passions. I have several part-time jobs: homemaker, caregiver (grandkids), speaker, and writer. Some take more time and effort than others and I would not want to promote any of them to full-time. What works best for me is the variety so that no one role is burdensome.
Culture Alignment: I work either with family or people, mostly women, who pay me to travel to their locale. At home, I have a great deal of influence on the culture so if it’s bad, I (should) take the blame and try to improve it. In my travels, I am not any one place long enough to be overly influenced by culture. If it’s bad, I can soon leave. If it’s good, I enjoy it!
Challenge Alignment: At home, I am under-challenged mentally but I have the freedom, at any time, to up the ante and learn something new. On the road speaking, I was dangerously over-challenged for more than a decade due to my phobic fear and panic disorder (more about that in the Fear chapter). Now that I have conquered the fear I suspect I may need to work harder at developing new material in order to keep the level of challenge in the “needing God” zone. Another possibility is a complete role/job change where I would once again have to battle hard to achieve success. (That was not a prayer, God!)
Compensation Alignment: Lucky me, I have a sugar daddy. Not everyone does. Neither Gerry nor I have been driven by the pursuit of wealth. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the years of penury when Gerry was finishing his education, but we have found a nice balance where we have a comfortable lifestyle and the ability to help others and fulfill our responsibilities. Plus we have the job-perk of paid travel so our lifestyle doesn’t truly reflect our wealth, or lack of.
Overall assessment: I am so well aligned a chiropractor would use my x-ray as a model! How about you?