I watched a TED Talk yesterday by Tony Robbins titled Why we do what we do?. He mentions that when we tell our boss we haven’t finished an assignment. We haven’t completed that project on time. Or even the goals we set ourselves. Still haven’t written that blog post. I haven’t signed up to that language class I meant to a year ago.
It’s not because we REALLY didn’t have the time. It’s also not because we REALLY didn’t have the resources. It’s often because we weren’t that motivated to do it in the first place. There was no emotion there. No drive. No passion. No real interest. If we had really wanted to do it, as he says, we would have found the resources. We would have asked for help. We would have found a way to do it! And I think the biggest incentive to do something, as he points out in his talk, is when it comes from within, when it’s something you care about. There’s a real ‘want’. Yes, you’re being asked to work on that project. But you fully understand why you’re doing it. You’re excited to get it done because you’re interested in the journey or you can’t wait to see the result. That’s what you want.
And it’s made me think why we choose to do what we do in our lives. Specifically why we choose the job we do. Is it because we are actually interested and passionate about it? Are we motivated intrinsically to do the job? Or instead, are we lured by the money, the status, the social connections that it brings? Why do you do what you do? And does the way you grew up also have an effect on this? For example, if you’ve grown up moving around Europe, does it mean you’re more likely to want to work in a role that involves travel? If you lived in Africa as a kid, and have seen how poor and deprived people can be in certain areas, will this have an influence on whether or not you choose to work in a non-profit organization? Are you more likely to choose a job where you can use your language skills? In sales perhaps? If you grew up as a global nomad, does this influence your career choice?
Or are there certain events in your life that dictate what you end up choosing to do as a career? A tragic event in your life that might affect your choices. Or an internship that turned out to be really rewarding. A study abroad program perhaps that opened your eyes to a different way of doing things.
Is it conversations you have with people you admire that impact your decision? Your dad, who you admire and look up to, who wants you to be a doctor. Is it your high-school history teacher who inspires you and has a serious conversation with you at the end of your junior year of high school?
But the thing is, how much are we missing out on? How many jobs do we not know about ? Because we made a decision when we were 18, 22, 24 years old; we might still be stuck on that same path. What if there’s something else out there that can actually feel like a vocation? Something you are truly passionate about. Something you care about. Something you’d even want to work on on weekends!
What if we were to open our eyes again like we did at 18, 22, 24? And strive to have new conversations and attend new events and meet unique people that might reshape your view of who you thought you’d be and what job you’d end up having. I think we should test ourselves. Are we really in the right job? Are we really living the life we want to live today? Not when we were 18, maybe more easily influenced by others. But what about today, are you where you want to be? And if you aren’t, how about stepping outside of your comfort zone and discovering what else is out there? You could go to a career fair. You could go to a house party of people you don’t know very well. You could go to your alumni event. A start-up event. Those networking events you’ve been invited to. This might trigger ideas as to what could feel more rewarding and more intrinsically motivating. We should spend our lives doing what we really want to do. Not what we thought we wanted to do at 18. Or what others felt we should do.