Being in the market for a new career and all, I've been thinking lately about the nature of work and how what we do defines us.
My esthetician, Galina, loves her work, whether it's vacuuming faces or scraping the bottoms of people's feet. And that makes sense - she's damn good at it and she owns her business. So she's got the satisfaction of doing a job well and she's got control over how she approaches her job.
Jamie's job is going to be ending about the same time as mine, and we were discussing our philosophies about work and identity the other day. We're on opposite spectrums of our careers - she's in her twenties and I'm ... not. But we both realise that we strongly identify ourselves by what we do for a living. To me there is nothing sadder than the sight of a woman my age working at KFC. I don't know if it's snobbery on my part, or maybe that I feel I have to boost my self-esteem by doing something more meaningful, perhaps a bit of both, but I think primarily it would be the utterly soul-destroying boredom of spending your days contributing to heart disease and coming home smelling like a deep-dryer at the end of it all.
Oddly, both of our men-folk seem to have a much different attitude toward work and identity. Jerry is looking at retirement at 52 or 53, and says that he's happy to pump gas at Esso or stack shopping carts at Safeway for a few hours a week just for something fun and non-taxing to do. He works in a high-stress high-responsibility position now, so I guess the brain break would be welcome. He would have no problems telling people he pumps gas.
The same is true for Jamie's fiance, from a slightly different perspective. He says he would be more than happy to drive a back-hoe for $80,000/year. He doesn't need the status, he'll take the money.
What about you?
What motivates you in your career? What's important to you? Money? Status? Creative freedom? I'd love to hear about it.