When I was about 25 or 26, a couple of my co-workers were moaning and groaning about their jobs, how unfair the dean was, how unreasonable the job expectations were, how “needy” the students were, and on  and on and on. Finally, I blurted out, “If you hate working here so much, why don’t you quit?” 

One of them glared at me in disgust and disbelief (I was the new kid on the block) and demanded, “Is this what you want to do for the rest of your life????”


“I don’t know,” I replied. “I haven’t really thought about it.” And that was the truth. I hadn’t really thought about it that much at all. I was in a DINK (Double Income No Kids) marriage. We were saving money for a down payment on a house and planned someday to have children, but my career goals were hazy.


One of those gals stayed the course and retired from teaching after 30 years; I’m not sure what happened to the one who was doing most of the whining. I’m still in the classroom, and what I’ve learned from reading, observation, and personal experience is that the right vocation can be the difference between happiness and misery, fulfillment and disappointment, and employment and unemployment.


In no particular order, here are a few ways that a career choice can affect a person:

  • It can determine how much money you make and consequently your lifestyle. A lifestyle comprises a person’ whole way of life, from the food eaten and the clothes worn to the trips taken and interests pursued. Will you vacation with distant relatives and travel in the family car, or will you vacation at a resort and travel by air? Speaking of the family car, will it be luxury automobile, a gas guzzling SUV, a more practical model, or a clunker?
  • It can determine the neighborhood you live in and the type of dwelling you inhabit. Will you live in a McMansion, an apartment in an upscale neighborhood, or a nice modest home in the suburbs? There are lots of in-between options; naturally I can’t list them all. DH would love a little cabin in the woods, while I’d like nothing better than a bungalow by the sea. Can we afford three homes? HaHa.
  • For those of you who are in the child bearing years, your neighborhood can determine where your children go to school and consequently the education they receive. Throw their friends and teachers into the mix, and you can see that those interactions could impact their future.
  • A job can influence your physical and mental health. Work related stress can play havoc with a person’s overall feeling of health and well-being, especially if insomnia creeps into the picture. Some jobs are physically more demanding that others, and there are some that are downright dangerous.
  • Since the workplace puts us into such close proximity with others, it can be the ideal setting for the development of friendship. Just think about the 168 hours we’re each granted per week. How many of those hours do you spend with your work mates and how many with your family and friends?
  • A job can affect your self esteem. How a person views himself is tied in with what he does for a living since his job as programmer, electrician, or accountant is one of his primary life roles. I’m still amazed that one of the first questions I get asked is, “What do you do?” Plus, doing well or poorly, being a success or failure can easily evolve into a sense of personal worthiness…or not.
  • It can determine whether or not you’re employed. As an example, the medical field is exploding with job opportunities, and many people choose careers in nursing because of future potential earnings. And let’s don’t forget computers. Computer technology affects almost every job and every aspect of work.
  • A job can influence what you do with your time, how your day is structured. When you’re off for a few days, it soon becomes evident that work can help create the regularity of life, its basic rhythms and cyclical patterns of the day, week, month, and even year. More times that I can count, I’ve heard someone say something like, “I can’t remember what day it is,” when on vacation.
  • Work can also determine the quality of your retirement years. Will they be bleak or beautiful? Although I couldn’t see it at 25, it wasn’t long beforfe I saw the ultra importance of a good benefits package, including healthcare and retirement.
  • I keep thinking that I’m forgetting something, and I just realized what it was, the most important reason of all:  A job can give you the opportunity to use some of your God-given gifts and live a more fulfilling life. More on this one later.

I can’t remember who said that most people die with their music still in them (Oliver Wendell Holmes maybe??), but I hope you’re not going to be one of them  Think long and hard about your career choice and save yourself a lot of grief.
















Author: jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer

4 thoughts on “Working”

  1. i just try not to do any of it IT anymore…you know what it is don’t you???????????

    Yes, I think I do. Still, I know you do something to keep yourself occupied...

  2. I sat down and faced this conundrum head on only a few months ago. I do love writing, but I realized that I didn’t enjoy the field of writing I was in. Well, not enough to live that way for the rest of my career anyway. My answer: I went into a different field of writing. I’m enjoying it a lot more, and I’m finding the life is just overall better.

    Dave Ramsey teaches as one of his principles of living a financially successful life to do what you love. I thought it odd at first that he focused an entire lecture to getting the job you want, but when you think about it, job satisfaction is critical to long-term financial health and, I would argue, family health. If you are unhappy in your job, how can you be happy in life?

    This is so true! To me, financial health, family health, physical health, and emotional well being are all related to each other and to one's work. It's not like we can divide ourselves into categories and hope that one compartment doesn't rub off on another.

  3. I think a lot of people are too afraid to try to pursue what they *really* want to do in life. Instead of opting for happiness, they opt for security and the annoyance of a less-than-fulfilling job. I feel like it’s important to do something you love and believe in as your profession, otherwise you don’t feel fulfilled, and work doesn’t recharge your passion and joy every day, it just drains you and that’s it.

    That having been said, I think different people make different choices. To some, security is important enough to sacrifice passion and purpose… for others, it’s not enough. THey’re willing to take the risk so they can do something that means something to them.

    And then there are those who are stuck… the single mother I knew a while back, with four children to take care of and no education. Sure if she had time she could probably have come up with something creative, but her emotional reserves were so drained she did what she had to do: go on welfare and raise her kids and get a min-wage job she could keep.

    This poor mother! It does seem that sometimes people get stuck in an endless cycle of desperation, despair, and poverty. I once knew a single mother of three who was in a similar situation...dead end job and going nowhere fast. She wanted to go to the technical college where I worked, and everything from financial aid to placement scores worked out beautifully. The problems began when her sitter didn't show up at night so that she could go to her classes. Even when she could get away to go, she was so exhausted from her day job and from her household and mothering tasks that she couldn't study. She gave up after a while and is still stuck in that mode.

  4. This is an excellent post. I interact daily with people in high prestige careers who are trying to become financially independent so they can quite their J.O.B. (just about broke)and do what they want to do. Many have advanced degrees, some have two or three of them and yet with all their privilege, some are unhappy.

    I can’t understand someone going to med school and/or law school only to discover they don’t like the job when they are finished. I just don’t get what they were thinking.

    In some cases, I find that people making a great six or seven figure income live paycheck to paycheck and are never satisfied. I think money management is critical to job satisfaction regardless of how much money you are manageing. And, loving what you do makes all the difference.

    I can't understand it either, Janet. The only way I sort of comprehend this kind of dissatisfaction is that the person didn't really put much thinking into it in the first place. I know LOTS of women at the college who are either already in the nursing program or who are on a waiting list. Some of them have a sincere desire to help others and have a realistic picture of what the profession entails. Others are quite honest in telling you that they are after job security and money.

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