A job as a sense of purpose and identity

Studies have shown that work satisfaction accounts for a substantial chunk of general life satisfaction, and has a significant influence on our health. According to Professor Wrzesniewski of Yale School of Management, most people approach work in one of three ways - as a job, a career or a calling.

People who view their work as a job focus on the necessity and financial rewards that comes with it. The work is not an end in itself. It is a means of allowing them to acquire the resources needed to enjoy their time away from the job. This is where their primary interests and ambitions really are, Wrzesniewski said in a paper with other researchers.

The people who see work as a career focus on its advancement aspects. They mark their achievements by their salaries and how high they have moved up the ladder, associating monetary gains and status with increased power, social standing, and self-esteem.

Lastly, those who regard work as their calling find their work inseparable from their lives. They work because it fulfills them and not for financial gain or to advance their career. They give more to it just because they feel good about what they do. Wrzesniewski pointed out that people within the same occupation can see their work in different ways (Wrzesniewski, 2014).

I personally view work as an embracement of all three ways. I cherish the work I do because it is a job, career, and sort of a calling.

As an independent consultant for the pharmaceutical industry, I provide consulting/technical services to help pharmaceutical companies get their manufacturing facilities to a fully functional state and to maintain peak performance throughout its operational life. The services I provide range from commissioning to manufacturing process start-up and operational improvement. These services are provided with the highest degree of integrity, both at the corporate and personal levels. My innovative approaches at least I hope they are help client teams achieve high quality, faster project delivery, reduced costs, and a reasonable approach to regulatory compliance.

What is truly striking about consultants in my field of work is how everyone seems to enjoy their work. We are in the business of assisting companies in making materials that save peoples’ lives. That brings work into a new dimension. How can one not like to come to work when that is what we are all about?

A recent opinion-editorial piece in the Wall Street Journal discussed the many commencement speakers who will urge the new graduates to "find their passion - do what you love." The writer instead advocated finding a vocation with a deeper/a higher sense of purpose, a sense of community, of pulling together. "Does the doctor love going into the hospital in the middle of the night to see a patient? Does the firefighter love to enter burning buildings? Does the teacher love to try to control a classroom full of disrespectful children? Does the soldier love being immersed in the ambiguities of guerilla warfare? Does the sailor love to be away from family and friends? Not likely. But the work is done with a sense of purpose that "love" does not capture. I love to swim. I love to cook. But I have a niece who is a better swimmer and a spouse who is a better cook. So maybe I should avoid those vocations. Instead, my purpose is to be an agent of change in my industry and to help my customers perform more efficiently in a variety of ways. Even better, those customers in my industry make life-saving and life-enhancing products that are distributed to patients worldwide. I help them expand their manufacturing, or make their manufacturing more productive and quality compliant. My work is not easy, projects do not always go smoothly, and clients are not always cooperative or even respectful of us. But at the end of the day, patients benefit because of who I am and what I do what I do. And I do this with a focus on my professional development, enhancing my ability to be that agent of change and improviser, all the while securing my future prosperity for my family and retirement. Work provides me with a salary that allows me to do other things in my life, like feed my family and myself, as well as acquire things that make my family and I all happy. Work makes me feel important and gives me an identity. It gives meaning and structure to my day. Work is my social life. It gives me a sense of belonging. Work is fun and exciting. It is meaningful (manufacturing medicine can save lives and change lives for the better) Most importantly, my work makes all the other things I do when I am not working more valuable. If I did not have a job, I doubt I would enjoy my holidays as much as I do now. The late Steve Jobs once said "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle."


•    Wrzesniewski, A. (2014, Nov 10). Job Crafting: How Individuals Revision Work [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_igfnctYjA

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