I wake up five days a week and go to work. I have a regular job and everything that entails – deadlines to meet, meetings to attend, bosses to please. It requires some specialized knowledge and training and a certain level of education. There is a defined path for the future – if I do well, there are promotions, raises and more responsibilities. It’s your standard 8 to 5, and a properly motivated individual has the opportunity to do pretty well for themselves. In that regard, you could call it a career. In fact, most people do.
I, for one, do not. I do have a career, but my 8 to 5 is not it.
For better or worse, I tend to think of a career as something more. I’ve always felt a career should challenge and expand your creative capacities. It should generate genuine excitement on a daily basis. Most important, the work itself should be sufficient reward – no monetary incentive should be necessary to get up and do it on a daily basis. Maybe I’m setting the bar pretty high, but I figure if I’m going to devote my life to something, it had better be worthwhile.
So if my regular 8 to 5 is not my career, then what is? Using the qualifications I outlined, there’s only one thing I do that even qualifies as a career. Even though I didn’t plan it this way, I believe that my ideal career is parenting.
Let’s check the criteria:
Challenging my creativity? You try entertaining two high-energy children on a limited budget.
Genuine excitement? There’s not a single day that I can’t wait to walk into my home and continue the process of teaching and learning.
Reward? I am responsible for teaching two young people that I created everything they will need to know in life.
I teach my sons important things like how to love, how to be tolerant and how to be respectful. Eventually, I will also teach them really important things like how to properly field a ground ball, how good the Beatles really were and how to prepare a great pancake breakfast. I believe that by teaching them, I am learning all over again how important all of these things are.
Throughout my professional life, I have been asked on several occasions ‘Where do you see yourself five years from now?’ On every occasion that question has come up my answer is the same: I don’t know. It’s not that I don’t think about it or that it’s unimportant. It’s just hard to plan that far ahead for something that’s not my career choice.
In my personal life, though, I will still be a parent five years from now. I will face new challenges that will generate new forms of joy and provide new rewards. In that regard, I believe I will continue to have the most fulfilling career one could hope for.
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