Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m in my late 20s, single, and I struggle with several chronic illnesses. I cannot participate in the hustle culture. I’ve had to quit my last two jobs due to burnout; then I nursed myself back to health. People keep telling me to “follow my passion” to avoid burnout, but I think that’s a load of crap. I need health care benefits and a good paying job to support myself. I want to stop having to quit jobs due to burnout, but I can’t afford to take low-paying jobs that are less stressful. Advice? — Beni
DALE: So what does an employer want when they hire an employee? It used to be time, as in 40 hours a week for 40 years, with layers of management standing over you to make sure you’re working during those hours. Now, though, in Yet Another New Economy, employees put in work, not time, and with little middle management, the employer is really buying your energy. They buy your effort like you buy electricity from your power company. And the high-paying jobs tend to go to high-energy employees. So there’s the rub. However, you’re in luck because in this economy, you can find a flexible schedule where you work your own hours and match those to your vigor.
J.T.: But there’s more here than that. First, the hustle culture is part of the problem in America today. That’s why you will never hear me as a career coach tell you to “pursue your passion.” For 20 years, I’ve helped people find greater career satisfaction. The solution is to find a problem that is bigger than yourself, one that you care about solving, and then use your unique gifts to do work that supports solving that problem. Easier said than done, I know. But for now, I think you have to ask yourself: Do I need a job, a career or a calling? A calling is something that you are willing to sacrifice other areas of your life for because the need to feel fulfilled is so great. I don’t think everybody wants a calling, in spite of the fact that our society seems to push that. A career is something that pays the bills but also gives you some sense of satisfaction — it doesn’t consume you, and it doesn’t burn you out. Then, there’s a simple job — it pays the bills, and it doesn’t stress you. This last one is what I suggest to people when they’re not feeling healthy. It sounds like you should focus on getting a job and restoring your health, then working with someone to find a career, not a calling. That way, you can find the health benefits and decent-paying job you want that provides satisfaction without burning you out.
Dear J.T. & Dale: My company just announced that it is “reinventing” itself, and all of us employees are going to be let go and have to reapply for our jobs. Can you give me any insight into what to expect? I hear it’s a job hunters’ market, so maybe I should just look for a new job? — Alonzo
DALE: I hope I’m wrong, but I’d say you should expect a cartload of buzzwords, acronyms and new job titles, all disguising layoffs and pay cuts. See if you can’t chat up the folks in marketing and in finance to find out what they foresee for the company. If they aren’t solidly optimistic, put major effort behind a job search.
J.T.: My advice is to do both — start a search but reapply to the job that you have so that you can stay working. It’s not as much of a job seekers’ market as people think. Yes, there are a lot of jobs out there, and 40 million people quit jobs last year, but those were mostly jobs that they didn’t like. Many of those jobs are still available because nobody wants them. The really good jobs are highly competitive. That’s why I would try to secure this position while I see if there’s something better.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2022 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.