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In defense of “it’s just a job”

You can still find meaning in your work

By | Michelle S |

Our jobs—what we do—hover heavily over our very existence. Before the pandemic, a lot of job advice was about pursuing your passion, as though our purpose in life must be defined by our job or hustling till we drop from exhaustion. Now, all I hear about is burnout and The Great Resignation. Either way, the conversation about our lives is always a conversation about our work.

Why do our jobs have to dominate so much of our life? What if there’s another way to look at work?

Maybe your job is just a job.

I like my job, but the job that I do doesn’t define who I am. As much fun as fussing over words can be, technical writing is not my passion. Given my past jumps across jobs and industries, it may not even be my career. And that’s ok.

It’s ok to think of your job as “just a job.” It’s still important to do it well, but there’s no harm in thinking of it the way the dictionary does: 

  • “a regular remunerative position”;  

  • “something that has to be done,” like grocery shopping or filling up your car’s gas tank;

  • or “something done for private advantage.”

That last one—private advantage—can range from the mundane (grocery money) to the fantastic (save up to retire early). The point is, a job is just a job: an exchange of your labor for your employer’s cold, hard cash. But it’s also something that you can use to your advantage to help you further your personal goals.

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