Sep 24, 2020
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Making Money Versus ‘Making Good’: Accomplishing Both In A Career

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Getty GETTY In career development and the area of work I m often struck by the emphasis on income as the measure of success. Yet paradoxically sharing openly about income is taboo. We usually infer salary from a undeniable style of job ( He s a high-paid lawyer ) or drop hints ( I make a comfortable living ) about income

 

The hope of many fogeys is that their children will land high-earning jobs as doctors engineers lawyers and increasingly IT professionals. We can t blame parents for wanting their children to be financially secure. But as exposed by the 2008 Great Recession and the resulting high unemployment rate even high-income jobs may well be lost when forces beyond our control are at play

 

Growing up my father worked hard to support his family. He was from a working-class background only completing the eighth grade then went directly to trade school to learn how to be a pressman (as in letterpress printing something you can only now find on your local museum or artisan shop where the work is viewed as a lost art)

 

My mother was not typical of her time. Though she managed the household and my sister and me she was also my dad s partner in his work handling the financial end of the business and taking up a range of part-time jobs. She sold holiday cards and wedding invitations typed assignments and drove a college bus

 

Today she would be a quintessential gig worker. My parents wanted us to have careers that could support us financially and always be in demand. My sister became a successful hairstylist. I went to law school and began a practice. I’m able to t say though that I made a killing practicing law — I guess I gave too many breaks to oldsters I felt were in need

 

In retrospect on working for over 30 years I ve come to achieve that making the first object of a career generating a considerable income was not the finest fit for me. And I suspect I may not be alone. Of course creating wealth is essential but making good as a career goal may well be important and bring significant meaning to one s life sometimes more so than income

 

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A few occupations which are designed for those seeking meaning and contributing to the social good come to mind: teachers police officers  firefighters or even the military. As a society we are gradually coming to recognize that careers aimed at serving higher purposes should be recognized through appropriate remuneration. But teachers are still underpaid and the level of service pay to enlisted men and women is often criticized as too low

 

Authors Emily Esfahani Smith in The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters and Daniel Pink in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us note the growing recognition that meaning and purpose are critical in careers today. Books like Compassionate Careers: Creating a Living by Creating a Difference by Jeffrey Pryor and Alexandra Mitchell and job search sites like Idealist

 

org provide alternative pathways in case you want to make a difference in the world. People who study millennials and now Gen Zers are finding that they wish to make an impact on society and create change if it is by improving social conditions saving our environment or seeking equality between genders races and folks of alternative sexual orientations

 

We should challenge ourselves (particularly as parents) to get teenagers to seek careers that not just support themselves financially but are meaningful and advance social and global change. I have a bias of course: I d like to grasp that we can have a future generation of teachers and police educating our youth and keeping us safe who can make a very good living and find meaning in their work

 

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

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