Dear Shelly,

My job isn't fulfilling, but it allows me to surf and fuck around online all day. Should I look for a new job?

Signed,
Internet Enabled

Dear Enabled,

You know, I've heard a lot lately about finding a job that is "fulfilling" or "challenging" or one that "uses your potential" and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I think that a lot of us aren't seeking the perfect job so much as we're seeking an avocation. I think that it's a rare individual that can make his or her avocation into a job, but that if you can do it, you should.

Assuming you don't have an avocation right at your fingertips, I have to wonder what kind of job would fulfill you. Is it really going to be work that makes you feel like you matter? It could be your relationships. It could be something you paint. It could be the artistry with which you dress yourself. It could be your religion--maybe your fulfillment rests on a higher plane. You don't have to seek meaning within a job. It'd be great if we could use that 40 hours a week to make ourselves better people, but that is very likely not the case for most of us, because we simply don't care that much or we need to make money or we want our work to be something we can just put down at the end of the day. Most of us just try to have a job that supports us and doesn't make us miserable.

However, here's something to try: For one week, go to work like you care. Try being passionate about your job. Find extra projects. Complete them. Make your work space a better place. Treat it like it matters. When that week is over, ask yourself how you feel about your job. Sometimes, the fulfillment in work is found in doing it the best we can, in making it something to be proud of, and that fulfillment can have nothing to do with the content of the work itself. You may not be the sort to feel that way at all, but it is worth a try. Sometimes, the meaning in life comes from how we approach whatever is set before us.

If that doesn't do anything for you, and assuming your job isn't horrid (hey, computer time), try to use some of that 40 hours each week to work towards finding some kind of avocation or meaning, rather than spending it on things that eat time and leave you feeling empty. You have the all the information on the internet at your fingertips, and scads of time. You deserve to feel fulfilled, but you needn't feel like your job has to do it for you.

Love,
Shelly