Guys, I’m going to be in career-related existential crisis ramble mode for a while. Just an FYI.
As I start looking to other jobs, I’ve been thinking about whether what I do aligns with what kind of person I want to be. Day to day, the work is intellectually stimulating, but is that enough?
Sometimes I crave impact for my work. As in, I wish my work helped real people. Scratch that, not “real” people but rather “normal” people. The kind of folks for whom help makes a big difference in their life versus, say, a giant corporation.
There are times even when I know my work isn’t used by clients. This is part and parcel with the business. I can spend hundreds of hours on work product and the client may decide not to use my findings at all. It’s normal.
But even when it is used, it’s hard to feel that it is “impactful.” As the result of my work, one or another big corporation may gain or lose some money, but the effect on real folks tends to be minimal. If I mess up, nobody will die. It’s all very sanitary and clean, this job.
Sometimes I think about the type of work Fiancé does (social work) and it all seems terribly unfair. His industry is r-o-u-g-h, with intense physical and emotional labor expected daily. Turnover, unsurprisingly, is very high. He worked evening and weekend shifts, got assaulted multiple times, did an average of 20 hours overtime each week, poured his heart out day after day, and never made more than $13/hour. Here I am sitting in my cushy office typing up reports maybe one or two people will ever read and making multiple times what he ever could in his line of work.
That’s not to say I want to be a social worker. I’d crack like an egg. But the impact versus pay here seems off.
Sometimes I assuage myself by saying that after FIRE I’ll do my most impactful labor. So really, what I should do is make a lot of money to expedite my progress to that point. But that also seems like lazy procrastination. The truth is I feel so unsure of what sort of impactful work I may be suited to and too afraid of the ramifications of failure (messing up people’s lives) to try.
Do you feel like your work matters? Is your pay appropriate to your level of impact?