01/21/2022

What Work Do You Really Want To Do In 2022?

Michelle McQuaid, Wellbeing Lab

 

As millions of workers around the world join The Great Resignation, the desire to throw in the towel for the potential of work that has more meaning, more flexibility, and more money has never looked more tempting.

But before you hand in your resignation, it’s worth making sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons.

“We come to desire many things not through pure reason, but our tendency to mimic the desires and wants of other people,” explained Luke Burgis, author of “Wanting: The Power Of Mimetic Desire,” when I interviewed him recently. “And while it’s human nature for us to want what other people also want or have, studies find that it rarely leads us to fulfilment.”

If people we admire are quitting their jobs, then the mimetic pull to imitate their choices can make it hard to separate what we want from what we need.

This is because desire spreads person to person, like the energy between people at a concert or political rally.  This energy can lead to a cycle of positive desire that channels energy into creative and productive pursuits that serve the common good, or it can become a cycle of destructive desire causing instability and confusion as competing desires interact in volatile ways.

So, how can you be sure your desire to quit your job is part of a cycle of positive change?

Luke recommends:

  • Investing in thick desires – A thin desire is highly mimetic, contagious, and often shallow (i.e., to make as much money as someone else, etc.). In contrast, a thick desire helps you to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life.  The best way to uncover your thick desires is by exploring the stories about times in your life when you took an action that ended up being deeply fulfilling.  Within these stories lie the clues to the kind of work you most want to do.
  • Creating a hierarchy of values – Values act to order our desires. A hierarchy of values is especially critical when choices have to be made between good things.  If values are all equally important, or if there isn’t a clear understanding of how they relate to one another, mimesis becomes the primary driver of decision-making.  What do you want?  What have you helped others want?  Map your answers out on paper.  Then order the values you most want to live by and look for work opportunities that are aligned to who you want to be in the world.
  • Identifying worthy role models – You can’t want what you lack a role model for. It might be someone outside of our immediate world (i.e., celebrities, fictional characters, historical figures) or someone inside of it (colleagues, friends, neighbors).  Who are the people that possess a quality of life that you feel transcends your own and that can help shape your desires for the ways you want to work?

When it comes to doing the work you love in 2022, who and what is shaping your desires?

 

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