It feels so good to be indispensable. To reach a level of mastery with something that becomes a part of who you are. To be that person that others go to when they need help with your area of expertise. Your individual job security in part depends on your own ability to fill niches, to excel in your niche, and to always be willing to use these skills to help others.
It feels feels good, that is, until you’re on vacation. Just as you’re slapping on your sunscreen and are about to hit the sand… your phone blows up. Now is not a good time to be needed! Suddenly, the niche feels a little small. A little busy. A little overwhelming.
You’re at a party. You’re standing with your drink and small foods in your hands. You’re glancing around the room when suddenly you see someone you recognize vaguely from that other thing you both attended a few months ago. They come over to talk to you. You chat about the things you have in common. You leave the conversation and move on to something else, but that brief moment of connection cements that particular person, out of the hundred or so that were there that night, in your memory. A few weeks later, you see a news story that reminds you of the conversation you had with that person at that party. You send them a link through Facebook and ask them for their thoughts. The relationship continues from there.
If that conversation happened to be about work, then you’re networking.
“When I am … completely myself, entirely alone… or during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.”
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
There’s a clear Millennial obsession with productivity, life hacks, tracking, and metrics. My generation loves measuring things, making them more efficient, and doing more with each and every day that we have. This is an amazing quality, but it’s only a small part of the picture of success. With only these values shaping your daily life, you’ll have a lot of trouble truly relaxing and taking care of yourself, and unexpectedly, issues with allowing time for creativity to blossom. If I spent as much time tracking my meditation minutes as I did actually meditating, I might be a lot better off.
Being more productive with our time is supposed to give us more down time, more time for hobbies and side projects, and more time for family. But we often use the spare time instead for more doing, more learning, and more planning for future productivity.
When you were a kid, someone saying an unkind word to you could send you into a tailspin. Some of us used to burst into tears. Some of us would start swinging our fists. And some of us would stand utterly still, in total paralysis, working very hard to act as if it didn’t happen.
Now that you’re all grown up, you probably still have the same tendencies when it comes to your default reactions to criticism.
When you ask Millennials why they love the job that they do, they are likely to tell you that they are passionate about it. This is sometimes accompanied by a story of when they had a job that was miserable for them, and then they had a revelation that lead them to leave that terrible job and start their own underwater basket weaving co-op.
But overall, most people who are highly satisfied with their careers have more than just something that they are passionate about. They have autonomy, they feel competent, and they get along well with the people they work with.
And, most importantly, they have a job that supports the life that they want to live.