Workers have more control over their working conditions than they have for generations. The disruption and uncertainty caused by the pandemic has prompted many workers to reconsider what they want from their jobs and to ask for more. What do you want your relationship to paid work to be? For a long time, the answer has been to “follow your passion,” to find work that you love and that is meaningful. But this passion principle has risks. Finding a job aligned with your passion can take months or years, sacrificing economic stability. What’s more, investing so much of our sense of identity in our paid employment incurs a more existential risk to our sense of self-worth, should layoffs or other business changes occur. The key is to find the right balance of passion and profit in your career. You can do this by exploring ways to have a satisfying job that don’t necessarily involve being passionate about its content; shrinking the space that full-time work takes up in your life; diversify your meaning-making portfolio; and building coalitions with colleagues and other workers in asking for what you want.
We are at a unique moment in the history of the postindustrial labor force. Workers have more control over their working conditions — the pay, place, and pace of their jobs — than they have since the heyday of worker collective action and unionization over half a century ago. As a result of the financial and existential uncertainty wrought by the pandemic, many workers, especially professionals, are reconsidering what they want from their jobs and daring to ask for something more.
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