Some years ago, my relationship with my working life was such that, combined with a couple of other things, I was getting an ulcer and regularly suffering from chest pains. These days, I can honestly say that I haven’t been happier working. Although I knew that I had to make some changes, I didn’t actually plan to get here but the path here, in retrospect, was clear.
I was in between jobs, wondering about where I should go and decided I would go back to basic principles. I worked through an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy exercise where you identify your values in different life domains. The values I picked out in the work domain pretty much meant that the private sector was not for me. Phrases like social responsibility, making a difference to the world, helping others, etc, fitted much better with the government or NGO levels.
I got a job in the Victorian government trying to improve the way IT services are delivered to various government departments. Arguably, my current job in the government isn’t making all that much significant difference to the world but it was enough for me to feel that I was helping (or at least attempting to) make things better for Victorians. More than that, my role within the organisation also revolves around supporting and helping others work better.
So, not only are my day to day activities aligned to my values, my organisation’s function (which ultimately is to support the Victorian government) is also aligned to my values. It seems pretty obvious now that I’ve written it down but it took three years to work out why I’m so happy taking a pay cut (and ceiling) and working within the numerous challenges of government organisations.