Does your work have meaning?

bee flower

 

I recently devoured the book Honeycomb Kids: Big Picture Parenting for a Changing World… and to Change the World. It’s a long title for an awesome book by Aussie author Anna M Campbell. As well as talking about the challenges our kids will face in the future, it is packed with practical ideas for how to develop resilient, adaptable humans with the skills and mindsets to face every challenge head-on. Anna has been kind enough to share an edited extract from one of my favourite chapters. I hope you find it as inspiring as I did.

 

Meaningful work By Anna M Campbell

For years I loved my city job but a key turning point happened 20 floors up in its funky boardroom. There were 10 of us around the table, bright, passionate, focused…focused on marketing a multi-national’s new chocolate bar to 8- to 12-year olds. We were coming up with so many creative ideas the kudos was flying. Then my unborn second child kicked. And it all clicked.

The cold hard truth about the fabulous career that I got a buzz from; that I spent two hours a day commuting for; that paid my mortgage, my toddler’s day care bills and for holidays became startlingly clear in that moment. Like many people, I am passionate about fresh food, fresh air, fair play, family and furry things, and yet I was using my education, creative talents and days on earth to manipulate impressionable young humans to pester their parents to spend hard-earned money. And not on something vital or even useful, but on a food that resembled nothing found in nature and that was damaging to teeth and body – and the environment thanks to its manufacture, plastic wrap and shipping around the globe.

Damn. Clearly an irreconcilable clash between my values and my vocation! So I quit and after the initial fear and trepidation, began a journey of real discovery, discoveries that have led to this book [link].

Many of us have preconceived notions of what a ‘good’ job is. We’ve gobbled up the garbage that a high-paying job automatically makes us happy. Family history and white-collar/blue-collar snobbery blinds us to career choices that may well suit our children more than the ones we desire for them. And we stubbornly (or ignorantly) act as though the world we live in today will be the same as the world of tomorrow.

Kids are great radars for the types of jobs that will still be promising in the future, because if a five-year-old can understand what you do for a job, then it’s probably worth doing, e.g., “I grow food for people to eat”, “I help fix broken bones”, “I build houses.” Alternatively, if it’s too complicated to explain easily, maybe it won’t be such a great career option, e.g., “I trade derivatives”, “I invent chemicals to create a ‘natural’ flavour that’s really synthetic”, “I help people get money that their Aunty specifically asked them not to have when she died”, etc.

Although in the past being a banker, property developer or lawyer might have been some people’s way to financial riches, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s still the case, or that it will always be so.

How much do your children know about what you do for a living? I think it’s hilarious and charming that although I hold down a couple of different jobs from beekeeping to balm-making to public speaking, because I work from home on the farm, my son tells everyone that “she’s just my mum but she’s very eco”.

Do your children respect the work that you do? Do you? Is it a job within an industry that will benefit their generation, or is it one that will leave them with a mess to clean up? Is it a job that’s good for their health, their body image, the air they breathe, the community they live in? If not, would you think about moving to a company that makes you proud, or to a role within your current company where you can champion fresh ethics, and influence environmental and product changes for the better? Do you have a job that you think matters? If not, maybe think about finding or creating a new one so you can devote your time, passion and smarts to it!

Start sharing with your kids now that what they want to ‘be’ when they grow up doesn’t have to be answered with a career choice, but with the way they really want to be: fun-loving, caring, spontaneous, courageous, loved, useful, etc.

Having worked for much of our own lives, we’ve probably come head to head with the fact that although some jobs provide a comfortable lifestyle, they might not provide for a worthwhile personal or family life. Hopefully we’ll be able to support our children so they can find an independent living that fits their calling.

Thought Launchers & Conversation Starters

  •  If your daughter loves ballet, involve her in making the costumes to teach her the skill of sewing. If your son loves football, help him improve his fitness by having him help with work in the yard. If your children like to fiddle, open up the hood of the car and let them fiddle with an engine. If you need a kid-sized table, get them to help you make it.
  • Encourage grandparents to pass on skills to your children, skills such as quilting, baking, sewing, spinning, weaving and the use of hand tools.
  • Work out ways to involve your children more in your work day so they can witness first-hand and learn from the commitments you make and keep each day, and learn from your struggles and achievements.
  • Ask your children how they’d like to earn a living when they grow up. Get them to list 20 different things they might like to try.
  • Come up with a list of ways your family could earn money together separate from your main work.
  • Think about your current job and company. Is it where you want to be, or something you enjoy telling your children about? If not, can you make it so, or can you build a new career for yourself in a different company, or one of your own making, that you can be proud of, and proud to share with your children?
  • Are there areas where you can cut costs in your daily lifestyle so you don’t need to work so hard, or so that you can devote time to your own business and family?
  • Is there someone you would enjoy mentoring or being mentored by?

This post is an edited extract from Honeycomb Kids, by Anna M Campbell. You can find out more about the book here. Honeycomb Valley is farm and education facility in NSW. The farm’s motto is “small farm, big picture”. To find out more about Honeycomb Valley’s products, farmstay and philosophy, click here.

 

photo credit: Urban Woodswalker via photopin cc

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