Applying for Jobs = Exploration of the Soul?

Our species would be better off if more of us, especially the first-world folk stuffed with power and wealth and discretionary money and time, were more uncompromising about finding and pursuing our passions. Real ones, deep ones. Things we’re willing to die for (i.e. playing Starcraft really really well doesn’t count, for anyone).

If I don’t care deeply about something I won’t do it as well as I can even if I want to, and if I do care deeply, I can’t help but do it as well as I can, because it’ll feel like I don’t have a choice.

In fact that’s exactly how you know when you’ve found your passion: you don’t feel like you have a choice anymore.

But the rub: many of us don’t know what our passion is. A byproduct of that is that we get convinced that we don’t and even can’t have one, so we may as well trudge through life. 16 tons and what do you get?

And worse, we often don’t have the time to figure out what our passions are before committing to spend massive time doing some job or other, whether we like it or not, because we gotta put food on the table.

That’s an inconvenient constraint, so I was thinking: how to use a job search to aid in figuring out what we really want?

And then, the other day, I was writing a cover letter for a job. It’s a job I want, but I didn’t know how much until I wrote the letter.

The thing poured out of me. I wasn’t writing a cover letter, I was justifying of my existence, committing my soul to paper. It was unusual since normally writing cover letters feels to me like slowly suffocating inside a rolled up carpet.

Note this isn’t necessarily a wise way to write a cover letter, especially if you’re not gifted with words.

I had to rewrite mine because it read like the end of a Dickens novel (“It is a far better thing that I do than I have ever done before…” barf).

But it showed me something. It made own desires vivid and clear. So maybe here’s an exercise:

Find 10 job ads. Draft a cover letter for each over the course of a week or so. The ones that come most easily to you might tell you something important about who you are.

Posted March 03, 2012 in Random Thoughts | 2 Comments on Applying for Jobs = Exploration of the Soul?


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  1. Matt says:

    I think that the whole notion that we (read: average, 99% citizens) can have / find / pursue a passion is a fairly new notion historically speaking, and one that’s only made available by the exceptionally high standard of first world living to which we are accustomed. You have to be pretty far up there on Mazlow’s hierarchy to decide that you’re going to chase what you love instead of what pays the mortgage best, right?

  2. Nick Bentley says:

    It does seem recent, though there have always been people willing to forego comfort and safety to pursue great causes (whatever that may mean to each of us).

    It’s just that now you don’t have to risk quite as much as you might have if you’d lived in an earlier time (assuming that you’re a first-world person). For that reason, it seems like we have a historical opportunity which maybe shouldn’t be wasted.

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