"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work"
It’s 2002. Brazil have just won the World Cup in Japan, Labour have recently won a second landslide victory, and ‘S Club 7’ were topping the UK charts. A young man (yours truly) has just graduated high school. He has no idea what he wants to do with life, he had taken a keen interest in politics at school but had zero interest in becoming a politician. Like most people who, at that age, have no idea what they wanted to do with life, he went to university, hoping he could work it out while he was there.
Politics was my degree of choice. Why? Because I enjoyed it. Why spend 4 years working at something you don’t enjoy? This question would come back to haunt me.
Ok so, university finished, got my sheepskin, still no direction in life, now what? Get a job! Fast forward to 2012, you have been graduated 5 years… and the question comes back to me. Why spend years working at something you don’t enjoy?
For many of us, the largest portion of our day is spent ‘at work’. It is estimated that the average UK worker will spend 90,000 hours ‘at work’ in their lifetime so why would we spend all day doing something which does not bring fulfilment? When we commit to a job, not only are we trading our skills, but we are also trading our time. The latter however is priceless, we do not get this back. We work to live but should we not take satisfaction in it too?
After 10 years in construction, I found myself completely disillusioned. I had chased the proverbial carrot on a stick for several of them but found myself in a losing battle to nepotism. I had a job but no career. It was time for a change. Through complete fluke I found Target. Looking back 5 years my initial response to joining Target was naïve. It was a new job sure, my colleagues all seemed very friendly, and the smaller office environment suited me more, it was a nice change of scenery, however underneath seemed like a very similar job to my previous vocation.
Then, a few months into my new role, I was asked to accompany one of our Healthcare Directors to a visit to one of our homes, and that was the day everything changed. To call it an eye opener would be a massive understatement. Our Healthcare Director was conducting a routine visit to confirm the home was continuing its high standard of care to its residents, both in terms of direct care, and the building and environment of the residents’ surroundings. With our help, this home was being held to a high standard.
Before we arrived, I was reminded that we have been invited not to a care home, but to someone’s actual home. This was evident within minutes of arriving. I knew the home on paper, but it took my first visit to realise I knew nothing yet. This was the conclusion of our team’s work; this was the conclusion of several teams coming together to ensure the life of the elderly people living in this home was as fulfilling and comfortable as possible. This is what my stats and figures represented – our job was to help improve the lives of the residents within their home. Target’s drive for excellence in both building conditions and regulatory ratings for our homes was making a genuine difference to the quality of lives those residents were receiving. We are all cogs in a machine, but to be able to see first-hand what that machine is producing as a result everyone’s hard work was extremely humbling.
These were not just stats on a spreadsheet, percentages in graphs – it was only now that I finally realised, I finally had a job that mattered – I had a career in care. It has now been 20 years since I my first day at university… but the question no longer haunts me. I never did find my ‘calling’, but I think it found me. At a glance, many of my day-to-day tasks may still seem similar; but having a purpose and being able to see the direct consequences of your actions is something I will always be very grateful for. It is no coincidence that as enthusiasm for the sector increased, my role and responsibilities followed suit. My only regret for the last 20 years is not seeking satisfaction from my work sooner. I would have changed the route taken, but I'm delighted at the final destination.