How important is it to love your job?


#1

I want to apologize in advance for a long post, I’ll try to make this as short as possible.

I graduated in 2012 with a degree in philosophy and no idea what I wanted to do for a living. I considered swim coaching (I was a collegiate athlete), going back for an advanced degree and teaching (my academic passion is Catholic theology/philosophy/apologetics, and it still is a long-term goal of mine to get a degree and teach at the high school or college level in the subject of our faith), and a few other things, but prayer and discernment pretty much ruled those out.

Then I met my wife. She was a senior in nursing school, and an Air Force recruiter came into her class one day to talk about the benefits of pursuing nursing as a career in the military. I was struck by the idea to look into the military myself (my Grandfather was a military aviator, and my Dad was an AF officer as well), so I got in touch with a recruiter, and she suggested that I apply to become a pilot, as I had a very competitive package that I could put together for consideration. Fast forward 3 years, and I am an officer in pilot training, married, with a 6 and a half month old daughter.

My family life is wonderful. I couldn’t have asked God for a more beautiful, holy wife, and our daughter is the joy of our life! I also believe sincerely that God led us here for a reason, and until recently I had no doubts that it was because He was calling me to be a pilot. It’s a demanding life, to be sure, but I have met so many wonderful and happy families in the piloting community, men and women who make it work in the military, courageously enduring the time away from each other, the deployments, the long hours, etc. especially as those long hours start to balance out after pilot training. Furthermore, piloting provides a very stable and comfortable means of supporting my family long-term.

However, I’m not really enjoying it at all. I don’t know if that’s because the training environment is highly stressful - every flight is graded, the sheer volume of required knowledge is the equivalent of an entire year of college classes in a single semester’s time, and the instructors hold us to a strict standard and aren’t terribly patient when we fail - if it’s because I feel that the 50-60 hour weeks are taking me away from my wife and daughter too much, if it’s because I feel as though my spiritual life is slipping somewhat as pilot training has made it far more difficult to maintain my prayer habits, or if it’s simply because I’m bad at it. I have faced on a number of occasions the prospect of elimination from the program, managing to scrape by with no room to spare, my check pilots telling me they were on the fence about whether or not I should be allowed to continue. They tell me I work hard, have a great attitude, but for whatever reason, I’m struggling far more than my classmates. On top of that, I’ve spent many days of the past few weeks sick and unable to fly, which has resulted in my getting progressively further behind. All in all, I just haven’t found the experience to be fun or fulfilling in the way I would hope a career would be.

I apologize if it sounds like I’m complaining. I believe God brought me here for a reason, I’m just having a hard time discerning what that is. And other than my wife, I don’t really feel as though I can talk to anyone about this. My parents are very supportive, but they also tend to see these doubts or questions as obstacles that need to be pushed past at any cost. My friends here would hear all of this and worry that I just didn’t “want it” badly enough, or that I thought too much was out of my hands. And our pastor here, unfortunately (though not unexpectedly for a small base in the middle of nowhere) isn’t the sort of wise and holy priest I would trust to help with any sort of spiritual direction.

So I know these things: I am called to holiness, as we all are. My primary means of realizing that call are as husband and father, leading my family to sanctity. My career/job must serve these ends, by helping me grow in holiness and by providing me a means to provide for my family. I enjoy being in the military, and I believe in what I have been called to do by serving my country in this capacity. But I am filled with doubts as to whether or not I am in the right place or how best to soldier on in spite of my doubts. I want to do what God is calling me to do, but I feel as though I’m hoping against hope that that will include a job that I find enjoyable and fulfilling, rather than one that, so far, has had me waking up in the morning dreading what the day will bring on the flight line.

Above all, please pray for me. If in addition, you have any advice, I would greatly appreciate it!

God bless


#2

Prayers offered.:slight_smile:


#3

Prayers offered. Also, try Spiritual Direction, especially from an Opus Dei priest.


#4

Perhaps it wouldn’t be impertinent of me to point out that 50-60 hour weeks are almost normative in the non-military world, and particularly among some of the higher-paying jobs or professions. It is certainly normative, at minimum, if one is self-employed. I imagine I put in some forty-hour weeks sometime or other in my life, but I sure can’t imagine when that would have been.

If you like what you’re doing, you really need to consider this decision very carefully.

As to the compressed learning requirement, that’s not unique to the military. Think about a lawyer, for instance, who has to learn not only how the law applies to each individual case, but the technical details of what he’s dealing with as well. How does he know, for example, how to say some surgery went wrong? He has to learn the surgery better than the surgeon does. And he has to study the personalities as well. And did you ever see the publications doctors feel the need to read on a constant basis? It’s a lot. For a surgery, a highly skilled surgeon has to learn the 20 things that could go wrong as well as the one thing he hopes will go right. I have a friend who owns an ordinary feed mill. He has to keep abreast of the futures market for all kinds of grains, nutritive values, governmental regulations of all sorts, actions of various meds, accounts, and all of that on top of his marketing and his costs.

Frankly, (and I really am not trying to be a smart aleck) I think your obligation to keep educating yourself is a blessing. It, and your performance, tell you that you’re getting good at what you do.

Perhaps I’m weird, but I have many times heard people say they were “burned out” or something on what they had done for years and wanted to do something else. My question to them (sometimes expressed, sometimes not) is: “Why would you want to leave something you’re good at in order to take up something you’re not?”

Hope you don’t take this badly. It’s not meant that way.


#5

The first thing you have to discern is whether you are not enjoying the training, not enjoying the military, or not enjoying flying. If it is just the training you are not enjoying, but you are enjoying the military and you enjoy flying then push through it. If you are not enjoying the military, I would suggest further discernment as you may be able to work for an airline. If you are not enjoying flying, you may be in the wrong field.

How important is it to enjoy your job? If you truly enjoy your job that is wonderful but that is not something that everyone has. If you can “take it or leave it” and if you think you can push through it, then stay at a job. If you really hate what you are doing, then find another job. Life is too short to live a large part of it miserable.

Let me explain what I mean by “hate your job”. One job I had, when I would wake up in the morning feeling fine, I was disappointed because that meant I had to go to work. In other words, I would rather be puking my guts out rather than go to work. Same job: If I got to work safely, I was disappointed. In other words, I would rather get in a wreck than go to work. If that is how you feel about any job it is time to move on.

Another important thing to discern is whether or not you dislike your job or your career. There is a big difference in the two. You can go to another job (employer) and still be in the same career and be happy there. If you hate your career (what you do for a living) it is a much bigger switch.

God Bless.


#6

How important is it to love your job? Many or even most people do not love their jobs. Many jobs are tedious and difficult. Most people get some degree of satisfaction out of their work. For Christians, our faith and families are usually more important than our work.

Being a military pilot is certainly a high stress job. Any military job is probably high stress. There are many career paths in the military and in civilian aviation.


#7

“its not” - kyle 2012


#8

I work in the civil division of a major defense contractor.
Depending on the contract (which changes ever couple of years, sometimes less).
50 to 60 hour weeks are the norm, more if the project is in trouble
training on a condensed schedule is also the norm, we often have to pick up the necessary skills as we go along, stress is a part of the job, you learn to cope

Some projects are pretty good, some are awful. That’s why they pay us what they do.
Very few that I know of define themselves or their happiness by their job, they do it for the money. Otherwise we’d all be gourmet cooks and gardeners.

Look for the good in your job, ignore the bad. It does not matter at all whether you “like” your job or not. Do it well, so you have time and money to do things that you actually do enjoy.


#9

I pray for Son of Jonah, that he will
be able to praise you IN all of this and
be able to discern Your will, the will of
a merciful, righteous and just God.
God calls us to do THREE things when
following Him, 1. Deny yourself 2. Take
up your cross AND 3. follow Him(Matt.
16:24) You have to learn to PRAISE Him
no matter WHAT is on your plate!! Re-
member satan will try to let you see all
the PROBLEMS w/ this situ., but if you
keep your eyes on the LORD,See Matt.
14:28-31 He will help you live ABOVE
your circumstances, May God bless you!!

Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest, blessed is He
who comes in the Name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!!
Amen.


#10

Try thinking of it in relation to your vocations: 1) the call to personal holiness and goodness 2) the call to marriage and parenthood 3) the call to work and the community. Does the job help you in any of those? If not, I’d look for a new one. If it does, then don’t. It doesn’t really matter what you do for the most part so long as you are doing what is good, avoiding what is evil, and taking care of the souls entrusted to you (including yours), then do what you want. So long as you continue to strive for holiness God will open or shut doors as He pleases. We are really just along for the ride. :slight_smile:


#11

OP, how long is your service commitment? Your wife’s? An what will happen if you fail flight training? I would think those are all relevant to how you might proceed.

Speaking as someone with a BA in philosophy, I can tell you that jobs in philosophy are nonexistent without a PhD, and even then are very competitive.


#12

To those who prayed, thank you so much. And for those who offered advice, I really appreciate that you took the time to give me good points to consider.

About a month and a half later, lots of prayers, talking to my parents and in-laws, and especially many late nights talking to my wife, I am still struggling with this overall. The fact of the matter is that I am simply not passionate about flying in any way, shape or form. I wake up every morning dreading going to the flight line. I look forward to getting sick so that I can’t fly, and now I’m doing poorly enough that I am getting washed back to a new class, leaving the classmates that I’ve spent the past 6 months working with

However, I don’t necessarily hate flying. When I’m doing well, it’s ok. Maybe even fun. But how I feel about it is less important, I think, than the following: my wife and I went to a career day recently where we learned about the various aircraft I could fly, the missions associated with them, the performance specifications of the airframes themselves, and the deployment scheduled and lifestyles of each. Without revealing anything I shouldn’t, suffice it to say that my wife and I were unsettled to learn that, best case, I could expect to be gone 4-6 months out of every year for 4-6 years of my 10 year commitment.

My parents think that I need to stay the course. They think that I’ll like it more when I’m through with training. My dad, who was in the Air Force himself for 13 years, is convinced that those deployment statistics are much more flexible and that there are ways to game the system to maximize my time at home. They both are concerned, too, that washing out or deliberately eliminating myself from the program will hurt my Air Force career long-term, and will very much hurt my ability to provide a stable, secure financial future for my family (pilots can make a VERY comfortable living, especially outside the military). On top of that, I don’t really know exactly what I would do in the Air Force if not piloting (my eventually dream job is to teach theology at the high school or college level, or to become a career apologist). However, I disagree with my parents that these temporal concerns, while very important, are even remotely comparable to my spiritual responsibilities as head of my family. And I just am not sure if our spiritual goals are compatible with the kind of lifestyle or career that will leave me absent of my family for 4-6 months of every year for the bulk of my time.

My father-in-law disagrees with my parents and believes from personal experience that it’s important to love at least something about your job, to have something that makes it worth it to get up every morning and excites you about going to work. Otherwise your job becomes a hardship and induces misery. He thinks that, especially at my age, I ought to take a leap of faith and try to find something that I like to do while working towards something I love to do.

I just don’t know what to do. I’m unhappy doing what I’m doing, I don’t really love it, and it has the prospect of keeping me away from my family for long periods of time while providing me with nothing that seems to make it worthwhile, except that I make enough that my wife doesn’t have to work.

Please, keep me in your prayers.


#13

I will pray for you Son of Jonah.

To offer some encouragement, I am between jobs right now. ANY job sounds good, so do remember to thank God for what you have, at least right now.


#14

This is what happened to me. I am a college professor and I really liked it. After a change in administration, etc,. my job “came to an end” at the particular school I was at. I returned home across the country and took a job with my father in his line of business which is totally unrelated to my academic field. I thought it would be great and be back home and make a lot of money, etc.

Well, let me tell you, there is some truth the old adage “you can’t go home again.” I ended up not liking it at all. I reduced my hours, took a pay cut, anything to not be there. I told my parents that I was not happy at all and I began to look for academic jobs again.

Long story short, I got a very good teaching job across the county again and I took it. The result? I am so much happier and I love where I’m at now.

You asked the question, should you love your job? I say yes! You spend a lot of time doing it and when it is necessary to leave your family to go to work, you had better like it at least somewhat and consider it worthwhile. If not, you life will be miserable no matter how much money you make. I took more than a 50% pay cut to move to my teaching job but I am so much happier. Do we struggle? Of course, but we make it work and I have no regrets.

Just something to think about…


#15

Here’s reality: you have a service commitment to the USAF. For the foreseeable future the likelihood of getting a job teaching theology is zero. Wanting such a career while having a service commitment is akin to dreaming of a job as an astronaut: it’s just not realistically going to happen, and it’s kind of a waste of time to act like it might. Deliberately sandbagging your other career moves is very counterproductive, particularly when it sounds like you’ve never even explored what, other than being a pilot, you could do in the USAF. You should at least do that ASAP.


#16

Personally speaking, the jobs I loved were the ones that I was naturally good at and the jobs I hated where the jobs I was poor at.

Took vocational counseling and was told what I already knew. I was poor at jobs that required selling something or dealt a lot with people. I excelled at technical jobs where I could work with others but not have to deal with the general public. Not surprising given my Aspergers.


#17

As a former military man myself, I have to agree with your parents.

Training is the toughest part of being a military man. You are constantly under stress, especially as a pilot, and you never really feel settled. In my experiences, training bases offer few niceties, are located in lousy places and are generally very depressing places to be stationed, so that doesn’t help. But training doesn’t last forever, and upon graduation, you will get a permanent assignment for a few years, likely on a big base near a bigger city with better facilities and better access to things such as Church, and maybe in an exotic location, which the AF has quite a few of. As far as deployments go, I think your father is correct, there are ways to play the system, but in any case, it is a huge part of military life these days, no matter your specialty.

I could be very wrong, but as far as your spiritual goals, I believe there is a phase of life when God understands we cannot give as much to Him as we would like. He understands that we have to get our lives going, by meeting a girl, getting married, starting your career, having children, buying a home etc. That phase is very demanding, but that to, doesn’t last forever. Life will slow down again and become more routine, and God will be ready to receive all that we can give when it does. In the meantime, you have a good wife that can take care of the home front for you. So go easy on yourself, God gets it! He understands.

But, please, this is only my very imperfect advice. It is really up to you to do what you feel is right. God Bless!


#18

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