What is the best job in the world?
Each breath is precious. An individual breath, however, can sustain you only for a few seconds. To be alive, you have to keep breathing. The same is true about knowledge. You may have learned all your life, but you will need to keep learning to continue to use what you already know. Thus, if you wish to be successful, creative, and happy, you’ll have to embrace the ultimate job, from which you can never retire—that of being a student.
A person who is learning and is enrolled in an educational institution is defined as a student. A good student is open to critique and isn’t fearful of being proven wrong. That openness keeps the student young and fresh each day. It also keeps him or her humble.
I believe the best job in the world is that of being a student. Even if you have graduated top of the class, continue to embrace the job of being a student, which will stay with you the rest of your life. No matter what you do, always choose to remain a student.
Once you feel you have graduated and are now in a “real” job (and thus no longer a formal student), you risk losing curiosity and, with that, joy. Research shows the majority of current workers (up to three-quarters) do not enjoy their work. Two out of three workers report work as their top stressor. With an average worker spending forty-seven hours each week at work (America is the most worked country in the industrialized world), no wonder we are also the most anxious nation.
Workplace stress, because of demand-resource imbalance and loss of curiosity, joy, control, and meaning, is forcing a high proportion of people to contemplate premature retirement. For example, a full 80 percent of senior physicians employed in the British NHS are thinking of early retirement. That’s a loss of precious experience and wisdom collected over generations.
While several efforts to help professionals are being implemented at the institutional and national level, you can do a lot on your own. At an individual level, we can work to overcome our stress by trying to match demand with resources, control the controllable, find greater meaning in work, and reinvigorate the sense of curiosity and joy we had when we started working (i.e., become a student again).
If you have already graduated, even from a master’s or PhD course, reenroll as a freshman in the college of life. Like it or not, you will always remain a freshman on this giant college campus called earth, with life as your professor. That’s not a bad thing. It’ll keep you humble and open to new experiences. That is one of the best ways to continue to grow, succeed, avoid letting success get to your head, or keep a high workload from pushing you into burnout.
May you wake up each day a little less ignorant than the previous day.
@AmitSoodMD (on Twitter)