Kabelo Chabalala
ON SELF-FULFILMENT and happiness, Andrew Thomas Weil, an American celebrity doctor, said: “I think instead of happiness, we should be working for contentment and an inner-sense of fulfilment that’s relatively independent of external circumstances.”

His words resonate with me, because every day I try my best to not allow external issues to disturb my inner peace. Nevertheless, something as external, yet so internal, as a job can mess with one’s sense of fulfilment and happiness completely.

A few weeks ago, I asked this question on social media platforms: “Are you happy with your job and, if not, why are you still there?”

I had more than 80 young people indulge me on the topic of doing a 9am to 5pm job vs fulfilment.

To my surprise, none of them were happy with their jobs. However, they are all holding them down because they have bills to pay and families to feed.

They also spoke about how their lack of fulfilment and growth is affecting their inner peace. They alluded to this as unhappiness and dissatisfaction that is brewing from the inside.

Because at some point, as this generation, we have to look beyond our bills and those who depend on us.

It saddened me to realise that as young professionals, we are doing what we have to do at the cost of our happiness and fulfilment. One person could argue and say it is called “adulting” (a millennial-coined verb that means growing up).

One of the things we millennials do is job hop. The truth is, we job hop because we don’t have much choice.

The working environment is not structured in such a way that it helps us as young professionals in South Africa to grow in our careers and improve our financial situation.

We are constantly accused of not being loyal to our jobs and “warned” about how chopping and changing jobs every six months or year doesn’t look good on our CVs.

But nobody ever touches on the elephant in the room: our lack of fulfilment and growth opportunities in these very work spaces we hop away from.

Job hopping is a tool we use to find temporary fulfilment at new workplaces, while we also may get an increase in our salaries.

It is necessary for us to become financially sustainable in the economy of South Africa that is not growing, but keeps on asking for more from our almost empty pockets.

We are job hopping to try to acquire enough growth to unleash our full potential.

My correspondents and I agree that even at the height of unpleasantness and that dread of waking up every morning to go to work, at times there are more important things in our lives than our happiness and fulfilment.

There are those who, even if they want to hop jobs, cannot do so because jobs in specific fields are scarce. But staying in the same place, in the same role, doing the same thing at the same low-base salary will not improve the quality of our lives nor fulfil us.

I think I ran that poll to make myself feel better and to try to find solace in the stories of others. I wanted to check how far we are willing to go as a generation to do what we need to do even at the cost of our personal goals and aspirations.

Chabalala is the founder of the Young Men Movement, the 2018 Obama Foundation Africa Leader, and a 2018 Finland Correspondent Programme participant. Email him at: [email protected]; Twitter @KabeloJay; Kabelo Chabalala on Facebook.