Why Work Isn’t Enough
It happens almost every time we meet with a prospective client, often parents. They present one of two things: the desire for their adolescent or adult child to obtain gainful employment, or receipts of employment experiences. They chronicle the sometimes-exhaustive preparations made for employment such as specific skill development, professional resume building, job coaching, and more.
The “Life Isn’t Work” Discussion
We listen with a compassionate ear then proceed to have what we call the “life isn’t work” discussion. At Parallel, we design strategic plans for the future, often referred to as transition plans. These plans are typically created with a central focus on employment and employment readiness geared towards a handful of options that are available to the group or person making the plan.
Life Beyond Work
But there’s more to life than work. And there’s more to work than just a job. Life is about being in community with people you choose to be with. Life is about taking care of yourself and the place you choose to live. Life is about learning new things that interest you and pursuing hobbies and engaging in activities of your liking.
The Work Conundrum
One component of life is the work we do, and that is important. We should all be afforded the ability to do the work we know how to do and most importantly, WANT to do. What is rarely talked about is how to BE at work. Getting the job is often not a challenge for our clients; it’s staying at work. It’s the culture of work and the unique etiquette and requirement that each place of employment creates on their own. These are the factors that will be barriers to staying at work.
Rethinking the “What’s Next” Plan
If life is about more than work, and work is about more than just a job, how does this change our plans for “what’s next”? Simply put, the process needs to go ten steps back to move one meaningful step forward.
Redefining the Future
There are a number of checkbox protocols and standards that will sweep people from school to work, but the stark reality is, the needle hasn’t moved in decades with regards to inclusive employment. The time is now to redefine how we plan for a future of dignity, purpose, and independence.
Start with Who, Why, and Purpose
Start with who. Start with why. Start with purpose. Who is this person and what do they want? Why are we moving in this direction? Do they find purpose in the future I am proposing? More often than not, you’ll find all the answers you need in the person you’re planning for, and nothing could be more dignified than creating a plan for the future they are invested in.