I would like to start by asking you something: What’s the purpose of studying in college?
The answer I would like to offer you is this: To get a paper. To get something we call “diploma” or “certificate.”
Why? So you can exchange it for a job position.
What for? So you can work and in exchange for your time and energy. You will get more papers at the end of the month that you can exchange in the world for food, clothing, shelter, experiences and other stuff.
So, looking at it from this perspective sounds a little like Monopoly, right?
Let’s try another challenging perspective. What is the purpose of this “game” we call work?
If you ask around, the most common answer you will get is that the ultimate goal is to stop working someday. In our language, we call it “retirement.”
So bottom line: We work so that, one day, we can stop working, and we can retire.
This is what I call the “finite game.” I call it that because it has a beginning and an end. The whole purpose and goal of this game is that it finishes sometime, someday. And it’s not only work. College and school have the same goal. You start so you can end.
After interviewing and sharing experiences with many people, I discovered that one big issue most people don’t realize when they play this game is that no matter what position you get in it — and even when you win “first place” in the game, which in the corporate world we could say it’s to become the president of a company — most probably you are going to feel a sense of emptiness.
A sense of “Is that all?”
Please do not believe what I’m saying. For the purpose of my perspective, answer this question: How many times have you thought or said to yourself at work, “Once I get there, or I get this, will I feel happy and fulfilled?”
This fulfilling emotion was really not the same you had fantasied with.
On the other end, we have a pretty different game.
It’s what I call “the infinite game.”
It’s called infinite because it never ends. It is based on an activity that is so connected, important and fulfilling to you that you will never want to stop doing it. You will always ask for more.
Because what is the purpose of doing what you love?
To do it as much as you can, right? As long as you can, right?
The challenging question I invite you to reflect on is this: What can you imagine doing in your life that you think you will never, ever want to stop doing?
To find this answer, I would like to offer you some questions that may be helpful in the process of finding the right answers for you:
• Who are you?
• What makes you different from other people? What makes you unique?
• What are your natural talents and skills?
• What were your passions when you were a child? What are your passions today?
• What’s your dream?
Next time you look for a job, I invite you to think about “the game” you are choosing to play and to be conscious about what you are expecting to get out of it.
Nico Iglesias is a therapist and professional coach in San Francisco. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.