So .... what is a proper job?

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So, what is a proper job?

I’m personally of the opinion that it doesn’t matter what job you do, what qualifications you do and don’t have, how much money you have, as long as you’re happy, you have a roof over your head, food on the table and are continually evolving and developing and doing what enables you to be true to yourself. 

However, not all people are of the same opinion, which is fair enough, we don’t all have to agree and we are all entitled to our own opinions but … I don’t think it’s right to categorise jobs into those that are so called ‘proper’ jobs and those that aren’t. It’s also not right to think of someone as potentially wasting their life or being less of a person because they are not in one of these so-called proper jobs. 

‘Proper’ jobs

Proper jobs apparently being those such as in management, banking, teaching, office work, doctors, nurses, accountants and such like – something that appears to be more ‘steady’ more ‘respectable’ more ‘reliable’ with a clearly defined career path and opportunities to progress and be promoted to seemingly better, more important roles.

Jobs such as waitressing, cleaning, instructing, shop work, pub work, coaching, instructing, painting, writing, and similar seem to not be deemed as proper jobs as such – there is a perception that they’re low paid, no regular hours, a bit hit and miss, no steady, reliable income. They’re what you do when you’re younger and want to earn a bit of extra money whilst as school or to gain a bit of work experience before jumping on the so-called proper career ladder.

I’ve worked since I was 14 years old. I’ve been employed, self-employed, part-time, full-time, held more than one job at a time and only the one job at one time.  I’ve worked in pubs, in shops, in a restaurant, in offices, at various leisure centres, in schools, inside, outside, for private companies, for local authorities. I’ve worked shifts, I’ve worked day jobs, I’ve worked a mixture of both. I’ve been a teacher, a manager, a sports coach, a health & fitness instructor, a tutor, an assessor, a waitress, plus many more.

Suffice to say I think, no I know, that I’m knowledgeable, experienced and attuned to the working life in many of its forms.

I’m also in possession of quite a few qualifications, I love to learn and study (even though this wasn’t always apparent in my younger years) and I will always be yearning to do so. But, not everyone wants to study for a degree, not everyone wants to be a doctor or a teacher or a manager. That doesn’t mean that they don’t want to learn though.

Finding your own path

People have to find their own path in life and not be pressured into doing something that doesn’t ‘fit’ with them or feel right. Yes you may chop and change as you go through life and try different career paths, different jobs, different courses and at the different stages in your life you’ll find what might have suited you before may not do so any longer. I’m not saying be consistently changing and not giving things a chance as it also isn’t beneficial to not be able to actually stick at anything for any period of time.

There has only been one instance in my life where I actually left a job after a short period of time and with no job to go too, the environment was one which was incredibly detrimental to me and I felt that I had no choice but to leave. However it turned out to be one of the best decisions I made as it was then that I decided to apply for university (I eventually went back as a mature student at the ripe old age of 22!) which is where I started back on the path to where, finally, 25 years later I’m actually finally managing to be following more consistently.

I’ve worked in many environments where people were just not suited to the job that they were doing which led to their being unhappy and not being able to undertake their given role as it needed to be undertaken. This also has a knock on effect on other people with whom they work. I’ve been ‘managed’ by people who, at the time, did not possess the attributes and skill set (or who hadn’t received good enough training to acquire these attributes and skills) to be able to manage effectively and efficiently causing ineffective and inefficient working practices and environments.

I think there are so many people in jobs that they don’t want to be but are in them because they are deemed as ‘proper’ jobs and they are fearful of not being in one because of how they will be viewed by society, by their peers, by their friends, by their family or, they don’t know how to actually be true to themselves and their potential so they just meander along in this so called ‘acceptable’ way of working.

Being true to yourself

Be true to yourself’ is the most important thing that I can say for you to do but … it’s not always easy to know what this is, especially if you’ve spent many years doing what has been expected from you, including in terms of the jobs you have done and/or are doing. Yes there will always be jobs or aspects of jobs that you may not like and this is fine – you may be doing a job say for the money to go travelling, there may be plenty of things that you do like about a job which help you manage the parts that you don’t like so much – that is fine too.

You may want to study to get a degree, a Masters, a PhD, you may want to be a doctor, an Accountant, an Engineer – that’s all fine, there is absolutely nothing wrong in that as long as you are doing so because YOU want too not because other people want you to do so or think you should do so. You will only end up feeling resentful, under pressure, unhappy and unfulfilled.

You may be happy being a waitress, a cleaner, an instructor, a sales assistant, whatever role you are in and that is fine too – don’t be pressured to leave or do something else because other people or society think you should. You might also like the less pressured environments of some jobs, the switch off that they can bring and those where you can leave your work at work, where you don’t bring it home with you.

I love what I do, especially the direction in which I am going now, but there have been times over the years where I have thought doing a job with more regular hours, not dependent upon numbers or the bottom line, and not having to bring work home, or work from home, would be much less stressful. But … for me, at the moment what I am working on suits me and fits in with where I want to be going however … it might not be this way forever and then I will adapt and adjust. This does not mean I am any less of a person, and nor is anyone else for doing what is right for them, it does not mean I am wasting my life and it does not mean that I need to have a ‘proper’ job.


There is no such thing as a ‘proper’ job – there are many jobs, many ways of working, many choices available to us all which is great and we should all embrace the fantastic opportunities that there now are to work, in a way, or ways, that are more attuned to us as individuals.

There is no such thing as a ‘proper’ education – yes the norm has been to go through school, acquire GCSEs, A’ Levels, progress to a degree and then get a ‘proper’ job and somehow if you don’t do this then you’re not properly educated. To me education is learning, acquiring knowledge and gaining experience and this can be acquired in many ways – formally, informally, whilst travelling, whilst at school, whilst at home, through reading, through listening, through watching, through experiencing, in fact anywhere and in anyway.

Don’t be pressured to do what others, or society, expect you to do, yes you might have to do a job, that you’d rather not be doing, to bring in the money to pay the bills but whilst you’re doing so you can always be doing the things that you enjoy outside of work whilst perhaps identifying ways that you can also be doing a job that you want to be doing. And, if you enjoy what you’re doing, no matter what it is, don’t be pressured into changing because of what others think you should be doing.

Don’t feel that you are any less of a person if you’re not in a high paying, career structured, steady, reliable income type of role – these type of roles are suitable for some but not for everyone and, often, people in these types of jobs actually burn out.

Do what is right for you during the different stages of your life in order to be happy, to have a roof over your head, food on the table and to be continually evolving, developing and doing what enables you to be true to yourself.




Copyright © 2016 Louise Grafton-Mitchell. All rights reserved. No part of this Blog shall be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information retrieval system without written permission of the publisher.





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