Career fulfillment is at least as important as talking like Long John Silver and kicking red-haired people. Yet the latter two activities have their own days set aside for them every year (Talk Like a Pirate Day and Kick a Ginger Day), while career fulfillment languishes unrecognized. It is time to remedy that. I propose that today, and henceforth, the first day of spring be recognized as Career Fulfillment Day.
No doubt some people will think, “But every day should be Career Fulfillment Day! Career fulfillment should be on our minds daily.” The latter is certainly true, but by that logic every day should be Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, too, and I don’t imagine anyone but florists and chocolatiers proposing that. It makes sense to designate one day out of the year to pay special attention to our professional happiness and development, and the vernal equinox is the obvious choice, because in so many ways it symbolizes the touchstones of true career satisfaction.
First: balance. On the first day of spring, night and day are in perfect balance, being both exactly the same length. This symbolizes the notion that, in order to be truly successful and content, you must work for precisely twelve hours each day. Or perhaps more broadly, career fulfillment depends on achieving a sense of balance on whatever levels matter to you personally: work/life, mental/physical, solo/collaboration, etc.
Second: progress. The first day of spring is a milepost on the route to times of warmth, light, greenery, and growth. For some of us it may be milepost 0 — I hear New England is getting a snowstorm today — but still, it is a marker of the rebirth of the earth after the darkness and discontent of winter. Career fulfillment often springs from a similar passage from gloom to sunshine, as we move into work that suits and energizes us. But even when we are already in a job we love, continuing career satisfaction depends on continuing progress — always finding new challenges, new opportunities, new routes to growth.
Third: adaptability. To remain in career fulfillment, we must be able to adapt to changes of condition. This year, the first day of spring falls on March 20, but due to the vagaries of celestial mechanics, that is not always the case. Sometimes the first day of spring is March 21. Thus, choosing the vernal equinox as Career Fulfillment Day — rather than a set date like March 20 — reminds us of the need to be aware of, and to attend to, changes in circumstance.
Fourth: variability. Remember, one man’s vernal equinox is another man’s autumnal equinox. Down in the Southern Hemisphere, today marks the start of the long grinding slide into winter, and they won’t be able to celebrate their Career Fulfillment Day until their first day of spring in late September. There can be no single Career Fulfillment Day that works for everyone, just as there is not one single formula for career fulfillment that works for everyone.
So let’s celebrate today and every vernal equinox as Career Fulfillment Day. Give someone a box of career-fulfilling chocolates. Throw a career fulfillment party. Or take some time to map out your short-and long-term goals, select specific steps to take towards those goals, and even take at least one of those steps forward. Even if every day should be Career Fulfillment Day, it helps to pick one day on which to think about how best to make that happen.