“Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.”
I’m a pretty notoriously un-grateful person. I’ve mostly disliked just about every job I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some objectively great jobs.
I’ve worked professional jobs, summer camps, corporate jobs, English teaching jobs, freelance jobs and minimum wage jobs.
And I’ve disliked almost every single one. Either they became too easy and I wasn’t learning enough, or there was tons of bullshit and politics I had to deal with on a daily basis.
But as time went on and I got more picky looking for jobs, I started getting more and more jobs that people were competing for and I still disliked them.
I got jobs that people kept saying were pretty sweet gigs, but I still was dragging myself out of bed in the morning.
And that’s when I realized there was probably not something wrong with the jobs, but something wrong with me.
The art of hating your job
There are a million and one reasons to hate a job, and probably just as many reasons not to hate your job. It’s easy to point out something as a valid reason for hating your job: dumbass coworkers, a confining cubicle, sub-par pay, a douchebag boss, a commute, monkey work that has no meaning to it, and probably a dozen other things.
The thing is this: it’s easy to hate your job. It doesn’t take any effort or skill. It takes four second to complain about how shitty your circumstances are, but it takes a hell of a lot more time to change those circumstances.
The true art is in doing a job you may dislike but learning how to enjoy it – whether that’s for a day, or for a year. I mean if you hate the job, ideally you are going to change jobs. That’s not always possible, and in today’s economic times (Mumble mumble economic bullshit tough to find job blah blah), people are more likely to hold onto crap jobs than they were before.
So — chances are (statistically speaking) your job isn’t exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life (or in my case, my jobs I usually don’t want to do for more than three months), and chances are you also don’t want to be miserable. So you pretty much have to accept your job and learn to love it in some way until you can quit it – and here’s how.
The art of loving a crap job
“The Mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
I won’t define what a “crap job” is. That depends on each person, and most importantly, depends on each person’s thinking.
And that’s sort of the essence behind accepting a job you may not really like. This is the part where many of you may X out the internet and choose to live in denial rather than accept reality.
For people who chronically hate their jobs, like me, it’s most often their mind making them miserable, and not the job.
You know, for a long time I thought that was the “sign” i was a born entrepreneur. “I’m miserable at every job, even good jobs, there’s no way I was designed to do this!!” I would tell myself and others.
In reality my thinking was just poisonous – I would tell myself I was better than the job, better than the slackers I worked with, better than even the people who had been there 20 years.
I would tell myself that I deserved a better job (careful with that one…) because I was better than this crapshoot 9-5 I went through on a daily basis.
My thinking poisoned me and made me so discontent with every job that I started reading everything I could on ambition, success, and happiness and where they intersect.
And that’s when I came upon a goldmine.
Why do South African kids love school?
Talk to American kids and ask them what they think of school, and what response to you get? Projectile vomit.
My little brother just turned 13 and he tells me every day that he’s not going to college because school sucks. Glad he has his future planned out better than I do.
But what happens when you ask kids elsewhere what they think about school ? In an excerpt from The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor talks about the response when he posed the same question to South African school kids:
“To his shock 95% raised their hands and starting smiling enthusiastically. I was told that “They see schoolwork as a privilege that many of their parents did not have.” When I returned to Harvard two weeks later, I saw students complaining about the very thing that the [South African] students saw as a privilege. I started to realize just how much our interpretation of reality changes our experience of that reality.”
This was one of the opening passages of the book. Naturally, after reading it, I became curious about what relationship thinking had on work life. And being someone who was chronically unhappy with his work situation I figured I needed plenty of neural re-wiring.
Not sucking at sucky work
As it turns out, Amy Wrzesniewski’s 1997 research study at Yale (See the report here) found that employees have one of three “work orentiations,” about work.
Achor talked more about the implications of her research, “Our job is a job, a career, or a calling. People with a job see work as a chore. People who view work as a career work also for pay but also to advance and succeed. People who view work as a calling view work as an end in itself; it is fulfilling not because of external rewards but because they feel it contributes to greater good and gives them meaning and purpose.
Her most interesting finding was not just that people see their work in one of these three ways, but that it fundamentally doesn’t matter what type of job one has. She found doctors who see their work as a job, and janitors who see their work as a calling. In other words, a calling orientation can have just as much to do with mindset as it does the actual work. ”
Wait — so there are doctors who saw their work as a job (aka slavery), and there are janitors in her study that found their work to be a calling? What they wanted to do for the rest of their lives because it was so enjoyable?
What it means for you and your job
I’m not implying that even if your job belongs on Dirty Jobs you should sing koombya and talk about rainbows, butterflies, fluffy little animals and positive thinking and it will magically transform into your dream job.
All I’m saying is that, from a happiness standpoint, if you’re working a job you don’t want to be, there’s some cognitive dissonance going on there. Either you need to accept it – view your work as something different from slavery, or change it.
Anything else will leave you miserable and hating it.
Either you realize that you and only you are making yourself miserable in a job, and you change the way you think about your job (“I’d rather stab myself in the eye with a fork” ==> “at least I’m getting paid and my coworkers aren’t angry chimpanzees chewing my limbs off”), OR you make a change.
But if you do find yourself in a set of circumstances – life, work, love – and the outside keeps changing and changing and changing but inside you find yourself feeling the same thing, maybe it’s time to ask yourself:
“Does my job really suck, or is it all in my head?”
Image by Victory Rose