A Rebuttal - Your Job does not Define who You are

I think what I love the most about Sundays is that I can spend my entire day writing.

I love writing, I love blogging and I love sharing with all of you wonderful people. It's what drives me, it gives me that reason to haul myself out of bed in the mornings. However, blogging is only a small portion of my life, a part of my life which I wish had more time to indulge in

In the last week or so, I've been finding it harder to allot time to my writing, simply due to the fact that I have to drag myself to a menial retail job between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm, five to six days a week; which only allows for my coffee break, my half hour lunch and my evenings free to write. It's a pity but it's the reality and it is something that I have to accept.

I know that there are many of you out there, who are in the same boat. Those who have to work a job that you hate; whether it's to support a family, yourself or your dreams, there's no denying the fact that you are "stuck" with this career. We don't all have the luxury or opportunity to drop it all and chase our dreams. 

I came across an article recently in relation this topic which I found alarming and disturbing. The author claimed that by putting your very best into that job that you hate, fulfillment and happiness will follow. I would wholy disagree with this sentiment. 

If you truly hate your job and there is genuinely nothing within its repetitive and tedious nature that adorns you with some sort of wholehearted self satisfaction, then searching for any kind of purpose or fulfillment within it will break you entirely. You are only chasing the dragon, you will never catch it. 

An early episode of the Simpsons springs to mind here. After a ten year stint in the nuclear power plant Homer had finally paid off enough bills so that he could chase his dream job without sacrificing the needs of his family. He left his job at the nuclear power plant to the rhythmic bongo beat of Mr. Burns' head and excitedly took up his new roll at the bowling alley. He was the happiest he had ever been, until Marge fell pregnant with Maggie and he knew he would have to get his old job back at power plant. Homer gave up his dream in order to provide for his family. He was plunged back to a hollow and meaningless job, complete with a new plaque.

Homer didn't take the approach of giving his all to his horrible job to deal with this, he did the opposite, he immersed himself in something that he loves, something that makes him act in unselfish ways, something he was passionate for, he stuck photographs of his baby girl along every square inch of his cubicle wall. To remind him that he doesn't live for his work, he lives for the people he loves. 

Getting back to the article, the author posed that there were three keys to finding fulfillment in the job you hate:  

    Hating your job won't make you any happier 
    Do better work and the work will become more enjoyable
    Realize your whole life is a form of work

These three keys are nothing more than waffle and an oversimplification, to say the least. He portrayed himself as though he was much smarter than the average Joe who hadn't worked out the simple equation; positivity = happiness. It seemed the purpose of the article was that of a self congratulatory shallow sentiment, rather than offering any practical and achievable advice; can anyone say circle jerk? 

Frankly, his advice is extremely destructive to anybody seeking their purpose to life and seemed somewhat contradictory to his earlier works. He went out and got himself a fulfilling job, yet his advice to others, is to search for fulfillment in your meager job that you hate. Are we not all worthy of achieving our dreams? Does he feel that he is the only one deserving of authentic fulfillment? He does broach the subject of leaving that job you hate but again, he has oversimplified matters entirely. 

As a side note, as an influential author who claims to help people, you need to be very careful as what you portray to be solid fact. Furthermore if you are going to leave the piece open for discussion, counterpoints shouldn't be censored. 

For anybody who is truly trying to find fulfilment in their job but cannot, I offer another view on this. A viewpoint coming from going on thirteen years experience working in a soul destroying, menial job. 

Pretending to like your job won't make you any happier 

Sure, you can try, you can lure yourself into a shallow sort of happiness that reeks of the gratitude of having a job, however, that smile that you stretch across your face every day will become harder and harder to muster, that enthusiasm you so vigorously portrayed for your work will disintegrate; all it was after all, was a just portrayal, a portrayal of how your supposed to appear. 
Don't waste energy on hating your job either, just become complacent about it. 

Do just enough work and the work will become less consuming

Putting your all into your job will work IF there is something about your job that is genuinely fulfilling when you decide to put in the effort. If there is literally no aspect of your job that gives you some sort of self satisfaction, it is impossible to truly find peace with it. This method will eventually wear you down. I tried this way for most of my working life and it destroyed me. You need to instead focus your energy on something that you find truly fulfilling, rather than searching for it where it will never be found. 

Realise your whole life isn't about work

When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you need to do is turn your working day into simply your day. Stop immersing yourself in your work and wasting your energy on something that will never truly fulfill you. Just do enough of your job to meet what is required of you. Make getting out of bed worthwhile by being passionate and excited about your day by spending your free moments engaged with something that brings you pure and unadulterated pleasure. 
Find that thing that drives your passion and practice it every day. Indulge during your brief coffee break, get lost during your lunch, continue in the evenings and your days off. 
Once you begin to include your pleasure into your daily routine, you'll find that complacency towards your job will gradually develop. You'll focus less on how much you hate your job once you provide an outlet for your true self to shine. 

Once we understand that our job doesn't define us, we leave ourself open to new learning experiences and opportunities. It is then that we can begin to live our dreams while working our less than fulfilling jobs. 

If you find my words in anyway helpful I offer a lot more perspective, guidance and advice on this subject in my free ebook, When I Grow up, I Want to be...

© Sarah O’Regan

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