10 ways to stay engaged in a job that you may not love.
The dream of working for yourself
Do you live the dream? You know, the dream of working for yourself?
Chances are, you work for someone else. Inc. magazine recently published an article about the the everyone-wants-to-work-for-themselves phenomenon:
- 14% of Americans work for themselves
- 51% think that working for themselves is a really good idea
- 80% plan to work for themselves in the next three years
- 20% are scratching their heads, wondering who is actually at work right now
By the way, I want to declare from the outset that I don’t want to work for myself. Why you ask? Well, I am a crappy boss to myself: I don’t often reward myself, the pay is crappy, and I talk nasty about myself. Seriously, I am happy to work for someone else and add my creativity to the job wherever I find myself.
How did we get to the place that we think that working for someone else is selling out? If we go with the Inc. stats this means that 86% of Americans feel kinda crappy most of the time about their work.
This translates into the following statistics:
- You work 40 hours per week
- 86% of that time, or 34.4 hours is spent feeling crappy, leaving
- 5.6 hours per week of real productivity
- 1 hour thinking Hmm (this is a bonus hour, take it on your own time folks).
Does everyone in Corporate America hate their jobs?
Okay, I am using humor to make a point that not everyone in ‘Corporate America‘ hates their job. Most people think about working for themselves, but most end up staying at their jobs. That begs the question – Does it mean that most people are unhappy about their work? Are they sell outs?
A few more numbers for the fun of it:
- 168 hours in a week
- 56 hours sleeping
- 118 hours awake
- 50 hours invested in work (assuming you work just one job), along with hours driving to and from work (eg. 30 minute commute time each way)
- 7.5 hours eating and getting ready for work (assuming a five day work week, an hour of eating per day and 30 minutes per day getting ready)
- 7 hours looking for lost items
- 49.5 hours of disposable time to do whatever you want
The way I see it is that almost half of our wake hours are spent at work, preparing for work, driving to work and thinking about work. Work is a significant investment of your time and life-energy and if nearly half of your life you feel like a sell out, that is not good for your self esteem. Okay North America, it’s time to stand up against the idea that you and I should feel crappy because we work for someone else.
What are the costs of feeling like a sell out?
If you work for someone else and that makes you feel like a sell out, it can have some pretty negative consequences:
- Just putting in time, not investing anything
- Leaving your values at the door
- Not using any of your strengths in your work
- Not bringing your passion to work
- Spending your day fantasizing about your evening or your weekend rather than engaging in a meaningful task
How do you insulate yourself from feeling like a sell out?
If you and I spend most of our time feeling like we have sold out, it will impact our mental health and our sense of well being. I have spent the past two months interviewing people who should feel like sell outs, but they don’t: People who stay in jobs that they don’t love. Most of them feel empowered rather than empty because they do some simple things.
Ten ways to prevent the negative impacts from feeling disengaged:
- Have your own goals for work: such as paying their bills, having health insurance and benefits
- Remind yourself of the reasons you took their job, sometimes every day.
- Have outside dreams and passion
- Invest in your relationships at work rather than just doing the tasks of work
- Find meaning through spirituality
- Find things in your work-day that you can be passionate about
- Practice healthy self care
- Don’t expect your job to fulfill every need
- If you need to, think of your current job as preparation for the next job
- Understand willpower fatigue and choose not to stay in a job you hate
This last one is one that I want to highlight: the more you have to fight the sense that you hate your job, the more reason to look for something else. But if you don’t love your job, stay put. Being in love with a job is not a requirement. A lot of jobs suck once in a while. Just ask your next door entrepreneur who has worked her fourth 14 hour day this week.
You can reclaim your time and your life from the oppression of feeling like a sell-out. Choose one of the strategies and begin to practice it. Be warned though: feeling good about your work will take work, just like feeling good takes an investment of healthy eating, exercise, a healthy thought life and positive social relationships.
This article is part of my ongoing series about what I call a “Creative Stayer,” someone who remains in a job that they may not love, for their own reasons. You can see my previous articles by clicking, Choose Yourself: Freedom is Found in Hard Work, The Emotionally Intelligent Entrepreneur, The Myth of Quiet Desperation: Your Job Does Not Need To Be Your Passion, and Love Your Work and it Will Love You Back.
I continue to interview people for this series, Creative Stayers. If you would like to be involved, you can email me at [email protected] Ten minutes, three questions, one goal: to help you think about what keeps you creative when you remain in a job that you may not love.