The other day I was talking to an engineer from a big brand name company. I asked her, what is that she likes most in her job. She said when she knows what needs to be done and she can finish it on time. Also she likes the pay and the benefits.
Do you see a problem here?
Curious me asked, “What else do you like, what do you like about the work?”. “Nothing much, I do this because I have a college degree for this, I can’t afford to change my career”, she answered candidly with zero enthusiasm in her voice. I am sure she is not alone; there are many others whose favorite part of their work is only when it is done.
Why am I “complaining” or even talking about this? Not everyone have the luxury to leave their job and do something they like. Very true and there is more. I believe it is possible to change things to make life more enjoyable for us- It doesn’t have to be drastic – little things can go a long way.
Here are some ideas:
1. Watch your Assumptions
When you say I don’t enjoy my job but can’t afford to forgo the paycheck – notice the assumption you are making. I hear that the assumption – “it is all or nothing”.
Here is an example: This engineer I mentioned above was saying she can’t afford to change it because of the financial constraint. Noticing the pattern of the blocking assumption, I consciously set this topic aside and for the next few minutes talked about what she likes and enjoys. It came out that she likes artistic activities – painting, making things from scratch etc. Then I asked: what is the closest job that could use the computer science background and the knack for artistic activities? She figured UI design would be more interesting. With further exploration she realized that to get a UI designer job she won’t need to have lots of additional training. Few evening courses can get her started. She got pretty excited to see the possibility of getting a more enjoyable job without sacrificing her existing skill set.
Q. What assumption is blocking you today to make things more enjoyable for you?
2. Assess your Priority, Capacity of Risk
Being not happy with one’s job or career is not a news. Question is – how important it is for you to do anything about it. As an Adult we have the capacity to do things against our wills to fulfill other needs. But when the lack of motivation and the related unhappiness goes beyond some limit and starts costing our overall well being we need to escalate it. Are you losing your sleep over it (I did)? Are you convinced that you deserve more enjoyment from your work (I did). Is it that important to you?
Any change involves certain risks. Usually money comes first when thinking about risks. Carving out time, cutting down on commitments are some of the others. Once again watch out for any blocking assumptions!
Q. What risks are you willing to take in exchange of (the possibility of) a more enjoyable work life?
3. Start taking Baby Steps
Start taking small actions, that you can accomplish in 1-2 hours per week. Take the actions keeping these following purposes in mind: