Job Satisfaction – Yes You Can


Morrissey nailed the British attitude towards work when he sang:


I was looking for a job, and then I found a job
And heaven knows I’m miserable now

A handful of Londoners I know are passionate about their work (all of them self-employed). A minority of content, sensible people treat their jobs as a means to an end. Mostly, though, people complain. In shops, on buses, at the gym, they moan about the commute, the politics, the gossip, the tea-round, the reports, the boss, the admin, the atmosphere, the expectations, the air conditioning, the meetings, the colleagues, the parties, the salary, the prospects, and the tedium. Yet they get up every morning and go to work.

The most common justification for this self-defeating behaviour? “Because not everyone can have their dream job”.

True. But just because not everyone can have a job they love is no reason for you (and you, and you, and you) to not try. There are people who can’t afford food, but you don’t let that stop you eating, do you? The plain fact is a lot of intelligent, educated, able-bodied, skilled, geographically and socio-economically privileged chose to play the victim-of-circumstance because it is easier than changing.

I’m not talking about conscious compromise of the: “I hate my job but it pays mad money so I do it anyway” sort, but the inexcusable: “I hate my job and want to do something different but I can’t.”

Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time, “can’t” is bullshit. It’s a euphemism for “won’t”, or “I’m scared”, or “I don’t know how”.

Each of those is a legitimate sentiment when honestly held and expressed. Otherwise, it’s a pitiable excuse.

I know because I’ve spent most of my adult life making excuses and mistakes, copping out, compromising, and selling myself short. Until I realised there is no fairy godmother in the wings. Nobody is going to give me permission to live my dreams. If I want job satisfaction I must choose to be satisfied.

I have options – lots of ’em. If I choose to not exercise them, fine, but I cannot pretend they don’t exist. It is dishonest, and disrespectful to people who are genuinely struggling.

People who are working for sheer survival don’t have time for self-pity.

Need some inspiration? Read on…
Meet the Pickleman
Ms Cupcake’s Sweet Success
How To Do What You Really Want

Decision Making

Are you looking for the road less-travelled?


As I’ve chipped away at the Family on Bikes story (a paragraph or two over Saturday morning coffee, a stolen few minutes between advertising case studies at work) one word is always on my mind: choice.

The Vogel’s story is, at root, a story about making decisions. About waking up to the fact that if you don’t call the shots in your life someone else will because someone has to. (Shots get called. That’s how it works.) Talking to Nancy has made me aware of the gap between how we perceive decision making and how we do it. I suspect we give ourselves more credit for autonomy than we actually deserve. We think we’re free-wheeling, decision making machines. But how many of our choices are honest? How often do we stop and reflect on what we really want as opposed to simply reacting to what we think is expected of us?

Nancy bumped up against this when John suggested hitting the road with Daryl and Davy. Her knee-jerk “that’s not what parents do” seemed like a decision until she thought about it, mulled it over, and realised it was just a reaction. Parsing her response helped her choose based what she really valued versus what she thought she was supposed to value.

That is real decision making and it is absolutely a discipline. To make good decisions we have to reclaim our instinctive selfishness. Children, and adults who have a healthy level of self-interest, make decisions based on what makes them happy, satisfies their physical needs, and makes them feel loved and secure. Education warps this innate good sense by teaching that there are more important things than love, health, and self-determination. Money is accepted as a definition of “success” and culturally-constructed notions of what people “should” do are given priority. “Normal” takes over from natural as a guiding principle. The process is insidious. Most people are barely conscious of having sacrificed their freedom to simple convention. Nancy discovered she was not immune. “Quitting your job and putting your kids on a bicycle just wasn’t done. I had no role model,” she says. “Nothing out there that was telling me this was okay, this was do-able. It was an internal struggle.”

The struggle is essential and inevitable. It forces you to decide what you value, which may not be as obvious as it sounds. Fantasising about hitch-hiking across Mongolia is one thing but if you can’t imagine life without HD TV and an espresso machine you need to reconsider. Making good decisions means being honest about what you want, not what you think you should want, or what someone else expects you to want.


Further reading

Decisions
Self-Education
Self-Determination