When I talk to people about their jobs, I’ll occasionally have someone tell me that they hate it, or in more direct terms, that “it sucks.”  That sounds pretty harsh, but many of us have been there at one point or time in our lives.

And don’t get me wrong… I’m sure there are jobs out there that aren’t very pleasant (Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs” comes to mind), but I also think we have a big impact on how we perceive it.  So here are 3 reasons your job may “suck” more than it should.

  1. You rely on your job to give your life purpose.  Don’t get me wrong, some of you may feel God has placed you in a job that is perfect for you.  But it’s not the work that gives you purpose; it’s the purpose that allows you to love your work.  Many people feel like they aren’t doing something that taps into their true purpose, and I remind them that there are 168 hours in a week.  We work for 40+ hours, we sleep (hopefully) for 50+ hours… that still leaves plenty of hours (60+) that allow you to pursue, drive, and deliver purpose in your life.  These are the hours that you’ll focus on in 50 years anyway, so why ignore them now?  It’s ok if you don’t “love” your job; just make sure you don’t quit pursuing the things you love and provide purpose to your life.
  2. You’ve never truly defined why you do what you do. Many of us work because we feel we have to, both for monetary and cultural norm reasons.  I know this because I’ve heard people say (including me) “I wouldn’t work if I didn’t have to.”  But few of us actually define what we want to get out of the work we do.  I had a friend who told me he works so he can support his family and because he likes to feel useful.  To him, the job is a means to an end.  Work = Taking care of my family + Feeling Useful. There are many jobs out there he would have been willing to do if they met those two requirements, but if one was missing, that job would fall into the “suck” category pretty quick.  Other people would write the equation as Work = Changing the World + Helping People.  How would you write your equation? Please share in the comments below.
  3. You take yourself, and your work, too seriously. Don’t hear what I’m not saying— I want my brain surgeon to be highly skilled and on his game if, and when, I need him.  But most of us aren’t brain surgeons.  We’re assistants, clerks, specialists, and managers.  That doesn’t mean our work isn’t important, but when we take things too seriously we start to think the world revolves around our role and we lose focus on the big picture.  So you forgot to put a cover on your TPS report… the sun will still rise tomorrow and the zombie apocalypse has been averted for yet one more day.  Learn from your mistake and move on.  And if possible, laugh at yourself.  Somewhere there is someone in a much bigger predicament, with much larger problems, that would love to be in the minor situation like yours.  Smile often, laugh more, and keep things in perspective.

Have other ideas on how to improve the way you look at your work?  Share them in the comments below.  I look forward to hearing them.

Have you seen some of my reflections on returning to corporate work?  You can find them here.line2

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