Don't Just Punch the Clock

I won’t go into all of the details, but I was unexpectedly faced with the need to contemplate my career path last week. And, while I don’t think anyone still expects to get that gold watch after holding the same job for the same company for their entire career, I wonder if people put as much thought into their jobs as they should.

Aside from the ever present problem of job security, I’m troubled by the number of times I meet a person who’s unhappy with his/her current position yet not only continues to be employed there, but often works hideous amounts of overtime. Unfortunately, for most, the solution may not be as simple as just moving on.

Consider the following equation: ((1+4+1+4+1) x 5)/ ((24-8) x 7) = 0.49

Now review the above equation taking into account the following information…

In the United States, the average full time employee’s commute to work is approximately one hour, followed by a four-hour morning shift, an average lunch of one hour (usually spent at work), four hours in the afternoon, and yet another hour in the car to get home. Multiply that daily routine by five days a week and you get a total of 55 hours. Divide that by the 112 hours of non-sleep time per week (24 hours minus an average of 8 hours a night, seven days a week). And, it all adds up to reveal that the average person spends about fifty percent of his/her time (per week) in activities related to his/her work. Therefore, if you’re one of the growing many that are dissatisfied with his/her job, it can mean that you spend half of your time unhappy.

What’s worse, if you’re not happy at work, I guarantee you that your negativity is not only affecting your work, but those who work around you, consequently making it harder for them to be happy at work. Also, with most, the disappointment ends up spilling over into your personal time. Time, as I’ve already shown, which is far too limited as it is. Am I the only one who sees this as a problem?

But, the solution to this problem is not as simple as one might think. If you quit, you may just find yourself in the same situation a few months down the road. So, the answer is not necessarily to change jobs, but to change your attitude towards work itself.

Too many people never realize that you don’t have to love your job to be happy. The trick is to either like your job or like what your job provides. Put a different way, either love what you do or love why you do it.

Obviously, it would be great if everybody was in the first group. But, let’s face it, that just isn’t realistic. However, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the other option. It is perfectly acceptable to say: “Yes, I am just in it for the money,” or “Yeah, the job sucks, but I get my afternoons off.” I’m not sure how many janitors actually love what they do, but I suspect that a large number of them love the stability that the job provides and cherish the other things that accompany that particular type of employment. In general, it’s a less stressful environment than most. You are generally left alone in your tasks. You work a lot with your hands. And, in many cases, your hours can be quite flexible.

In other cases, some people find it very comforting to have a job that does not require much thought. Or, others may find that certain jobs have particularly helpful “perks,” such as employee discounts or free meals. If you like to play sports, it’s not crazy to investigate whether or not a potential employer participates in a softball or bowling league. Whatever your situation, it is crucial to value your job for what it provides, not just criticize it for what it lacks. Take what you can from your work and leave the rest for the other fifty percent of your time.

And, that is the other key. Those that do not particularly enjoy what they do should not spend any more time than they already do thinking or worrying about it. If you love your job, it’s great to come home and share your day with family or fiends. However, if you’re unhappy with your job, leave it at work. Learn to let go. Take pride in your work, always do your best, but when the whistle blows and it’s time to go home, go and don’t think twice about it. This becomes most critical with those that hold positions that require a lot of overtime. As I’ve already shown, half your time is spent at work, so think long and hard before taking, or even continuing, a position that infringes even more upon that percentage.

Once you’ve taken all of this in, it’s time for one last step: put up or shut up! Realize that no job is perfect. But, strike a balance and accept that sometimes a job is nothing more than the price you have to pay to accomplish the things you want in your “free” time.

And, one last piece of advice, regardless of from where your motivation comes: always approach your work as if your job is on the line because, if you don’t, more often than not, it will be.
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Volume 3, Issue 8, Posted 2:22 PM, 04.10.2007