Complacency

"I'm fine." Yeah right.

It breaks my heart to hear people talk about their work with a half-hearted response of “it’s fine.” That’s not to say that everything always has to be “AMAZING!” And even an over-enthusiastic response can become rote as well. The point is, that through hard patches and great patches, there should be an underlying sense of satisfaction, purpose, and dare I say it…joy in your work. I love this quip by stand-up comedian, Louis CK, as he talks about smoothing over life’s hardships, particularly in parenting and marriage, with the age-old-short-answer of “Great”** (definitely NSFW [explicit]…or home, if children are in the vicinity):

(Starts at 0:52)

“We don’t complain. When you ask a parent, ‘hey, how’s the family?’ We go, ‘Great!’ That’s all we ever say. It’s never f*in ‘great.’ But we say ‘great’ ‘cause we’re not gonna tell you, ‘Well, my wife assassinated my sexual identity, and uh, my children are eating my dreams.’ We don’t f*in bother you with that! We just say ‘great.’” http://youtu.be/x81M3g3zjXc

 

Like Louis pointed out, many times we just reply "It's great" to avoid having the real conversation. It’s hard for me to believe that if everything’s “fine,” that someone is actually truly fulfilled and happy. I think there's a certain level of happiness that they might be achieving in that moment. But if they're honest with themselves, it’s because they don’t ask for anything more. Perhaps good enough is good enough for them. But I have a feeling that the mere fact that you’re reading this post means that you want more than just a job (and a life) that’s just “fine.” You want something more than punching the clock, day in and day out.

For those who just say that work is fine and their life is fine – they’re missing the light of enthusiasm, and that’s what I mean when I talk about being engaged in your work. When someone’s alive with that spark of energy, there’s a difference in their voice, their walk, the way they wake up, in the way they attack life.

There’s a difference in their overall demeanor, because they’re alive with a light of passion that drives everything they do when they’re excited about their work. I believe it's our duty to find out what that is, and it's unique for each one of us, and to go about doing it.

 

I'm curious, have you figured out what that is for you yet? Leave a comment below and let me know.

 

(**Side note: if you have kids, dependents or if you are in a position where someone is dependent upon you for their livelihood, for feeding them or clothing them—there are times when you do have to go to work and just have to get the job done. Whether or not you like it, that’s it. But hopefully this blog and my upcoming book will be able to help move you towards enjoying a job you can’t escape too—by creating a bigger meaning for what you’re doing and allowing that to shine through your work. Stay tuned for more posts about this later.)

Say No to the Status Quo

keep-calm-and-say-no-to-status-quo

There seems to be a general consensus that it’s okay to be unsatisfied and unhappy in our work life. Some of us wear it as a kind of a badge of honor, to go into a job we hate and to battle it out each day, martyring ourselves in hopes that it fulfills our need for feeling significant.  

For others, it’s an epidemic of the doldrums and a overriding dreariness that has been accepted as “normal” within the workplace. If we took a large scanner and grabbed an average sample from the domestic US, I believe we’d see extremely high levels of boredom and dissatisfaction in the workplace. Who is that truly helping? No one.

 

Boredom, stagnancy, and routine may get the baseline level of work done, it’s true. But what company is satisfied with mediocre level work, and mediocre level profits? Dare I suggest that you shouldn’t be either, then?

 

I recently visited a beauty salon and asked my esthetician if she liked her job. To which she replied, “It’s easy.” Let’s not get hypnotized into believing that having a job that’s “easy” or one that just “pays the bills” is good enough.** I believe that all of us have more to contribute than what’s on our résumés. And I believe that you’re more than the 9-5. If the questions have started bubbling up from inside of you, they’re not to be dismissed.

 

Start listening to those desires and the questions that arise from within. Those questions are the sign of life, of a life unlived. It’s been said that the quality of our lives is directly related to the types of questions we ask ourselves. What if Madonna had settled for her job at Dunkin Donuts and given up on her dance career, early on?

 

What if it wasn’t actually “normal” to hate your job? What if it were possible to wake up more often than not, excited to be doing your work?

 

I’m here to tell you that it is possible. Not only because I’ve experienced it, but I’ve witnessed many others who have. And once you know that it’s possible, it’s hard not to want to create it yourself. But this is not the path of the majority, and it is not the easy path. The majority has accepted the routine of mediocrity and one of drudgery. If you want to be a part of the few who are invigorated by their work instead of drained by it, it takes guts.

 

And it starts by saying No to the status quo.

 

**[I will say, however, that there are times in life when a “bridge job” is necessary.  Heck, I happily worked in a cafe serving salads for six months this year to pay my bills while I worked on my projects in the background. Let’s be honest, there’s a lot more you can get done after your “job” is done,  by putting in time from 7pm-12am instead of plunking down and watching 4 episodes of Breaking Bad each night. If you want to hear it from someone other than me, then listen to Gary Vaynerchuk here. (explicit)]**