One of my oldest posts on the blog is not very good, so don’t go look for it, but it’s about my life-long rebellion toward the day job and the question of whether or not a day job exists in which I could be happy. Yes, Virginia, a day job like that exists, my commenter responded to the post. And this post is me, admitting that person had a point.
I never doubt that some people have day jobs they love. I think it’s about 20% of the employed population actually. I can imagine loving the thing I do for a living, but I have consistently rebelled against the idea that I ever could.
I’m a creative, I told myself, the classic starving artist type. I want to do nothing but make things and write, or think about making things and writing, all day, all the time. Unfortunately, a starving artist is no good to the children, so I got a day job anyway.
I have been in various versions of this, always attempting to be grateful and see the good but insistent on kicking and screaming on the inside that this is not where I want to be. And I couldn’t see the fix. I believed my intention to be a writer and my rebellion against the day job were the same. I thought the time and energy it would take to pursue growth in the day job would steal focus from the place I really wanted to grow, the dream.
Despite myself, I applied for a transfer this summer. I don’t dare write about how sure I am of the move I have made (I got it!). I won’t say I will never have the Sunday night blues again or I will never again feel rebellious about that rigid forty hours (why? Why forty?). I will say it was short-sighted of me to ignore the problems I had with the day job. I’m beginning to think improvement in how I feel about the day might actually help the dream.
Here are all the reasons you shouldn’t ignore problems in your day job either. The point is that some day jobs fit better than others, and there is no reason we shouldn’t try and find them.
John Thomas, a motivational speaker I heard once, said that to know and be your brand all the time, to everyone and in every situation, is one way to find more joy in the day job. What if you could find a work environment that has a similar brand? A sense of belonging is a great plus in the day job. (Examples of brand: I list artistry, sincerity, and kind, effective communication in my brand. I also call myself a champion for the kinder, happier workplace, and it helps a lot to work with people who feel the same.)
A Balanced Pie Chart
What if we could look at our life as a whole and find a day job that allows us to use the parts of our brain that aren’t already overworked at home? (Example: It’s hard to be a secretary in a business and still be a thoughtful, un-angry secretary of the home.) What if it complemented what we love most (words and language, in the case of me) without competing with our outside pursuits? (Example: I won’t be writing anything imaginary in my new job but I will be collaborating on lots of written words. Hello, wheelhouse.)
The Right Kind of Challenging
Many productivity gurus and entrepreneurs will agree with me on this: Busy is not the right kind of challenging. Having more to do than you can finish well is not what people mean when they say they feel challenged at work. Challenging is when you are given work that requires all of you – dedicated time, thought, and heart. You have to dig in a bit to finish it well, and you’re given the room to do that. This is the right kind of challenging. The satisfaction in completing lots of things and the satisfaction in completing meaningful things is similar, but different. I prefer the latter. Otherwise, believe me, I would have quit writing books a long, long time ago.
My previous position at my medical university was administrative assistant. I am now a proposal development specialist and super happy to be here. If you had granted me one wish, I would have asked for forward motion with my books instead of my day job. Maybe with this change, though, I can enjoy my [own special brand of a super slow-moving] creative journey without the need for it to rescue me from anything. To like my day and then to make room for my art. That’s the master plan.
I’m on it.