Do you hate your job? With popular books like The 4-Hour Workweek and It’s Called Work for a Reason, you probably aren’t alone. Most people will tell you the problem is the job. They say you need to find something your passionate about. The problem isn’t you, it’s the job.
But sometimes it is you. Your distaste for work might come from something other than a job description. In order to love work, you need to change how you deal with it.
Work is a Relationship
When a relationship goes bad, part of the problem might be that it just wasn’t a good match. You weren’t right for each other.
But part of the problem might be how you handle relationships. Jealousy, nagging or commitment issues aren’t usually desirable, no matter what your personality type is. Finding a match is important. But unless you have a healthy attitude and ability to handle relationships, they will never work.
Your relationship with work is the same. Finding the right match, or your passion, is critical. But without getting the right attitude and behaviors towards your work, you’ll always hate it.
Hate From Force
Many people report to hate their jobs, even though they actually feel happier when working. In the book Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi showed research that suggested most people’s leisure time feels empty and boring. At work they are engaged and rate themselves as feeling content. But when asked what they would rather be doing, they want to relax.
Isn’t this insanity? That we’re driven to do what makes us feel worse, and are completely unaware of it?
I believe the reason is because of force. Leisure is optional, work is necessary. Because you choose to relax, that makes you feel happier about it than the work you are forced to do. This is why many people enjoy hobbies but hate work. Both can be equally engaging and challenging, but only one is a choice.
Work is a Choice
How do you remove this unnecessary hate of work. Realize that work is a choice.
Some work might be necessary to buy food and shelter. But unless you are nearing extreme poverty, your income probably covers that several times over. Tuition, clothes, travel, entertainment and cars are all luxuries. Don’t mistake them for the necessities.
If you regard work as a choice, two things happen:
- You become more aware of your actual level of passion for the job.
- Any passions you do have can be expressed.
If work is only a choice, you might realize that you absolutely hate your job. As a result, your goal should be to start looking for a new job immediately, even if you need to take a cut in pay.
But what you might realize is that the chains of necessity are depriving you of taking any enjoyment out of a job you might like. If you have the power to choose, then you can appreciate work more. I know many people that got into a career they enjoyed, but feeling forced to work slowly twisted any joy they got from it until they were left with hate.
Building a Work Ethic
Beyond just your attitudes, you need to take a look at how you approach work. If any pressure or difficulty makes you want to jump on a plane to Hawaii, then even a great job will make you miserable. Without a strong work ethic, you can’t get the intrinsic benefits work can offer.
A strong work ethic means you can get satisfaction from working hard and you’ve disciplined yourself to overcome initial frustrations. This work ethic takes practice and skill. Relationships with people won’t work if you lose your temper with the first fight. Similarly, your relationship with work can’t function if you don’t have a work ethic to get you over the hard parts.
I love to write. Although I get paid to do it, I would keep doing it even if it paid me nothing and I was broke.
However, it can usually take ten to fifteen minutes of thinking and tweaking before I settle upon an idea to write about. Sometimes I can write off articles immediately without stopping and other times I can sit at my computer for half an hour, playing with ideas without finding a topic and angle I like.
During these difficult periods, the immediate urge is to give up. But I’ve learned if I can push through momentary creative blocks, the work can be incredibly satisfying. Once you build up a pace, you feel as if nothing can slow you down.
Work can give difficulties in little blocks like these, or major blocks with a manager who can’t meet results with his employees or a programmer who doesn’t know where to start a project. Building a work ethic means you can push through these frustration barriers and actually enjoy the work you do.
Changing the Role of Work
I don’t want to suggest you should stick with a job you hate. I’d never suggest you hang on to a toxic relationship, and the same is true here. But don’t just look for a match. Consider your behaviors and attitudes towards work. Unless you change your perceptions of work and build a work ethic to move through barriers, any job will be painful.