If your job has you down, you have three basic options:
- Stay and become a troublemaker.
- Change your thinking to feel better about your job.
This post is about #3. Some jobs are worse than others, but that doesn’t mean they are bad jobs. Chances are they represent important work that someone needs to do. I can’t imagine laying asphalt shingles on a 90-degree day in July. I can, however, appreciate the sense of security I feel at having a watertight roof over my head.
People Who Like Bad Jobs
Whenever I meet someone who does a job I would never want to do, I frequently am surprised when the person tells me, “I like my work.”
I know that what works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another. Still, I can’t help but wonder, How can that be?
Working hard to not let my bias show, I’m prone to ask the question, “What do you like about it?” Here are common answers:
- I like my coworkers.
- I like knowing the work I do makes other people happy.
- I like staying busy and this job keeps me on my toes.
- I like the hard, physical labor.
- I like working the weekends (nights) so I can get things done on my off hours when crowds are thinner.
- I like working outside.
- I like being able to walk to work and come home for lunch.
- I like the routine so I can let my mind wander.
- I like putting in my time and leaving work behind each day when I punch out.
None of the answers are about the work itself, but instead address the environment, conditions, or outcomes.
It’s All About Focus
This is why I’ve come to believe that whether we like or dislike our jobs has little to do with the job and a lot to do with where we place our focus.
Sure there may well be jobs you shouldn’t do and others which might be the perfect match. But for most of us, there’s a wide range of work opportunities which could be quite satisfying if we focus on the right aspects of it.
When I think about my own work, there are tasks I like and some that I don’t.
5 Tasks I Like
- Lead workshops for engaged and spirited audiences.
- Talk with company leaders about their goals and how to reach them.
- Facilitate high-stakes meetings for senior leadership teams.
- Interview team members to discover underlying problems.
- Inspire people to take action.
5 Tasks I Don’t Like
- Create handouts for workshop participants.
- Generate invoices.
- Search for blog post images.
- Go to the post office or the bank.
- Transcribe meeting notes.
It’s Your Choice
I spend time doing tasks from each list. They are all important. I noticed that when I wrote them, the first list was the easier one to make. That’s because I normally choose to focus on what I like rather than what I don’t. As a result of my choice, I usually feel pretty good about the work I do.
You can decide whether or not to like anything. Do you remember all those foods you hated as a kid? I bet some of them are now on your favorites list. Raw tomatoes and Brussels sprouts would both be on mine. How about coffee? Did you like it the first time you drank it?
Our preferences develop over time and ultimately are within our control to choose. I like having a choice.
Rediscover Your Current Work
If you want to feel good about your job, figure out what tasks you like best. Keep your focus on those tasks. It’s a choice that is completely within your control. It’s the choice that leads to higher levels of job satisfaction.