Sunday, February 15, 2009

Take This Job And Shove It!

Deathbed Test

Imagine yourself on your deathbed. From that vantage point, look back at what you did for a living.

Was it worth it?

You got three options:

i) Keep your job and seethe.
ii) Keep it and stop seething.
iii) Switch.

Keeping it and seething is simplest. Chances are, you’re already doing this. It affords you the frisson of venting – without having to risk anything or move a muscle. The ready-made “lazy and afraid” career-management strategy is staying and seething.

Staying without seething requires effort: the inner workout of exercising optimism and patience, of finding silver linings when your impulse is to shout “Take this job and shove it!”

Switching is the most strenuous workout of all. It’s not just mentally and physically hard but also terrifying, as it means learning new skills and routines and agreeing to take orders from and get along with a new set of strangers.

Yet switching is also easy in at least one sense. If one keeps switching at the first sign of dissatisfaction, one need never learn resilience, patience, or endurance. One is never forced to find inner peace. Instead, one just escapes – perhaps to face the same problems again in the next workplace. In which case one is not stuck in a job, per se, but stuck on starting over – stuck more on discontent, on the idea of being stuck at work, than actually stuck at work.

Taken from Stuck: Why We Can’t (or Won’t) Move On by Anneli Rufus


Two things caught my attention when I was reading this particular section a few days ago. Firstly the question

“Was it worth it?”

What do I mean by that?

I like to see life as a constant struggle between gain and sacrifice. For example, are you willing to spend more time at work and thus sacrificing the time spend with your loved ones? When will you realize that it is no longer worth it? When you no longer have time for dinner with them? When you realized that you hardly know the person lying next to you? Or when your idea of keeping in touch with your friends is sending them sms during festival seasons such as Christmas Day?

What about your health? How do you know it is no longer worth it to work through the nights so that you are able to meet the deadline the next day? Sure, you are a responsible person. You have to answer to the management. You will not allow yourself to be perceived as someone who is inefficient, someone who is unable to take stress, in a nutshell - a weakling.

Yesterday I could not made up my mind between spending Valentine's Day with my wife and going back to office to clear my reports. After some thought, I apologized to her and explained that as a responsible officer, I need to meet the deadline given by the management. My wife turned around, looked into my eyes and said, “You are responsible for me too.” I was totally caught off guard by her comment and we spend a wonderful Valentine's Day together.

Secondly the author is right,

"If one keeps switching at the first sign of dissatisfaction, one need never learn resilience, patience, or endurance. One is never forced to find inner peace."

There is no running away from heavy workloads, bitchy bosses, backstabbing colleagues, demanding clients, irritating emails/phone calls, etc. So what are you going to do about them? Trying to run away from your problems is like assuming that if you run away today, you will be problem-free for the rest of your life.

But guess who created all these problems? You and me, who else? We just can’t stop creating problems. World peace is an illusion. Go ask the politicians.

So what is the solution? According to the author, we have to find our inner peace. But the definition of inner peace is very subjective. What constitute as inner peace for a serial killer is very different from my barber, I hope.

Before Death comes knocking on my door, I am going to do as much as I can to make my life worthwhile. And when I am on my deathbed, I can proudly look back and says, “It was all worth it.”