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.”


Anonymous said...

Hi, there is truth to what you postulate in your final par.

I am happy and content with my current job. But in the past this hasn't always been the case-I find when I'm disatisfied with a job, it's best (for me) to keep it and stop seething UNTIL I can switch.
I also find that the very act of deciding to switch somehow makes the unsatisfactory job a bit more bearable. Cheers, DavidM

Anonymous said...

i'm the disgruntled wife on this entry. the problem my husband has is that he has a job in an industry that is seriously being challenged by the current economic status. his problem is not working long hours necessarily, but working under a director who seems to feel threatened by his ideas, skills, and expression of opinion.

so it seems as the months go by his ideas get shoved aside and then reappear 3 months down the line as a 'new idea' by his director. he is not included in on important meetings but yet expected to do the work as no one else is capable within his team. it seems that he has come across this situation time and time again and it makes me question at what point can people become human and accept him as a hard working individual who is more than willing to work as a team...and stop being defensive and threatened by his ideas and contributions. it isn't like he could figure all of this out before he took the job (4 in the last year!).

now with the economy the way it is and the fact that we live in a foreign country, we find our choices are quite limited for the time being. no family, few friends, and no government support.

Alson Teo said...

Dear "wife",

Thank you for your understanding. I must say you do have a good imagination. :)

Kevin said...

Well said.

As Josef Stalin said "Death solves all problems. No MAN, no PROBLEM"

& as I always say: "if you a headache, don't take panadol, feed the whole box of it to the cause of your headache"

Anonymous said...

hi, you are not in sg?

anyway, i am too old to switch jobs, glad that i still have a job.

great post, btw. got me thinking.


Anonymous said...

Well for my case, I’m fine with my job. Although it’s hectic, I see it as a challenge and a chance to learn. The more I work, I know the more i gain as well... Probably I have this mentality because I just graduated and step into career life but I believe satisfaction and dislikes depends on how you perceive it.


Alson Teo said...

Well said David! :)

Alson Teo said...

Don't be naughty Kevin ... I think I am going to cancel my dinner appointment with you. ;p

Alson Teo said...

Hi brother dsnake,

Life is too sure to sacrifice your loved ones, friends, health, etc. for your job. :)

Alson Teo said...

Hi Princess,

I am glad to know that you fine with your job. Keep up the good work and but don't work too hard. :)