“Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water” – Zen Proverb
It’s Monday. Are you loving it, living it or lamenting it?
If you’re a complainer or a blamer you will not be able to finish this article. In fact, the title of the article might have already irritated you enough to move to the next website. However, if you are a person who is not able to understand why you are not happy in your work, this could serve as a good food for thought.
Every person in this world belongs to one of the following three categories — employees, entrepreneurs or without work. Retired people are done with their productive work-life, while children and students are preparing for their work-life to start. Even if you are an artist, performer, musician, sportsperson, you are either working for yourself or you join an organisation that helps you sell your art or skill.
I have been an employer, employee and self-employed professional, and always try to make the most of my professional life. As an author, I have written few books on the subject like entrepreneurship, work-happiness, employee-engagement and creating winning workplaces. While researching for these books, it was shocking to see that even after spending years in a job or an industry so many people seem dissatisfied with their work. You do not get to see many smiling faces when people are driving to their workplace. Mondays have become the most hated day of the corporate calendar while, Friday is celebrated like a festival.
Is happiness at work a myth?
You may not always be happy at work, but at least make sure you’re not miserable. I think it is very much possible to be happy at work provided you keep learning, practise acceptance and compassion. Dissatisfaction is good as long as it urges you to be creative to explore the next challenge, but it is a very poisonous emotion if you do not channelise it. If not harnessed properly it manifests itself in your daily life as mood swings, erratic bouts of anger, unhappiness and even illness.
You will spend 10 hours of your day, five days a week, four weeks a month, 12 months a year, 10 years a decade and four-five decades of your life working. This is no small time and if you do the calculation your work-time will occupy over 50-60 per cent of your total lifetime. I might be guilty of generalising a bit, but I feel many professionals act like over-aged juveniles who never took responsibility of their life.
1. Grow up and view your life as a choice you made: You might envy the owner of your business for the money he or she makes but you have no idea of what went into the making of that business. You too have the choice to work for yourself or for others but practise the choice wisely and take responsibility of the outcome. Learn to appreciate the fact that your employer gives you salary irrespective of profits or loses the business makes. It does not matter whether you are employer or an employee, just learn to love your work. Everyday you go to work, you have a choice to give your best or just do enough to survive. I suggest you to give your best because this will make you valuable in the marketplace.
2. Decide your profession first before you chase a package: When I wrote ‘Love your Mondays and Retire Young’, I was asked by many readers if I am proposing that everyone should be an entrepreneur. I think the most important thing is to love your work. You can pursue the work as an entrepreneur or as an employee. What is the industry in which you will like to work for 10, 20, 30 years of your life? What would you like to be known for at the end of your work-life? Do not feel stuck in one job or industry, develop the skills that will make you ride the uncertain waves of future economy. People who only know one thing, feel stuck in their lives.
3. Work for the right company with best people: Once you have decided the industry you want to be in, always try to work for the top companies in that industry. Choose a company where you love to spend 8-10 hours every day. Make great relationships at work so that you can collaborate and produce great results. Some people never learn what it takes to be a team player, a good manager, and a good coach. Likewise it is equally important to be a good mentee. There is a reason why your boss is your boss. They may not be the smartest but they must be smart enough to survive in the industry. The worst thing that you can do is to join the cribbing club. If work is worship, then do not curse the God daily. Always surround yourself with people who are talking about work rather than blaming their supervisors.
4. Never stop learning: I have observed that most of the people who hate their jobs are fearful people. They suffer from performance anxiety and are not sure of their skills. They think success in a job is a matter of luck. I think success in any profession is a matter of hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills related to what works in your industry and soft skills related to how to use your hard skills in a client or a team environment. Always spend half an hour every day in learning new things about your industry. The more you know, smarter you become, the smarter you become more success you get, and the more success you get more you love your job. What does it take to become an expert in your industry? Experts always get paid more while the mediocre people have to fight for a raise.
5. Do not get trapped in debt: They say if you do not like your boss get married. And, if you still do not love your job then take a home loan. Do not spend more on the things you do not need to impress the people you do not like. Invest in the skills that can make you more successful professional in your industry. If needed attend some weekend courses go for higher education. Some people are never able to go for higher education because they have a car or a home loan to service. If you think you are in the wrong profession or company, work your way out smartly.
You might be an employee or an entrepreneur but never be a slave. One form of slavery that often goes unnoticed is letting others decide how you feel. You are the manufacturer of your own happiness or unhappiness. Learn to love people and give your best to whatever work you do. If you are unhappy in every job you take then there is no point in changing your current job. Fix yourself first before you fix your boss or colleagues. Everybody in this world is trying to survive, be the one who lives happily and loves people.