Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

How often is it that we are entirely consumed by what we do for a living and miss out the chance to enjoy life and the real meaning of what our work is? 

The article is not about people who found their calling and are doing what they love and enjoy and can make a living with it. Thumbs up and I hope I’ll be able to join you soon:)!

It is for people working full-time while trying to figure out their dreams. Just something that has been crystalising itself in my head for a few months and has finally taken its shape.

I have spoken with people around me lately, who seem to be willing to place their loyalty with the company they work for and actively participate in making the business work. They invest a lot of time and energy in their work, make great suggestions and propose smart solutions. And still, very often they are disappointed. They don’t feel appreciated or listened to, and they perceive the situation unfair. I have been there myself. 

So over the weekend, I thought about contractual obligations, about loyalty. I thought about what it means to own your choices and what makes us happy. 

Let’s assume Jane never misses the deadline, her mistake rate is close to zero, and she is always able to take some additional tasks. Mary is regularly late; she often makes mistakes and is always too busy for extra assignments, so Jane ends up with having all of them. And, being organized as she is, Jane also manages to regularly supply management with ideas on how to arrange work in a more efficient manner, for the benefit of everyone involved. 

After some time, Jane grows unhappy about the situation. She becomes angry about working more while being rewarded in the same way as the person who works less. Jane wants the situation to change. She wants her salary raise because she deserves it; she wants better working conditions. If the jobs Jane and Mary are doing are tightly bound, Jane might even wish that her employer fires Mary, because Jane does part of her job anyways. And at the end of the year salary raise is granted – for both Jane and Mary. So, Jane is also disappointed and does not feel appreciated now. She might even feel depressed and unmotivated or even decide to quit immediately without securing another job first.

Let’s also assume this is not some ideal situation where the employer welcomes innovation and has established a culture which appreciates individual contribution. Let’s imagine this situation more life-like, as too many companies are still relying on the old good vertical hierarchical management model. 

Some of us genuinely want to make the world a better place. And whenever we have an opportunity that seems to provide us with a chance to do it, we grab it and give our best to it. And while I support giving our best in every activity that we choose to do, I have realized that we have to pick these activities carefully.  

Companies bring profits to their shareholders. Every for-profit business out there is what it is called – for profit. Whatever services or products the company creates in the process – they are designed to bring financial benefits to the shareholders. If they solve some problems on the way – this is great. However, no entrepreneur or major shareholder would settle for free-of-charge provision of the services his business creates. Exceptions are non-profits, but this is another story.

So, whenever a company hires you, you conclude a contract, which requires you to provide certain services in exchange for a specific remuneration. You wouldn’t go and refurbish someone’s house and then expect them to pay you for it without being tasked to do so, first. And if someone hires you to renovate someone’s home, you would stick to the agreed colors, furniture and textures. You would not create an entirely new look because you thought it would suit the house owners better. Why do we keep doing this at our daily jobs? 

Considering the massive amount of time we spend at work, it is no surprise that we start to identify ourselves with our jobs in. We also take pride in what we are good at – we create an emotional bonding. 

These feelings lead to loyalty to the company where we are working. This, in turn, leads to us see the company as, kind of, a second home. So we want to make it better. 

What we forget is that there is an owner of that house. And how this owner sees the world does not necessarily equal our perspective. And it’s OK, a variety of opinions is essential, the world would be a very dull place if everyone would share the same view on every subject. 

I think it’s vital to recognize timely that what you do for a living is called that way because it is just an income stream. You need this income stream to be able to finance your life. With this income, you buy your food, pay your rent, maybe even auto leasing, buy your clothes, books, personal hygiene articles and a lot of other things. 

However, this income stream does not define who you are. Your life covers much more than just your work, even if right now you spend the majority of time working. Most probably,  you are searching for a solution or just merely wondering why it is happening to you.

I am learning to see my daily job as an income stream and the time I spend doing it as an experience and investment in learning. Even if I don’t learn something practical, I still learn how to deal with certain situations, how to be patient, how to plan appropriately. I learn how to make sure I keep pursuing my dream and don’t get lost in the routine of everyday tasks. So all in all, my job benefits me in two ways – financially and in educationally. 

And while doing so, I see how my perception is changing. It is me owning that I am here right now and that I do this to get somewhere else. 

And whenever in doubt, I ask myself – how can this situation help me towards where I want to be.