Thursday, February 8, 2007

One of Those Days.....

Work is a four-letter word for a reason.

I talked to someone yesterday who very candidly told me that he worked because he could make money doing it. He doesn't really like his job, although he doesn't hate it. What he most enjoys about it is that his kids work with him in his business, so he gets to see them every day and watch them grow and develop in their skills and business sense.

In a way, that was the most refreshing conversation I've had with anyone in decades.

Why is it that there is such pressure to demonstrate that one's chosen career is enjoyable? Is it because of the sacrifices a career demands and we want to justify our choices? Or is it because most of us aren't wealthy enough to tell the truth when we're asked the question, "do you like what you do?"

Why do I do what I do? Do I like my job? Does it really matter if I do?

I suppose I do this job because it's the one in which I can make the most money just by doing what I have been trained to do. Most days, I'm OK with my job. On some days, I really love it; on others, I barely tolerate it. I don't suppose it matters to anyone but me if I like my job - sure, it probably makes life at work more tolerable for those with whom I work if I like my job. Nobody likes to work around a grouch.

There are other things I could do, and do very well, but I don't do them. Instead, I work day after day at a job that, while it offers some good things, nevertheless sucks the life out of me a little bit at a time. I come home at the end of the day drained - I get up later than I should because I really don't want to go to work, and then I don't sleep well because of the accumulated stress.

My weekends are MY time - they're the only time I can sleep late, relax with my dog, do errands and chores and generally re-charge my batteries, but I have a certain amount of face-time to commit to the office to make my billable hour quota and to demonstrate the level of commitment I have to the firm and its goals.

The thing is, I feel trapped. Trapped by the need for the income stream the job provides to pay existing obligations and to plan for the future, trapped by the mantle of accomplishment and "success" a law degree and a good job convey. Yes, I could just walk away - I could walk away, sell my condo (although probably not that successfully in this market), get a job that pays less, move into something smaller (renting, probably, rather than buying), and "trade down", but that is only noble in the movies.

Reality still intrudes.

What really makes all of this effort worthwhile?

The one who dies with the most toys still dies. How do you make time to enjoy life when the treadmill keeps increasing in speed and difficulty? I've tried jumping off periodically, but I don't have the energy to catch up that I used to have, and it seems a more efficient use of my energy to try to stay on the same treadmill instead of jumping from one to another.

Plus, the older I get, the less likely it is that I will find one I like - there are so many people out there looking. Younger, with more energy and more sense of who they are and what they want than I ever had. And the thing is, they get it! When I was growing up, I learned that you paid your dues by succeeding at stuff that nobody else wanted to do, and then you got rewarded with better assignments and more money.

Nowadays, kids - KIDS!! - look at you and say, "I'm not doing that" and they go someplace else where they get to do what they want for more money. They get rewarded for being selective instead of doing the work. What happened to paying dues?


I started this with the heading "one of those days." That's just what it is, and it will pass.

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