IT’S 6.40a.m. and you’re snuggled cosily in bed enjoying the last few moments before the alarm squeals harshly in your ear. What are you thinking? Can’t wait to get up for work? Looking forward to your 9 o’clock start? And when the alarm goes off, do you leap out of bed full of anticipation and excitement about the challenges of the day facing you? Or do you hit the snooze button with more aggression than is perhaps necessary and shove your head under the pillow for an extra 10 minutes?
I’m asking if you love your job? Or hate it? You see I don’t have much patience for people who moan about their job, whine about the long hours or short deadlines, whinge about the lack of career opportunities, or complain about the people with whom they work. Life is about choices, and you can chose to do a job you love or stick with a job you hate, it’s entirely up to you.
Finding meaningful work, rewarding work, a job that consumes and fills you with passion should be your life’s goal. Why put yourself through torture for a job? It affects your life, love and happiness. No wonder there is so much stress in the work place.
We’re just not programmed to enjoy work in this country. Workaholics are castigated for neglecting their families and the government makes it easy for lazy layabouts to avoid work for years, entire lifetimes in some cases.
If you love your work then why shouldn’t you put in 100+ hours a week? Work isn’t about presenteeism, about sitting at a desk or digging a hole from 9-5. It’s about what you do when you are there and if you want to be there from 8am to 8pm because you love it, I believe there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
If, however, you are there 12 hours a day to impress the boss or worse still, scupper your colleagues, then you are a saddo who doesn’t deserve to have a great job and needs to get a life.
So if you don’t love it, don’t do it. Find something you do love. I stopped loving my consultancy work – if you know me, you’ll know I call a spade a f*****g shovel, and I find pussy-footing around temperamental clients too tedious for words – so in August, at the end of this current financial year, I will stop doing it and start doing the job I truly love. Writing.
I have an entrepreneurial friend who also shares my opinion about the spade/shovel thing. I fell into the trap of whining about my clients and how much I hated what I was doing and she just laughed at me. Then she asked me to consider my situation in a slightly different way. She asked me to think about jumping aboard the local bus and being slapped in the face by the driver every time I paid for my ticket. She then asked what I would do. Aside from slapping him back, I said, I just wouldn’t get back on the bus.
So that was it. I made my mind up to stop being slapped in the face by my clients every day and to focus instead on doing something I feel passionate about.
An employer can make the work place fun, create the right atmosphere, but there’s nothing they can do to make employees enjoy working there or love their job.
I read a cracking article in Management Today by journalist Richard Reeves who diagnoses “whingitis” as the tendency to moan consistently in the face of the most wonderful developments. He likens our reticent approach to work opportunities to an adolescent schoolgirl meeting a naked Robbie Williams in a candlelit boudoir and complaining that the thermostat is a bit high. He’s absolutely right.
I haven’t met a successful entrepreneur yet who hasn’t grasped the opportunity and who doesn’t love his or her job with a genuine passion and enthusiasm. As I said before, it’s about choice: do you want to be a happy, successful entrepreneur? Or a bitter, twisted employee waiting for the job opportunity you love to land in your lap?
PS This post is from a column 10 years ago today – and I’m not giving up my clients, I promise.