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Hate Your Job? It Could Be Worse…

April 19, 2011 · 41 comments

in Work

Do you ever have days where you hate your job?  Do you take your job for granted?   Do you wish you were in a different profession and dread going to work each day?

I know I have felt that way in the past, especially because my ‘career’ was not in a profession I enjoyed.  Not to mention, there was a lot of nights I was on call (computer programming, not saving lives…) and deadlines always seemed unrealistic.   Regardless, programming/project management is the only job I have ever known, besides being a mom.

A Change In Perspective

Even though I was less than thrilled with my job, I got a big dose of perspective one day when our home was being remodeled.  One afternoon, I ran an errand and came home to find someone pounding loose nails back into the floor, one after the other.  As I walked by, I commented on how pounding nails must feel a little monotonous.  His response surprised me, he said “I don’t mind at all.  At least it is a paycheck, and that is all that matters”.  I have to say, I felt about 6 inches tall at that moment.

Later on in the remodeling project, I bought the whole crew pizza and pop.  I sat and ate with all the workers and they all said that not one homeowner had ever provided a meal for them like that.  They also said that most homeowners won’t even talk to them.  That made me feel awful for them, to think that because they did manual labor they weren’t worth talking to?

After lunch, the electrician made a comment that really hit me.  He said that he was so happy that he got assigned to work on my house because now he would be able to provide his family with a decent meal.  That broke my heart.  Here was a man that was more than willing to work, and the economy took away his employment opportunities.  All this guy wanted to do was provide for his family.  He didn’t care about a fancy car or a summer home.  He just wanted food.

Did This New Perspective Stick?

This remodeling project took place in 2009, but I still think back to what these men said frequently.  I am still a computer programmer, but little things at work don’t bother me anymore.  I appreciate my paycheck and the fact that I have a job that allows me to work part time and from home.  I attend all my kids events and school holidays are never a problem.  My job is still the same, but my attitude isn’t. Other life events contributed to my new attitude also, but the circumstances of these contractors are a big part of why I appreciate the job I have.

So, next time you want to throw your computer out the window or kick your customer in the shins, picture yourself pounding random nails into the floor all day or being ignored completely by your employer.  It might just make getting up for work a little bit easier…

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Centavos April 19, 2011 at 6:01 am

Probably one of my favorite utterances during the day, “it could be worse”. And it really could. I could have a miserable, demanding boss (been there), could be working in the hot sun instead of a nice air-conditioned office (done that). People that whine and bitch about the company drive me nuts, and I generally stay away from them. Then again, maybe they stay away from me, after I cut a moaning session short with something along the lines “if you don’t like (whatever), then do something about it”. Good perspective Kris. Work is ennobling and has dignity, whatever you’re doing.

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Kris April 19, 2011 at 9:47 am

101- I totally agree. I have so much less tolerance for people that constantly whine about their job and try to bring you down along with them. There was a time at my job where people were leaving in droves, and constantly tried to get you to go too. I don’t know why others want you to second guess your own situation, unless it helps them justify their own action. Regardless, I am with you, I would avoid them at all costs.

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Nicole April 19, 2011 at 8:17 am

Flexibility is a huge job perk (and fits with your values!)

Contractors are doing pretty well in our state/town. There’s lots of building going on and we never really had a housing crisis. It’s really teachers and other state employees who are suffering.

One of the things we like about this town (as compared to Boston) is that the people who come by and work on our house are more than happy to explain to us what they’re doing and give us tips for how we can prevent expensive repairs and take care of things in the future. Everybody is very professional and takes pride in their work, no matter what their work is. It’s really awesome.

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Nicole April 19, 2011 at 8:20 am

Oh– and I didn’t miss the point of the post, honest!

Every day I think about the things I like about my job. I am grateful and lucky for it. The game I play is, “What would I rather do?” If I can figure that out, then I will take steps to do that. If I can’t, then I will keep taking pride in my current work. So far things I would rather do don’t pay the money I would like to make. (And things that make more money don’t have the hours I would like.) 🙂

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Kris April 19, 2011 at 9:45 am

Nicole- The “make decent money” part of the “doing what you enjoy” idea is absolutely key. As we have discussed previously, I would love to own a little coffeeshop/bookstore. However, that is not realistic. It would be foolish for me to sit and dwell on a dream that doesn’t make sense at this point in time. Life is all about tradeoffs, and the flexibility my job provides (and money) is what is important now. That may change as the kids get older, and I will adjust accordingly.

You seem to be in a perfect position for you, I can’t see you waking up anytime soon thinking “I gotta do something else”.

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First Gen American April 19, 2011 at 8:41 am

Wow. I never realized contractors get so looked down upon.

I often realize how good I have it. Being in sales, although hectic, has a lot of flexibility too. The longer I do this kind of job, the harder it is to think about going into an office every day.

I also think it’s cool to learn about new products all the time. That part’s fun. The trick really is to figure out how to not let the stress get to you. The really good leaders I’ve seen seem to not have a bad day phase them at all. It’s a skill for sure.

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Kris April 19, 2011 at 9:42 am

First Gen, I didn’t realize that contractors were treated so poorly either until I had the opportunity to chat with them. Maybe people are just mean where I live, I don’t know, but I heard the same story from many different people.

Your job sounds quite fun actually. Doing new things is key (in my opinion) to enjoying your job. Doing the same thing over and over can get quite monotonous, although I do think some people thrive in that environment.

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Denise @ The Single Saver April 19, 2011 at 9:28 am

Thank you for this. I’ve been in a rut lately, myself. I think I need to print off your blog for today and post it by my desk to remind me of what is important.

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Kris April 19, 2011 at 9:38 am

Denise- I am glad this post struck a chord. I know sometimes it is very easy to be caught in that rut with your job. However, it is the rare job that does not have its negatives, and sometimes, it is very easy to focus on those negatives instead of the positives that come from being employed.

I hope things improve at your job!

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md. Khalaq April 19, 2011 at 9:49 am

Thank you for this. I’ve been in a rut lately, in my opinion. I believe I require printing off your blog for today and posting it by my desk to jog memory me of what is significant.

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Jeff @ Sustainable life blog April 19, 2011 at 10:44 am

Great article kris – I often feel that people focus so much on things they *dont* have rather than focusing on what they do. They have never really known what it’s like to live without the basics and often forget that there are people who do go without them.
As for treating contractors poorly, I can kind of see why – many people just feel like the contractors are there to do a job and dont want to be bothered, so they just leave them be. They are people too though, and I think we all should remember that.

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Kris April 19, 2011 at 10:54 am

Jeff, I was shocked by some of the stories these contractors told me. Some people wouldn’t even acknowledge their existence. It seemed like they were shocked that someone would actually engage in conversation with them or offer them something to drink. It was sad to me.

I guess life is all about perspective. Sometimes it is easier to look at the good things than the bad I guess. However, I think everyone would be happier if they took your advice and looked at what they do have as opposed to what they were missing. (Although some are truly destitute, and they are allowed to be bummed out!)

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The Biz of Life April 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I have generally enjoyed the work aspect of most of my jobs programming and in project management and directing the efforts of teams. The thing I always found the most difficult to deal with were politics, and intentionally difficult people trying to throw up roadblocks to progress.

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Kris April 19, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Politics are the worst. When I was younger, I used to get wrapped up in politics and worry about everything that was being said. Now, I don’t even listen to whatever the ‘latest’ rumor is and just take things as they come.

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Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager April 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Thanks for the reminder of how lucky I am for my job, paycheck and ability to connect with others via blogs.

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Kris April 19, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Jenna, it isn’t luck- you created your own profession! (Thanks though)

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Linda April 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I’ve been going through a lot of angst about my job the past two to three years, but I recognize that I’ve got a good situation. I work for a great company with great people and I have top level benefits and pay.

Frankly the idea of pounding nails for hours a day isn’t that awful to me. I like doing things with my hands; pulling weeds is fun to me. Unfortunately it doesn’t pay very well, though.

I never look down on people on who do manual labor. There’s dignity it working and doing a job well no matter what it is: pounding nails, washing floors, flipping burgers, or writing code. If I’m around when labor is being done at my house I offer coffee or water (I rarely have anything else in the house). I can’t say I’ve ever bought a pizza, though. That was super nice!

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Kris April 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Linda, I like pulling weeds too! However, on my knees on a hard floor pounding nails sounds killer on my back!

You are right, there is dignity in all kinds of work. The only thing lacking dignity is laziness.

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Niki April 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I know it’s easy for me to say something off handedly or jokingly about what is bothering me, at work or in life, and not realize how easily it affects my attitude and even the attitude of others around me. Taking the time to appreciate a job or health or whatever does help me change my attitude. (Even though I haven’t worked in a while it still applies)
I thought you were supposed to feed anyone who works on your home, paid or not. Maybe that is just my upbringing. The contractors in our home were probably sick of talking to me by the time they left. 🙂

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Kris April 19, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Niki- I agree, the contractors should be fed and well-watered!

I was just talking to someone about how negativity can feed on itself. Even when you get negative about something you enjoy, you can find that you don’t enjoy it so much anymore after complaining about it enough.

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Jeff April 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Really touching story. Also, that’s extremely nice of you to open up and buy food for them.

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Kris April 19, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Jeff, thanks for the kind words. However, it was really no big deal to feed the guys. They did a really good job, and I appreciated that they respected my home. In retrospect, I should have had a pizza party when the work started!

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Kaycee April 19, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Call me the odd one, but, I like my job much better when my boss ignores me.

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Kris April 19, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I don’t find that odd at all. I love having the freedom to just do what I need to do without anyone breathing down my neck. However, I do want access to my boss if something does come up!

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retirebyforty April 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I probably need a reminder once in a while that I have a good job. 🙂
I do appreciate it, but I know it’s time to move on soon.

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Kris April 19, 2011 at 10:06 pm

RB40- It is good to know when to move on, and change can be really good when there are other options. For those without options, appreciating the paycheck received is a better choice than being angry and making others frustrated too.

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TUJ April 19, 2011 at 10:22 pm

I actually work at the corporate office of an insulation installing company. Our installers help make the money that supports my job! It’s important to remember what’s behind the product/service that you support.

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Kris April 20, 2011 at 11:32 pm

You are completely right TUJ. People need to realize that nobody on this earth is inherently born better or worse than anyone else and therefore, people should not be looked down on.

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Edwin @ Cash The Checks April 22, 2011 at 5:20 am

It’s always good to put yourself in the shoes of someone else who is less fortunate than you to truly appreciate what you have.

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Kris April 24, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Edwin- it is very true, empathy can go a long way!

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Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer April 23, 2011 at 9:31 am

Wow, Kris. You totally took the joy out of whining about those times I’m bored —- just kidding. Thanks for pointing out another perspective.

Gratitude goes a long way in overall happiness.

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Kris April 24, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Kay Lynn, whining is still very acceptable! It is when people get caught in a vicious cycle and brings others down with them that it is a real problem!

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Financial Samurai April 23, 2011 at 11:33 am

Great perspective! It is a blessing if we have found something we appreciate and love to do.

Every morning on the bus ride to work, I say a little thanks for having a job to go to and earn a living from. I thank that I have a brain and my fingers to work on Yakezie afterwards. I thank that my body is still healthy to play tennis.

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Kris April 24, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Sam, that is great you can take the bus in to work. Sometimes having that little bit of down time can really make you think and appreciate things in life that you don’t otherwise have a chance to really evaluate. Great use of time!

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Ken @ Spruce Up Your Finances April 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm

It is really just how you want to take a look at things “half empty or half full.” I think most of us would hate our job in some degree but a lot of unemployed individuals would be willing to trade places with us.

So it is really how we want to make the most of it or how we try to take action such as finding a new job, starting a business, etc.

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Kris April 24, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Ken, you are very right, although some people wouldn’t view it as a choice. Once people get caught in that negative cycle, it can be hard to leap out. I can tell you my entire life is much better since I stopped letting work bother me. It is a job and it pays some bills. It is my family and friends that matter most.

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Khaleef @ KNS Financial April 30, 2011 at 11:01 am

Hey Kris, the next time you decide to write a post specifically about me, can you at least send me an email first? lol

This definitely hits home. My job is currently driving me crazy and I am looking for something else. I spend each morning praying about the situation and trying to have the proper perspective, so that I can remain content. Your words just provided another reminder of that.

Thanks!

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Kris May 2, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Great response Khaleef! It is great that you are looking for another job if you are unhappy in your current one. I am glad you are taking action. Best of luck, and please keep up posted!

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