Posts tagged with: work life balance

Can you not care about your work and still do a good job?

Some of the stories that I write for trade magazine publishers and online content sites are dull as can be. I’m writing today, for instance, about the latest HVAC technology. Yesterday, I wrote about organic lawn care. I also had to come up with a list of 20 reasons why being a blogger is a good thing.

Coming up with 20 reasons was tough. I even resorted to this one: “By blogging, you can influence the members of your community to act. Perhaps you can make a difference.” Yes, all three of the regular visitors to your blog can help overthrow the corrupt government in Zimbabwe.

It all made me wonder: Is it possible to do a good job in your work if you really don’t care about it?

I suppose it has to be possible, right? It’s hard for me to believe that my father really felt passionate about the work he did for a typesetting company for more than two decades. Yet, I’m sure he did a good job, even if he didn’t spare it a single thought after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m.

Sometimes we get too wrapped up in our work. We define ourselves by what we do for a living. When really, we should define ourselves by how we live our lives, right?

What’s more important, job security or passion?

I found an interesting discussion on the Wall Street Journal’s Web site today. This question-and-answer session addressed whether, especially in these trying economic times, it’s better to pursue a career that offers job security even if the field isn’t one that you particularly enjoy.

It’s a good question. I suppose in a normal economy, we’d tell people to earn their living doing something that they feel passionate about, or that they at least find not too terminally dull.

But these aren’t normal times, are they?

Today, I’d be apt to tell someone to go for the job security. That especialy holds true if you have a family that’s depending on you to support them, or if you have housing payments to make.

Now, just because you’re working a job that you don’t feel passionate about doesn’t make you a failure. For one thing, you can pursue your passion when you’re not working. Secondly, a job doesn’t define who we are. Work is important, yes, but it’s not your whole life. It’s OK to do something solely to pay the bills.

Look at your parents. The odds are high that they worked a job for one reason: to pay the bills. They didn’t expect emotional satisfaction from their work.

In the best case, of course, a job would both pay the bills and fulfill us. In today’s economy, that’s not always possible.

If you lost your job, who would you be?

I’ve long preached — or nagged — that people should craft busy, active lives outside the workforce. Too many people tie their entire self worth to their job. They care about their careers and little else.

Well, that attitude can be dangerous in the best of times. When even the hardest working, most talented people can lose their jobs at any moment, connecting your sense of self completely to your career is a sure path to low self esteem.

The Wall Street Journal wrote a good story about this. It starts with a look at a former investigative reporter who recently was forced to take a buyout from the Kansas City Star newspaper. For 30 years, this man worked as a reporter. It was how he identified himself.

When he didn’t have that job, he had no idea what he was.

That’s the danger we all risk when we let work take over our lives. Think about it: Do you think of yourself as an accountant, a writer, a CEO? Or do you think of yourself as a great wife, a loving husband, a terrific father or a supportive friend? Maybe it’s time we all began to think of ourselves as those latter choices.

Is it a crime to not really like to work?

I have a relative who loves working. Sure, she complains for as long as you’ll listen about her bosses, her long hours, all the business trips she has to take, etc.., But you can tell, even with all these complaints, that she really, truly loves working.

I, on the other hand, would be quite happy if I never had to work another day in my life. I’d love to read more books, watch more movies, hang out more with my wife and kids … all the good stuff in life.

For a while, it seemed that having a wonderful, brilliant career was the most important thing in a growing number of people’s lives. I constantly ran into people like my relative, people who care more about more their work than they did anything else in their lives. Their careers were who they were.

I wonder if this is changed for many people? After all, companies are firing dedicated, hard-working employees every day in this awful economy. It shows that even the best workers should expect zero loyalty from their employers. It also shows that it’s a bit of a waste to care so much about a career that can ripped away whenever the economy goes sour.