We’ve all had moments where we focus on the negative aspects of our jobs. I remember complaining to my dad about some of the menial tasks that I had to do in my first job out of college. “It just wasn’t rewarding work,” I told him. How millennial of me. He told me that more than likely a job is about 70% grunt work (aka, the things you don’t like to do) and 30% enjoyable work (aka, the things you like to do). That outlook seemed pretty bleak to me at the time, and maybe his perspective was a reflection of his generation. But now that I’m a bit older, the general message he was trying to tell me was that no job is perfect. There will always be aspects of any job that you don’t like, but it’s more about what your willing to tolerate to also get the good stuff. You may love the content of your work, but you have a terrible boss. Or your commute is terrible, but you have incredible colleagues.
The Grass ISN'T Always Greener
When the going gets tough and you focus on the negative, our first instinct is to leave. It’s the “fight or flight” response. I was in a job once that was pretty good, not great. I had good people around me, I had earned the respect of my colleagues and clients, and the work was interesting, most of the time. There were a couple of occasions though that made me wonder if this was the right place for me. I was contacted by a recruiter of a large company who asked me to interview. I decided to go through with the process to see what else was out there. It was a terrible experience. I realized through the interview process that this was not the place for me and where I currently worked was actually a great fit. You know the saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side?” Not always. But sometimes you may have to dip your toes on the other side to check though.
In the Grand Scheme of Things...
I got a call the same night of the interview. They told me I didn’t get the job, but the interviewers said I would be a good fit for other positions and should apply. It was the first time in my professional experience that I was not disappointed with the rejection. In fact, I told the woman (in a polite way) I wasn’t interested in working for the company, and that I’m happy with my current employer. It just wasn’t a good fit, and that's OK. The experience was worth it to me to realize how good I had it. I went into my job the next day with a smile on my face and an eagerness to reaffirm my commitment to the company, warts and all.
It's About What's Most Important to You
When we conduct our research for our clients, we often ask employees to rank a list of criteria of what’s most important to them when it comes to a job. There are over 30 criteria. No company on this earth does each of these things well (or at least I am not aware of one)! The point of the exercise is to force people to choose. For example, compensation may be important but some people are willing to get paid less for better work/life balance. It’s more about understanding what’s MOST important to you, and focusing on those things when searching for a job or deciding if you want to stay.
So Give Thanks!
Next time you question your job, think about what’s most important to you, instead of focusing on what’s not working. You may be surprised to find that the company meets your “work version” of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, that’s something to be thankful for!