I’m going to say something that might sound a bit radical, but here it goes… Work is not always fun and I think we could all find a little more joy in our current jobs and lives if we recognized this fact and moved on from it.
Work is Not Fun
As a child I remember listening to my dad complain about his work. There were a laundry list of complaints. I don’t remember them all, but I do remember a few that came up time and time again.
The top two grievances: 1) My dad didn’t think his coworkers pulled their weight. 2) He didn’t think he earned as much as he deserved.
Despite these feelings my dad drove to work every week day that wasn’t a national holiday. He drove in rain, snow, sleet and hail and rarely called in sick. Above all he put in his best effort and every year, when his review rolled around, he sat down with his boss and discussed the options for raises, promotions and bonuses.
My dad never said, “I just want to find a job I love” or “I don’t want to work in a job that doesn’t thrill me.” He simply woke up, drove to work, performed his duties to the best of his abilities, brought his work home with him, and repeated this same series of steps every day for over thirty years.
My dad didn’t always complain about work. He also talked about the good parts of his position. Growing up I understood that work was not always fun, (sometimes it downright sucks), but if you put in a lot of hard work and effort you can succeed. I learned that coworkers were extremely important to the success or failure of a project and that the personalities of those around us can make an unsatisfying work environment much more enjoyable. In fact, sometimes an amazing team makes up for a completely awful project.
Is Work Supposed to be Fun?
When I graduated from college I followed in my dad’s footsteps. I certainly didn’t love everything about my job but I worked hard to learn new technologies and put in many hours above and beyond what was expected of me. I too was rewarded with raises, bonuses and promotions.
I recently read a blog post encouraging parents not to complain about work in front of their kids. I’m afraid I don’t agree. I think it’s important to talk to your kids about the good and bad aspects of jobs and at times that means letting them overhear your conversations and complaints.
Of course you shouldn’t just complain about work. You should also talk to your kids about how to make unpleasant aspects of your work better, what you enjoy about your position as well as how to handle tasks you aren’t fond of.
I want my children to know that work is not a bed of roses and that they shouldn’t think they will go to work every day loving what they do. With the good comes the bad and it’s important to figure out how to make the bad parts better rather than believing that the ideal job doesn’t have any bad parts at all.
I don’t think we should propagate fairy tales about loving our jobs. For example, you can become an artist and create incredibly beautiful sculptures, but still not love selling your pieces or marketing your art shows. You can run your own company, but not love searching for employees, running payroll and investigating the best health insurance policies.
The Internet provides today’s work force with the ability to step out of a 9-to-5 job. I hear many people say I want to become a writer or blogger. It sounds dreamy, right? But search around the Internet and you’ll find those same folks writing 2000 words about the best toilets on the market or the best ways to remove lipstick from clothing. Is this really the dream job they’ve always wished for? Do these folks have a passion for toilets and lipstick removers?
Work is Not Supposed to be Fun
I suppose I’m showing my age, (I’m in my fourth decade of life), but I don’t think we should all feel the need to run away from work or hide the fact that it might not be enjoyable for the entire eight hours that we sit at our desks or reside inside tiny cubicles.
While I agree that you shouldn’t toil away your entire existence in a job that makes you absolutely miserable I also think you shouldn’t keep putting in minimal efforts while pining for the perfect job that most likely doesn’t exist.
In fact, I sometimes wonder if saying “I’m not willing to sacrifice my time for a job I don’t love” is an excuse. It’s easy to say I don’t really have to work hard in this job because it’s not my passion or I’m not good at this job because my heart just isn’t in it.
It’s easy to say “I want to find meaningful work” and then find every excuse to hate your job and make little to no effort to improve your current position.
Look I’m not saying you can’t find meaningful work. Rather I’m saying now is the time to be the best at whatever it is that you do. If you have a traditional job that you don’t love you should still give it 110%. You should look at ways to make your work better and more enjoyable.
No Fun at Work
If that simply isn’t possible then start a serious search for work that you will enjoy. If you want to find meaningful work then do it. If you want to work for a non-profit that saves the world then learn to live on less money so you can pursue your passions.
Either grab life by the horns and take a stab at your dream job or make the most of the job you currently hold. But don’t allow yourself to be disgruntled and angry while you pine away for a dream job that might not exist.
I won’t provide my children with fairy tale stories about work, but I won’t tell them to run away from the traditional workforce either. There are many valuable lessons learned from toiling away at a job you don’t love and many well paying benefits too.
I want my children to know that work isn’t always fun, but they are in charge of their mental mindset. They can view their employment through a negative lens or learn to work through the bad parts of their jobs while still valuing their less-than-perfect positions.
6 thoughts on “Work is Not Fun: Is Work Supposed to be Enjoyable?”
I think that’s the way most people feel. I had a long career and enjoyed most of it as my favorite hobby. I mostly felt overpaid and generally would have done the job for free and would have kept working even if I had won the lottery. I didn’t know many people who felt the way I did though, and it wasn’t fun all day, every day. But it was usually a pleasure. Only the last two years of my thirty plus year career were not much fun so I retired slightly early and now my side gigs are quite fun the one day a week that I work. I do feel people should strive to find a job they can excel at because mastery brings both better pay and better satisfaction.
I love this sentiment: “I do feel people should strive to find a job they can excel at because mastery brings both better pay and better satisfaction.” Yes, yes, yes! I agree completely. In order to find a job you enjoy it certainly helps to find work where you can excel. I enjoyed writing software because with each application I wrote my skills improved and my code became better structured. Each time I wrote code I became better equipped to handle more complex problems, which were satisfying to solve. Those in turn led to better pay. Thank you for such an insightful comment. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed your job for many years and that you were able to leave when your feelings about it changed.
A thoughtful, honest, insightful perspective on work. I mean really good. I just added a link to it in my next newsletter. Thank you
Thanks Ted. I’m glad you enjoyed it!
I agree. I have worked for the same employer for 26 years. Was every day fun? No. Did I hate every day? No. I don’t enjoy every part of my job but I enjoy enough to continue turning up every day. The bits I don’t enjoy – I learn new skills to cope with them. That has taught me resilience plus the steady stable income gives me a good start to pursuing FI.
I think there is a lot to be said for going to work everyday and for learning to push through the tough parts. It’s great to work from home in your pajamas but there are so many valuable skills learned from physically interacting with others on a day to day basis. I think the internet steals this opportunity from us. Thank you for your comment and for recognizing the value and stability your job provides.