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The Myth of a Good Job

Let’s be honest. We all want the magic ticket, the inside scoop, the trick, the skill, the certain something that leads you to a ‘good’ job.

I’m not talking about dishonesty. I’m not talking about lying to get ahead or doing nothing and getting paid millions. I’m not talking about all the things that make a person go “Yeah….riiiight…”

Here’s the thing. There are no secrets because there are no ‘good’ jobs, well… at least not permanent ones.

This isn’t commentary on the recent economy or lamenting on how the nature of work has changed.

So… what is it? The job you have now can be a good job. The job you had last year may have been a good job. The job you’re starting day one on Monday might be a good job.

How is that possible?

A good job is a state of mind more so than the economic benefits or actual job elements. Let me say that again: a good job is largely in your head. Everything else like the type of work, number of perks, or size of the check are just aspects of the job.

You decide what ‘good’ is. You have influence on what ‘good’ is. Skeptical? How many jobs have you taken that started off as a ‘good job’ that you ended up hating six months or six years later? How many jobs have you had that reached a point where even an increase in pay couldn’t keep you there?

You’ve met people doing jobs that made you think “there is no way in hell…” and yet those people were perfectly happy. I also bet you’ve known people who made you wonder what was wrong with them for complaining about the amazing job they have.

The good job is a myth. You can out grow jobs or work environments as you grow and change as a person. Jobs you loved can change into a nightmare with a change in responsibilities, coworkers, or management, among other things. On the flip side, it is also possible for a job you were less than thrilled about to turn into something you actually enjoy.

How do we do this?

First, you have to believe this is true. Believe you have influence on your enjoyment and satisfaction with your job. This is a slightly different belief than you control your job. Many how-to books and lectures on job satisfaction seemed geared towards people with nearly complete autonomy in their daily work. As someone who has spent time behind counters and in retail, I understand what it is like to be very directly supervised with very limiting rules on time or conduct. This is different. This is about being positive and honest. (Hint: not mutually exclusive.) This is about giving yourself permission to change and accept that things have changed.

But enough with the fluffy feeling stuff… let’s talk about where the rubber meets the road.

How to stay in love… or at least in like, with your job:

1. Establish and maintain your boundaries.

This is vitally important. Many jobs are ruined because of people taking advantage of a person, making assumptions, and general overstepping of lines.

So… how does a person have boundaries and a boss at the same time?

Make decisions about what you will and will not do for your company or coworkers, as well as what is flexible, before you’re caught in the heat of the moment. Once you have those boundaries, decide what you will do when they are pushed. Will you push back? Will you confront your boss or coworker? Will you get over it? Will you quit?

Maintaining your boundaries doesn’t have to be a stay or quit situation in order to challenge or enhance your job situation.

It can be as simple as clarifying details and due dates for assignments instead of just working without knowing what is requested of you.

It can be saying no to a coworker or boss who continuously takes advantage of your good nature or generosity.

Having the uncomfortable conversation now is better than building resentment later.

2. Get involved. Corporate challenge and department picnics aside, getting involved means more than showing up.

Do you participate in meetings or discussions? Do you support new initiatives or learn more about what your company does? You don’t need to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid to take an interest in what goes on around you.

3. Establish a connection.

Take the time to get to know the people you work with. You don’t have to be their best friends, but how hard is it really to know a little something about the people you spend at least eight hours a day, five days a week with?

As an introvert, I know this can be challenging but it is worth it. Being civil, polite, and friendly goes a long way in making your time at work a little easier.

4. Have a life.

This may sound like a contradiction to what has just been said, but being a well-rounded person is good for you. If you have balance in your life, it is easier to keep a better perspective on what happens in your hours at work. Make friends outside of your work, do things that have no connection to your work. Live your life to please you, not to only build good bullet points on the resume.

In the end, work gets better when you communicate and connect with others. Clarifying boundaries, becoming an active participant in all areas of your life, and getting in touch with those around you service to increase your happiness.

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