Why We Work

Over the past year, I’ve been working five days a week in an office processing papers and answering phones. Not exactly a huge fan of it.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t love their job. Practically every day I hear my colleagues count down the hours to home time.

Gothic heritage office building. Manchester Unity Building | Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art.

Gothic heritage office building. Manchester Unity Building | Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art.

Yet I’m not giving up working full time anytime soon. I can’t.

We work most days of the week to financially support ourselves. Things don’t come free. Sometimes working most days of the week is the only way we can afford to buy food and pay the bills.

In the year after I finished university, I worked as a casual academic research assistant, interviewing people for health studies. This job was fun but it had erratic hours. There were weeks where I had no work which meant no pay and a single sushi roll for lunch. Eventually, I had to get a steady job to make ends meet.

Sometimes we work in a job we don’t like as it’s the only one we can find. Landing a job is more challenging and time consuming than we think. For over a year while working casually, I sent out my resume and rang employers almost every day before landing my next job. A full time one.

We work for love. A noble thing to do. With kids and a family to take care of, someone needs to be the breadwinner of the household. As I spent free time outside of my casual job writing, my Malaysian mum nagged at me to find a job and act like a filial Asian offspring whom their traditional parents can be proud of. Which I eventually did because my parents aren’t getting any younger and won’t be working forever.

Some of us don’t mind taking on any job – a boring job is better than sitting at home. We work for our self-esteem. We work to feel useful and wanted. To learn new skills.

Not all of us hate our jobs. As the saying goes, “If you love what you do, you don’t have to work a day in your life”. True, some of us are lucky enough to make a living out of what we’re passionate about, say music, painting or dance, but we’ve probably earned it one way or another, with a bit of luck on our side.

Whether we like or hate work, at some point we’ll wonder what exactly are we getting out of our jobs – and what we’re doing with our lives, what’s important to us and what really makes us happy. One year ago when I started my job, I thought would be content making a living out of sorting papers into batches and yapping on the phone. Today I can’t disagree with this more.

There’s a silver lining to every cloud. Not having to crank out a seemingly endless stream of job applications day and night is a perk of having a job, freeing up a lot of time which I spend writing. It’s nice to write without worrying if I can have another meal when I’m hungry. Nice not to hear my mum nagging at me to find a job and earning enough to set aside something for a rainy day.

Recently during lunchtime at work, I chatted to a colleague about what we did outside of “work”. I mentioned I came home everyday and wrote, and blogged too. She then asked, “So, it’s a hobby?” My heart sank.

Working is a reality check, a means to an end.

We work, at the very least, to survive.

And we work, to find ourselves.

Why do you work? What’s your dream job?

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90 thoughts on “Why We Work

  1. Oh, I haven’t found a dream job yet but at least my last two have still left me some time to write and blog…There are so many of us asking the same questions, I’m curious to see what your readers have to share.

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    • Ah, NW Frame of Mind. Keep dreaming then, I’m sure some day your dream job will manifest. Definitely, a lot of us are always questioning about work, why we work and what we do it for. That is great to hear your job allows you to write and blog…and allows you time to travel and practice photography. A flexible job that gives you time to see the world. Lucky you. But good on you for working it all out, hats off to you.

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      • Thanks, Mabel. 🙂 The longer I work the more I realize that nice people and a flexible schedule are at the top of my priority list. If my work isn’t always interesting, at least my working conditions are great and then with the flexibility my fun can be outside of work hours when I need it.

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  2. I used to have a job that I hated, but I had to endure it because my parents told me to. I worked on that job for 6 years until I resigned for taking English language courses abroad. My next job was alright but I didn’t like the working hours and I felt like my co-workers sometimes acted against me unreasonable. So I left for my current job which I think I like them but sometimes it overwhelms me and I want to have a break but I can’t do that.

    My dream job is writing about my travel and I can earn money for living. Yep, it’s a dream that is hard to be true.

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    • Oh dear, Cotton. So sorry to hear that you were in a job that you didn’t like for a long time. It must have been very hard to turn up to work everyday and find the motivation to do what you were assigned by your then-boss. Didn’t sound like you had a supportive environment in your second job; lots of office politics in the air which is really hard to avoid and is in every workplace. I hope your current job (is) works out for you, seems like the best of the three. In this day and age, having many jobs is common and sticking to one job usually makes you come across as unadaptable.

      Traveling and writing is also my dream job too. So true it’s a dream that will almost never come true, but hey, who knows? 😉

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  3. It’s a great post! Mabel. Sometimes we just need a “bridge job” to make a living before we can make money doing what we are truly passionate about. It’s interesting to see many bloggers with a huge following have monetized their blogs by selling coaching/consulting services and info products to a defined niche (personal development, entrepreneurship, etc). This route is a bit unconventional but it’s not impossible (despite how shady it sounds to our Asian parents).

    My dream job is to be a social media manager who gets to hide behind a computer and be creative most of the time as I don’t really like the stiffness in the corporate world. Unfortunately English is not my mother tongue so I need to work extra hard to reach my goal.

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    • Thanks, Irene. Nice to see you stopping by. “Bridge job”. Never heard of that term before but I like it a lot. Sometimes we need to be proactive and take up a job that we have the skills for but don’t necessary like in order to gain new skills and experiences. Most likely this will give us a leg up in workforce, maybe even boost our confidence interacting with a wide range of people, and help us go after what we’re truly passionate about doing. Interesting you pointed out bloggers monitising their blogs. I have heard of that but haven’t come across too many blogs and bloggers myself, but I’m sure they’ve worked hard for it – and continue to maintain an audience on a money-making platform.

      Good luck in going after your dream job. It sounds like a fun one and I hope you get there. From your comment, I couldn’t tell at all English is your second language. In fact, I thought English was your mother tongue, it’s so good!

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  4. I know what you mean when you say your heart sank. My “hobbies” are my passion, they help define who I am. And no, I do not get paid for them, never have and probably never will. My job doesn’t exactly define who I am… which to tell you the truth, even though in my blog I have declared what training I had, what degree I have, I never declared what I really work in (though it’s funny when I tell people, especially women, they think it’s wonderful) because what defines me is piano, and food and writing too now. xx

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    • Me too, Sofia. “Hobbies” are something I will proudly call work even though they don’t feel like work. When people ask me what I do, I usually say, “I’m a writer. Blogger”, and it makes for interesting conversations 😉 I actually didn’t notice until now what you really worked as…well, I don’t mention what I work exactly as either on my blog, hehe. I love reading your posts about music, cooking and writing. From your blog, I get the impression that you do these three things “full-time” and they make your life very fulfilling. I guess if we love doing something like music or writing or painting, we should do it, no excuses and everything else will fall into place.

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  5. The problem for me is that I actually would love to work again however the situation here in this country is pretty dire for people without too much work experience and only bachelor degree (most companies want at least master degree, 5 years of work experience, 3 languages fluent and you are under 27-28…),
    Well, now we move to Germany were I actually got already few offers and will see how life will go. Probably I will be pretty excited in the beginning which will turn into annoyance after few months 🙂

    My brother however is a total different person than me. He always gets jobs due to his very good education and work experience and once he is bored of his current job he just quits, takes few months off time and starts working somewhere else again… (wish I could do that!)

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    • That’s not so good to hear that your country is being very selective about employment. I actually fit all the three employment criteria (with the exception of languages) you described so maybe I should move over there, but that’s not the point here…

      But congrats on the offers, it sounds very exciting. Always good to have a number of near-guaranteed jobs to consider. Hope you think them through and make the wisest decision, Timo. Your family depends on you! 🙂 I really envy your brother. I want a lifestyle like that where I can work a few months and then take time off, and come back to work. Retail and hospitality are almost the only industries in Australia where you can live this way.

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  6. Hello Mabel,
    I know how it feels like working to earn a living.
    I never hated my work, but neither loved it.
    After almost 10 years with this state of mind, I decided to take a break.
    I have a huge responsibility personally, but very less financial commitments, that let me do it.
    Now, it’s again time to search and find a 9-5 job 🙂 Life has to go on…
    We need to work, whether you like it or not, to show our friends and relatives, that we are working 🙂
    That’s the Asian way of life, right? Be it India, Malaysia or china, I presume 🙂

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    • Nice to hear from you, Sreejith. You’re on the fence, not loving or hating work. First I’ve heard someone say this. Glad you got a break and I suppose you went around seeing the beauty of life around us during this relaxing time 🙂

      So true. The Asian way of life is pretty much work, work, work. Bringing in money. Thinking of others. Which is a very selfless way to live, and a ruthless one at the same time. I wonder if all of us can actually find a work-life balance…some people I know do, but even when they’re not working, they seem to be rushing around attending to family things or appointments. Good luck with the job search, Sreejith, and hope it all works out for you 🙂

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      • Yea Mabel, I ma using this opportunities to the fullest 🙂

        In the last few months, I have done and seen things which I couldn’t in the last 10-15 years 🙂

        Thank you so much for your good wishes …. have a beautiful weekend 🙂

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        • Thanks, Sreejith. So good to hear you’re making the most of the time you have. Sometimes all we have to do is slow down and we see so much more. Have a good week ahead, talk soon.

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          • I had a rather busy weekend but I did manage to explore a few places near my home 🙂
            Yea, you said it, we need to slow down the pace and then we could see a whole different world around us.
            Let me share my favorite quote here, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.” – From the movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. 🙂

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            • That is a great quote from a great movie that I love. Slowing down, we feel less of a need to “catch-up” with things around us and so feel less stressed. Hard to feel that way when you work five days a week and are handed emphatic deadlines 😉

              Great to hear that you’ve managed to get around outside of work. Looking forward to more photos from you.

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  7. Hobby is such a put down, so sorry the person couldn’t appreciate your passion.
    You remind me how lucky I am. I work in a job that I really like, with a great team and good conditions. I entered the workforce at a time when it was pretty easy to get a job, I’m white, middle class and well educated so I’ve been able to be choosy about what I do. I work in the not for profit sector so there’s a lot of job satisfaction. I don’t think I have a dream job, I’m happy with where I am. Thanks for a post that reminds me of all this.

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    • “I’m happy with where I am.” That’s so good to hear, Maamej. Thanks for spreading positivity around here. It can get a bit depressing talking about work and how gloomy it can be. I think you deserve this, getting an education and having a family of different cultures. I think a lot of us forget about staying positive when we’re working – there’s always a bright side to everything we do. My full time job is no doubt tiring and dull, but it has flexible hours and I get some time to write. So I guess I’m lucky too. Thanks for reminding me of this 🙂

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      • Thanks Mabel. After posting I was also thinking how you don’t have to be middle class and educated to like your job; a lot depends on working conditions and having a good team to work with. We spend so much of our time at work, producing value for other people, so I think we all have a right to a job that we (mostly) enjoy and feel respected for.

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        • That is so true. A workplace with a supportive work culture and all-round genuine nice people can make it so much easier to show up to work everyday. So far of all the places I’ve worked, I’ve been lucky enough to have great colleagues and it’s hard leaving when the time comes – you’re right, in jobs like these we feel respected for. Sometimes this makes me think more highly of the job even though I (still) don’t enjoy it too much.

          I’ve always been under the impression the not-for-profit sector treats employees fairly, but you work longer hours, with less flexible hours due to budget constraints 🙂

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          • Sometimes the colleagues are the only thing to enjoy about a job, I suppose.

            It’s true the not for profit sector can be like that, but it is improving in a lot of workplaces. It can exploit people’s good will, but also attracts people whose commitment to social justice extends to their own working conditions 😉

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            • Yeah, if you don’t like what you’re assigned on the job, then talking to your colleagues about life outside of work will be very entertaining. A mindless distraction from work, which we can always do without (sometimes)!

              I like the non-profit sector more over the corporate as the former tends to more transparent, from experience. Sometimes in a corporate job, it’s hard to explain why you’re doing what you’re doing on the job.

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  8. This is a truly honest and down to earth post, Mabel, and I am sure many feel the same. I had been working really hard climbing the corporate ladder in my younger days. We were told to study really hard too and go to university, get our degrees and look for a career, not just a job. The belief is a good degree will get you a high position job. Qualification is amongst the top things you put in your CV back in Asia but when I came to NZ, we learned to write a ‘kiwi styled cv’ where kiwi (local) job experience comes first before qualifications. For new graduates or migrants, this is somewhat of a catch 22 situation. How can one get any work experiences when no company is willing to take the first step to hire this new graduate or migrant?
    Why do I work? Just to past the time and relating to other people. Looking at the bright side, I work in a nice environment and good company but it is a job far too easy for me and for all migrants. I chose to stay (longest job I ever held) because I am no longer chasing a career. Many of us there are like sunken rocks that cannot be moved. Too comfortable in our little comfort zone. 🙂

    PS You can explore on your writing skills on culture and didn’t we talk about you writing a book?

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    • Thanks, Jess. I always get excited when you comment on my posts. What a great comment from you with so many strand of thought about the working world. “kiwi styled cv”. Oh yes, totally know what you mean there. When I first did up my CV a few years ago, I was shocked to be instructed by careers counsellors to put my education at the very bottom, because, as you said, experience comes first before education. And once I did that, I started getting interviews.

      Many employers in Australia assume migrants don’t have the English skills to hold down a job here. Which I think is unfortunate as I’m sure migrants who’ve studied here should almost certainly have the capacity to do so. Speaking of chasing a career, maybe that’s why a lot of us aren’t happy with what you do, as you’ve alluded with your personal experiences. The higher you climb the corporate career ladder, the higher you want to go…all to get a good title, good pay. But the higher you go, there are more office politics and the more unhappy you may be. So maybe stop trying so hard at work sometimes? It’s sort of like love: don’t go looking for love, it will come to you 🙂

      Yes we talked about me writing a book, thanks for reminding me that! Life – and decisions on work – is getting in the way at the moment. But I’m so glad to have an amazing blogger friend to egg me on this mission of mine 🙂

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      • Good morning Mabel. I no longer ‘chase my career’. I am now just a happy go lucky worker, responsible for just the level of work that I am allocated and nothing more. No worries, no longer ‘take work home’. Yes in writing CV, qualifications come last here in Aust/NZ but I do not know about that of other Western countries. I do not love neither hate my job but I could say I do quite like this job, nothing too demanding. Been there and no longer want to spend all my time work, work and work. I just go for the easy way out and do a job that is ‘slow and steady’. In you case, you can look upon yours as a stepping stone, something to past your time yet earn some money while you are still discovering your dreams, be it a writing a book or more ! 🙂

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        • You sound like a dedicated yet chilled out employee, and I reckon your work is lucky to have you. At least you know how to pace yourself and still get things done on the job. To be honest with you, I don’t know if I want to chase a career anymore. Just last year I was still doing that, desperate to land a job where I could make my way to the top and earn a fat paycheck. Today…”the chase” just tires me out as you have to do certain things, be a certain person to get to the top in many industries, at the expense of being just yourself and being happy.

          Haha, Jess. It seems you’re not letting me get away with NOT writing a book 😀 Have a good weekend.

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          • Haa.a.a.. yes, you and your culture book is a MUST.
            Top position, jobwise isn’t everything. I had been there and was such a workaholic that I had forgotten how to be a good wife and mother. Now I sort of look at my job as a way to socialize with colleagues/people and after work, I don’t wanna think about it anymore. Take it easy.. enjoy your weekend, Sweetie. Don’t work too hard. 🙂

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            • Gah…I thought I could get away with being lazy and the book will write itself…. You aren’t letting me get away with this, hehe…

              Socialising at work. That is a good way to make work fun and less boring. No wonder my colleagues who are much older than me love chatting every hour throughout the day.

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              • I aren’t one of those chatting colleagues. Our job are pretty busy, hardly time to chat and I pretty much keep to myself but the mere fact of dressing up professionally and surrounding by other working people is doing something rather then sleeping in and be in my pj till noon (maybe blogging too). I love to sleep in cos I am a night owl. Though I do not love nor hate my job, I see it as a way to ‘socialize’ and still get paid. 🙂

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                • That is such a good point – a job is a way to socialise. And so true. A lot of my colleagues in various jobs have always like sharing what they did last night, what they cooked, what they watched on TV and so on. It’s a good way to see what other people do. The more I chat to them, the more I realise I never do any of the things they do…it’s hard to explain writing and blogging to them 🙂

                  Night owls. That makes the two of us but we’ve always known that 😉

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  9. Very nice discussion, Mabel. Work, in my opinion, defines us and adds texture to our lives. I love the little daily victories (and sometimes big victories) that give you a reason to get up in the morning.

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    • Thanks, Kongo. I love comments from a monkey. Such wise words from you, big and small victories. For instance, I’m sure a lot of us would look forward to getting up more if we knew we had a good breakfast ready for us. Love life, and it will love you back.

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    • What a creative interpretation of my question. I love that. I’m sure your kids are your “paycheck” – paycheck of happiness, joy and content. And this paycheck is worth so much more than a money one. Glad to hear that you like your other job, I bet it makes juggling raising your kids much easier.

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  10. I enjoyed reading your post and hope one day you will be able to do what you love. We spend so much of our lives at work it is sad when we don’t love (or at least like) what we do.
    I suspect I am quite a bit older than you….but I figured out a long time ago being rich is not the important part of work. For me the important part is making a difference!
    I work with people that have disabilities. I help them live more independently…..I love what I do!
    Good luck Mabel….I hope one day your job and your passion will crash and become one!

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    • Thanks, Tree. Knowing that you enjoyed my post gives me hope I’m on track to make a living out of writing….someday. You are right, you are much older than me but I”m sure you have much more pearls of wisdom than me. It’s so great to hear you spend a lot of time with people who have disabilities. I suppose you have to be very patient and understanding in such a role, but at the end of the day you walk away knowing a hundred percent you’ve helped them – which would be very fulfilling for you. I guess if you do what you love, everything else will fall into place.

      Thanks for the encouragement. You have so much positive energy. It’s contagious!

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  11. I get bored quickly for doing routine work… But, luckily I have always been able to create things out of the routines. I have also tried to be active in our profession association, like participating publishing and presentations. It requires a lot of personal time and extra efforts (these don’t always get rewarded instantly) but I think it has made my work more interesting and challenging and helps develop passion for your job; often, rewards come from unexpected places. 🙂
    This is a well-thought topic for the blog post. Thank you, Mabel!

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    • Some find comfort in routine work. You know what to expect, you do this and get this result. No fuss, no drama, and then you can go on your way home from work. “…create things out of the routines”. I like that a lot. As you’ve mentioned, this comes from taking on different activities. These and challenges are great as they help us grow and learn, and help us steer us towards what we love doing.

      I think with passion, or doing a job you love, you don’t often expect rewards. It’s about making a difference…but rewards can be nice 🙂 Thanks for the nice words, Amy. Don’t know if anyone has noticed, but each week’s Weekly Photo Challenge theme determines what I write each week about culture. Scary.

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      • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and wisdom. You’re right, if you are doing what you love, you don’t expect rewards. Putting time and effort up front probably is not an investment that many people are willing to do. 🙂

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  12. Work has importance to the individual and to society. Neither the individual or society functions as well as it could without it. Having worked hard early on, I am now in a position to not need full-time work any more. More leisure now and no financial hassles to ruin it. So maybe I work and have worked to enjoy the future.

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    • Everyone has a different perception of what work is. We could talk about this topic for hours on end. You sound like you’re enjoying your life, Dragon. Wise move on your part to work much in your younger days. Sometimes young people like me just want it all – leisure, money, passion, love – right now.

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  13. You always find the right words and ask the right questions Mabel! This is a great post!
    Unfortunately I’m seeking for a job for almost 5 months now. I live on my savings right now. I’m exhausted writing applications and waiting for an invitation to an interview. Sometimes I can’t motivate myself. I doubt myself. What do I wrong? I know that I don’t have much working experience except of some internships I did during the past 2 years. But I’m able to learn new things and I just wanna get a chance. Right now I’m working in a video rental shop for a few a hours per week. Better than nothing but it’s not even enough money to pay the rent. Luckily I have a really good boyfriend who supports me as best as he can. I hope that I’ll get a job soon. It doesn’t has to be my dream job but I would like to work again. I want to feel useful and wanted like you described it in your post.

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    • Job hunting is never an easy process. So sorry to hear that you’ve been trying to find one for a while. A lot of the time, it takes a combination of good timing and luck to land an interview and a job – nothing wrong with us as we’re all different with different personalities and skills. As long as you keep trying, there is a chance you will get a job 🙂 I did that for over a year, it was a tough year but it finally paid off when I was offered a job.

      Reading your comment, I feel bad about complaining about my job. It made me realise there are so many people out there who want a job, who just want to make a difference. Hats off to them, and to you too, Anja. And thanks for the nice words!

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      • Hi Mabel .. I finally have good news 🙂 I accepted a job offer in Berlin which means that I don’t have to move. And it’s exactly this kind of job what I wanted. I’ll work as a scientific fellow in a laboratory which analyses residues in food. There it was .. my chance and I’m so happy about it. I hope you feel comfortable in your job and sometimes it is quite normal to complain about your job 😉 You don’t need to feel bad about it.

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        • Congratulations! I knew you would get a job soon, so happy for you. Worth the wait 😉 It sounds like a job where you use a lot of your brains, so hopefully they pay you good and you will learn a lot from it!

          I may not like my job, but you know, there are other things in life that make me happy…you’ll see in tomorrow’s post. Once again, so happy for you and congratulations 🙂

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  14. Thanks for this well written post.
    I hate my job. Not only do I hate my job, but I hate the fact that we’re forced into slavery for the banks just to keep the economic wheels turning.

    My job is a typical office job and I could’ve easy been replaced with thousands of others. There’s nothing creative about it at all and I have no use for any of my studies, or anything that I’m remotely interested in, to perform my tasks.
    During history I guess there must have been millions of people that have had jobs similar to mine and after they’re gone nobody knows their names or remembers them. I’m just another nobody in a long line of nobodies. It’s all pretty pointless: we’re still paying the banks for apartments in buildings that have been paid back several generations ago.

    In my eyes work life is the lowest form of existence.

    I’ve tried (and I’m still occasionally trying) to get another job with something that interests me, but too much time has passed since I last worked in that field and since I studied the trade, so the reality is that the train has left the station a long time ago.

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    • That’s very honest of you to say you hate your job. Hate is a very strong word…you must dislike many aspects of your job. Office jobs are probably the most suffocating jobs out there – employees forced indoors, locked away from the world for most part of the day, and made to do monotonous tasks. And attend a massive amount of “consulting” meetings that in my opinion, seem to be a waster of time. Sure, meetings set out agendas but a lot of the time, things rarely get accomplished or it takes so long to do so.

      It’s good to hear that you’re trying to get another job that interests you, no matter how hard it is. You never know. There is always another train pulling into the station.

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  15. I knew pretty early on in life that I wanted to do software development (particularly games development), so I did a software course at uni and ended up in a software job upon graduation. 3 months in, most of my enthusiasm for the job had evaporated. I got a bit cynical at that point and dismissed the possibility of there ever being any dream job if I couldn’t even find any excitement doing something I like at an organisation with a purpose I value.

    Late last year, I quit my job and went into business with a couple of friends making mobile games. I could well say that this is my dream job and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the 8 months I’ve spent in it so far. Even so, many of the things I have to do are far from ideal. The unpleasant bits have included dealing with angry feedback from players, waking up in the middle of the night to do an emergency fix to the game server, having no income thus far (although we will soon) and the difficulty of having any time off. It also wasn’t too great when my parents told me that they had trouble sleeping at night because of their very Chinese concern that going into business will make me lose all my hair, after which no one will want to marry me.

    Work should ideally provide a balance between something worthwhile during working hours and being paid enough to do something worthwhile with your non-working hours. It’s a difficult balance and our need for survival means that it’s easy to gravitate towards boring but well-paying jobs. I always enjoy reading your writing, Mabel, and I hope that sooner rather than later you’ll be free of the boring work and be able to spend your life doing what you love.

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    • Sometimes I wonder whether if all of us will only truly be happy if we worked for ourselves. As you’ve alluded, landing a job in an industry that we’re interested in doesn’t guarantee us our dream job and happiness. Even if we do land our dream job in a reputable organisation, we may grow to dislike what we love to do. I’m inclined to think this is because we’re overly instructed and pressurised with deadlines by our employers a lot of the time…which makes doing what we love extremely routine and no surprise we may fall out of love with it. I’ve always wondered if I will be happy employed as a copywriter or written content creator. Having to stick to a certain writing style and point of view producing content for a company might get tiresome.

      I applaud you for the courage to follow your dreams. No question it’s hard leaving a stable job behind, but I suppose you’ll learn much more along the way than you’ll ever will if you didn’t. Sounds like your venture is keeping you on your toes all hours of the day, and sounds like you have no regrets at all. All the best with that. Hope the money rolls in soon and you achieve a solid market soon.

      It’s always good hearing from you, Sam. Thanks for sticking with me from the beginning, and for the encouraging words too. Not too sure how I will be able to end up doing solely what I love. Not even sure if it’s even possible. But as long as I keep dreaming and trying, no reason why it’s not possible.

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      • I agree with you that what makes work unpleasant is the constraints set by others. When we think about our dream jobs, we fantasise about the enjoyment we’d derive from doing that particular thing that we really like, but not about the paperwork, deadlines and decisions made by others that are a necessary part of the process. Working for ourselves frees us from some of that, but not all. Ultimately, if we’re to be producing something that others will pay for rather than something purely for our personal amusement, we will have to deal with the expectations and constraints set by others.

        It took close to two and a half years for me to make the move. Some of that time was getting my skills up to scratch but a big part of it was really just ensuring that I had enough saved up to sustain my regular expenditure for a couple of years in case the venture didn’t work out. To my parents, it was an enormous risk that I shouldn’t have taken when I had a reasonably well-paying job, but to me, there was never that much risk at all. I went in thinking that even if it didn’t work out, the skills and experience that I’d pick up would enable me to get a higher paying job afterwards. All that was at stake was a year’s worth of income, and seeing as I have another 40 years of work ahead of me, that’s really not that much at all.

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        • When we’re young and fresh graduates, we tend to see things as they are presented to us and not, as you mentioned, the process. Naivety is partly to blame for us thinking our “dream job” will bring us happiness. You raise a good point about working for yourselves – that in the end most of the time we need to cater to an audience or market. Say if I were to put out a book tomorrow with the intention of getting rich overnight, then I’ll probably have to write something controversial and use specific plot lines.

          Discipline is what we need if we want to work for ourselves and make a living out of it. Self-belief and courage too, and it sounds like you’ve got all of them to have stuck with independently making mobile games. A lot of planning has to go before making such a big decision too. I really hope it works out for you, you never know. Sometimes it takes the combination of timing and luck for things to work out, especially if you’re a creative type going after your creative passion. Don’t know if I’ll ever make a move as big as yours…starting and subsequently maintaining the blog was already a big thing for me.

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  16. “So, it’s a hobby?” I still get this too! Annoying as hell!

    People are so conditioned to not see life in the arts as a fulfilling, even moneymaking career. Ridiculous!

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    • It is annoying. Usually when I get asked, “So, it’s a hobby?”, I like to stare at them for a bit, and this is partly because I always get shocked at the question. Yeah, can’t understand why some people think the arts and creative industries don’t promise worthwhile careers. There are tons out there who do make a decent living out of being creative. Hats off to them for working towards what they love.

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  17. Mabel, I love your thoughts! So much depends on our passion. But nobody cares except ourselves. I’m deep in the job search right now and I’m finding it difficult to keep my head up. I find it frustrating to whittle down my experiences and potential into a small collection of documents. The hardest part is nailing the “required experience”. For years, I have tried to focus on my creative endeavors. Was it passion? I’m not sure. Now it is. Then, my job took my life over and my creations suffered. I have resolved that that will never happen again, unless my job is my creations. Even then, there will be trials and tribulations. And that is okay. It’s better than stagnation.

    Hobbies or not, what we do out of love is worth it. There is a remarkable difference between consumers and creators. At times, an almost impenetrable gulf breaks the floor wide open. You are a wonderful creator. Embrace it.

    I love your ending. Truer words have not been communicated.

    Working is a reality check, a means to an end.

    We work, at the very least, to survive.

    And we work, to find ourselves.

    Why do you work? What’s your dream job?

    To answer. I work because I must. My dream job is to be an author. One day at a time.

    Lovely topic. Have a wonderful day!

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    • “But nobody cares except ourselves.” That sentence really touched and resonated with me. There are other writers out there, just like there are a ton of artists, dancers and painters out there. But at the end of the day, what we write, or the craft that we both practice and create, is ultimately unique. Sure, we can get together and chat with like-minded people who practice the same craft as us, but the emotions and stories behind what we create will be our very own…sometimes only us will truly, fully get it and understand the whole process of it. In short, there will always be some degree of loneliness working in a creative field.

      No question that it is challenging to juggle creative endeavours and a mundane job. After a full day’s work, I come home wanting to write, but just too tired physically and mentally to get much words out. It sounded like this was what happened to you too, and I sympathise. I’m sure all those years focusing on being creative wasn’t a waste…it never is, but is usually is a stepping stone to bigger things. Good luck with the job search. It’s a challenging, frustrating and see-sawing emotional experience, but we all come out of it stronger one or or the other.

      And thanks for the nice words, Matthew. And the lovely comment. I really appreciate it.

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  18. 67 “thoughts” just as I started writing my comment here. You’re doing well, Mabel.

    As I read through the comments, it’s interesting that a lot of the perspective comes from the employee, and not so much from a full time entrepreneur or business owner. I somewhat have a perspective in both sides as I am paid to do work, but I also pay others to do work for me.

    As a person that pays others, the thinking is a bit different. Business owners and to some extent managers tend to see employees as a resource, or capital you could say, that provides some kind of useful purpose to the company. When taking out the human factor, an employee is no different than a machine that manufacturers a product to be sold. I know it sounds cold, but bare with me. If I buy a machine to create cars, I want it to operate at full capacity and efficiency with the least of downtown. Any downtime is considered money lost. Naturally we would expect the same from an employee. We want our employees to work at full capacity and efficiency as allowed by law. We prefer not to pay for sick days or holidays, because those days don’t give any immediate return for the expense. In summary, it’s common for business owners to look at everything by the numbers and squeeze the most out of each resource, whether mechanical or biological.

    Now, just because it’s common to think this way doesn’t mean it’s right. The human factor cannot be ignored. If a machine over heats, simply change the fan or coolant and put it back to work. If it a part wears out, simply replace it and oil it, and put it back online as soon as possible. Machines can be fixed to be good as new in a very predictable amount of time. Humans aren’t so simply. We’re so much more complex to manage, but we also offer innovation and creativity that can never be replicated by a machine. Humans can’t have the same kind of maintenance schedule as a machine. Humans need appreciation, acknowledgment, encouragement, smiles, genuine trust, and a worthwhile connection. It almost sounds too much, but the return on this will be at least tenfold more than what any mechanical resource can achieve. In nut shell, it’s all worth it, but it also feels good to make other humans feel good.

    While I pay others to work for me, I make an effort to thank them genuinely, crack a joke every so often, send tasty treats as gifts, and see them in person with a smile. I know they’ll have off days and good days. It’s normal because we’re human. In the end, they’re as human as I am, and have the same problems and responsibilities that I do. So I don’t like to think of employees as resources. Rather, they are partners and associates that are a strategic component to my success.

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    • I love that you bring up this whole other side of the story when it comes to work, BLT. Spot on what you’ve said. In talking about work, it does seem that we seem to be a bit self-centred, thinking only about the plight and unhappiness of employees and fail to acknowledge employers or people who run the workplace or their own business. What we all do at the end of the day is not just work, but we put in the effort to make a difference into how this world is run and help others around us too.

      So true: business owners have their own goals at work. So do their employees. You sound like a very good boss and know how to treat those in your company right. But not all entrepreneurs and owners are like that…in these situations hopefully the employees can speak up for themselves and nut something out with their boss to make their working conditions more bearable. Partners and associates – I think that’s what we should all call ourselves at work and do away with titles such as “manager”, “CEO” and so forth. Everyone has a part and role to play.

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      • Another perspective: a salary or hourly wage employee will always get their “cut” of the money regardless of how much revenue the business brings in or doesn’t bring in (I say this with respect to the states and likely Australia too). If your boss comes up to you and says I can’t pay you and still expects you to work until he can, there are labor laws against that the owner can be prosecuted for that ( that’s the beauty of living and working in a first world country). Business owners are the last to be paid, after all expenses from employees, utilities, rent, debts, etc…are paid off for each pay period. It’s genuinely tough. My property manager gets her cut of the rent regardless of what my mortgage, maintenance, insurance, or taxes cost. In this regard, it’s no surprise that business owners, especially start ups, are constantly managing expenses and trying to squeeze the most return on their employees.

        But by also being on the employee side, I know how demeaning it is when a boss thinks they own and control you because they pay you money. That only leads to misery. All in all, it comes down to a fine balance between both parties. Employees can’t live without business owners. Business owners can’t reasonably operate and scale up a business without good employees. This is why it’s important, as you originally mentioned in the blog post, to find a good fit. The boss has needs, and the employee has needs. There must be an intersection between the two parties.

        My perspective changed a lot ever since I was on the side that had to pay other people, but it’s also clear a reasonable outcome can be reached when both sides put their best foot forward.

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        • “to find a good fit”. Glad you say and think that. I’ve heard this phrase countless of times from my bosses in almost all the jobs that I’ve had, casual, part-time or full-time jobs. You’re so right about how business owners need employees and vice-versa. At the end of the day, we all want money in the pockets so we can put dinner on the table. We also don’t want to work in a miserable or tough work environment where we’re struggling to get along with one another. Not only is it bad for our productivity at work, it is also bad for our own personal well-being – chances are we’ll complain to others about work all the time.

          Having a reasonable and approachable boos and encouraging colleagues almost certainly makes a job that you don’t like bearable. And you might come to love the environment you work in, though you might always dislike your job.

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  19. Good question, and I think we work to contribute. Ideally it is something we love to do, and I think it is something we can learn to love…the key being what you put into the work. From a young age working summers doing lawn work on the weekends, I was taught to step back and take a look at my work as it is reflective of who I am. And from that point, it is easy for me to do my best with work, which somehow rolls right over into how I live life after I get off from work. There are times where I am still trying to find myself, even with a job a love, but that is just part of the endless quest to figure out what life is all about 🙂

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    • Work “is something we can learn to love”. I have to agree with that. It’s always challenging and intimidating doing something we’re not familiar with at first, but sooner or later we’ll get the hang of it and come to see its purpose. With my current job, no secret I’m not a fan of it, but that doesn’t stop me from showing up on time and doing my best to achieve the targets put forth to me. Every job, work, is a commitment we make to ourselves.

      Hats off to you to doing your best at something “small” such as lawn work and seeing it as reflective of who you are…I have a lot to learn from you 🙂

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      • It is strange how I’ve had jobs that I really hated, but it seemed if I worked harder at the job the situation would change (and it usually was finding/creating an opportunity elsewhere and getting out of there as fast as I could!!!). It would be great to have a job that could really define who we are (our lives and dreams) but I don’t think that is really possible ~ just a small part of who we are with the rest (hobbies, family and what we do). Who knows 🙂

        Funny you picked up on the lawn work, I can still remember my Mom giving me that advice, and then finishing up someone’s lawn and taking a look before I left and saw a few small things that if I corrected would really make the lawn look great. It really hit me at that time how true it is. Cheers to a great summer Mabel 🙂

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        • “Worked harder at the job” and things will change. Funny you say that. In my current data processing job, I thrown myself into what I’ve been assigned and pushing myself to do more. It feels good to hit targets and I’ve learnt I could do some things I never thought I would. Got a feeling there will come a time soon it will be time for me to fly. Haha, you sure have an eye for detail, Randall, making a lawn look great. No wonder your photos always tell a story 🙂

          I think if we were to have a job that truly defines who we are and what we stand for, it would be a job where we’d be our own boss, working for ourselves and only for ourselves 🙂

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          • Being your own boss has many benefits ~ I think you work harder, think more about work, but are also given so much more flexibility that it is possible to really enjoy life/work.

            I like the way you described work in your first paragraph. Reminds me of Paulo Coelho’s book the Alchemist, which is a brilliant read about opportunity (and work). Cheers!

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            • Being your own boss, if you’re a very hard working one, then I think you’ll be your worst critic too 😀

              Not too sure which paragraph you are referring too, but nice to hear you like it. Thanks for sharing the book. Looked it up, it looks like a good read and will check it out at some point.

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  20. I haven’t read everyone else’s comments in this thread (great that you generated chat). What type of job would you like to have/pursue?

    Fortunately I have had a career related to what I trained for…but I had to get my Master’s for it. That was um, several decades ago.

    So I am more of the fortunate ones and feel incredibly blessed to have learned and met people who were my clients that I would not meet otherwise. Right now, it’s just working, using my skills and giving back without burning myself out….before I retire..but that’s another decade away. Sigh.

    The reality is that when one’s parents poor themselves, their progeny have to work.

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    • What I love doing vs what type of job I would like to pursue. Very good question, you’re the first to ask me that. I like writing. I’ve done an internship in a newsroom copy writing, but the idea of being a journalist doesn’t excite me. Neither does writing press releases and moderating social media channels for a company. I wouldn’t mind doing these jobs part time or for a bit. But in the long run I want to be my own boss…write books.

      Sounds like you got your career all figured out. I bet doing your Masters was worth it. With Masters, you get to learn about a field so much more in-depth and get a renewed appreciation for why people dedicate their lives to that. If you love your job, then you’ll always try your very best to achieve and surpass expectations. So you’re right about trying not to burn yourself out. Seems that cycling helps balances your life out 🙂

      Yeah, if one has poor parents, they would have no choice but to work to sustain their own lives whether they like it or not.

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  21. I thought I found my dream job but … anyway. I am not getting any younger as one grow older, I have the feeling that the clocks ticks even faster each year passes than I knew when I was studying. mmmm… wonder why is it so. Do you also feel that?

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    • Hmmm. Don’t know if I feel the same way. There are days today for me that pass by fast, and they are days when I am very busy at work. If I have an off day or its the weekend, I usually go out for a walk and later do some writing, and I find time passes quite slow then. I think if we focus in the moment then time will pass slower. I don’t know, just tossing up ideas. What do you think?

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      • mmm.. to me. Guess I have lots of things to do till I have little time to myself. The only time I can think off when time pass really really slow was when I was studying in uni. Ever since I started working, I felt time just gone faster and faster (till a point it got so scary!!) Like the saying goes, ‘Time waits for no man (or women)’. I still have so many things that I wanted to do but I feel I am just so short of time. Aarggh…..

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        • Just today I had a busy day at work. Worked non-stop the whole day and the day just flew by. Working full time does take up a big chunk of our time, and when we’re not working usually we are tired and want to rest or do mindless things like park ourselves in front of the TV. So maybe that’s why we feel we have little time on our hands.

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  22. I have it pretty good now, but when I was a younger lad, I dreamed of being a physician. It never came to bear and it may have taken 4 years after my university degree to find my path, but it’s a great fit! Well worth the wait! Be patient. It will come. 🙂

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    • “It will come.” You sound so sure of yourself 😀 I take your word for it. If I keep working hard, who knows what can happen. Anything’s possible after all. Never thought you were in interested in being a physician. I see you more as an artistic creative type…which of course you are!

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      • Haha! That’s really flattering that I come across as artistic to you. You would probably think that I was a rather dull person if I met you. Well, initially you would think so because I tend to keep it to myself.

        You will find your path, certainly. I AM that confident. You are doing things that you love and that’s how you will figure it out!

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        • With all the traveling you do, Marcus, I find it hard to see you as a dull person. And with so many people you’ve met on your travels alone, I think I’m right!

          Okay. If I don’t find my path, then you owe me lunch! Deal 🙂

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  23. I know how you feel. There are certain aspects of my job that I love, but if I am not content with it overall, it is really deflating. I could never do a job without really putting myself into and taking pride in what I do — or at least wanting to. I hope you find a job you love soon!!

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