Rainbows and Butterflies

There are times when work is not fun. There are times we don’t want to get up in the morning. There are parts of everyone’s job that suck.

If you work in Corporate America I would assume these statements resonate with you on some level. At some point in my professional career, I realized that my college life (read: rainbows and butterflies) was not going to materialize in the same manner in my professional life. While it’s admirable to truly do what you love and work in a job you are passionate about, everyone, even those people, has days that suck and moments where they dislike their job.

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Over the years, I’ve had hundreds of conversations with people about their careers and one thing I’ve learned everyone has things they like and dislike about work. Unfortunately, our paycheck requires us to do both of them. It’s not so much about the good times – everyone can weather those, but how you handle the bad times and adverse conditions is going to determine how well you do and what you gain from your work experience.

I often tell people it’s not about you do, but rather, what you are willing to give up sacrifice in order to do the job you do. Or, said another way, like marriage, when you pick a job, you pick your problems. For some, that’s long nights and weekend work. For others, its low pay, and for people in my industry it’s getting on a flight twice a week and living out of a suitcase.

So, how do you figure out what you love and what you hate? Here’s a simple exercise:

  1. Write down all the things that you love about your job.
  2. Write down all the things you have to give up in order to do those things you like.
  3. For the things you like, rate how much you like them, and for the things you hate, determine how much you’re willing to endure them to do the things you like.

This exercise will help you appreciate the benefits but also acknowledge your limits for the downside that comes with your job.

At some point, you may come to the realization that whatever you are doing while great is not worth what you have to give up, and that’s okay. I think you’ll find that even when we’re frustrated with our jobs there are a lot more things we like and appreciate about them when we really think about our priorities and sacrifices.

 

Work will not always be rainbows and butterflies. But it can certainly give you things that bring you joy, happiness, and engagement. You just need to define what that is, and what you’re willing to give up to achieve it.

 

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