Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Of Dream Jobs and Scut Work

This popped up in my Facebook feed:

It made me think a lot.

On the whole, I am a fan of Mike Rowe, or at least what I have read and seen of him.  He espouses a good work ethic and the value of labor and skills, not just college.

And his quote spoke volumes to me.

I am, I suppose, like Millennials in at least one way:  I want to have a dream job.  The engaging career.  The thing that lifts me out of bed in the morning and drives me to work all day.  The job that pays more than enough and allows for the time to do the other activities that I truly want to do.

Sounds great, does it not?  The operative word in the phrase "dream job", though, is "dream".

The reality is that I, like lots of others in my age cohort, have a career.  Perhaps not the one we had dreamed of.  Perhaps not the one we planned on when we were children ("When I grow up, I want to work in a cubicle farm and sit in front of a computer screen all day" - said no child ever).    But it is a a career.  It pays the bills - it may even leave us a bit to fund what we want to do.

My problem - my own, not anyone else's - is I have allowed myself to believe the idea that there is that dream job out there, that perfect career that I have somehow been denied and forced instead to endure the lesser thrill of necessity.  In the back of my head, that career is out there for me - if I just search a little farther I can find it.

The reality, though, is I am rapidly running out of time - in fact, it may be too late.  As I have written years ago, if I am very fortunate I will be able to finish out my effective working life working in the career field I am in without having to "start over" in a new line of work not of my primary choosing.

The one change I need to make, as I sit here vaguely disappointed with the oncoming train that is Reality, is how I spend my time.  The reality is this:  I spend most of my time desperately trying to not do anything remotely related to work.  The reality is - especially in this global environment - it is necessary that I spend at least part of my time on tending to that part of my career, to continue to make myself at least employable if not promotable.

There is the rub of course - by doing that, I invest more of my precious time not at work in  work instead of in the things I really want to do - in some cases, on the things that in my mistaken belief I think will come to replace the work (maybe, someday, in a retirement pocket money sort of way).

But - and this comes back to Rowe's statement - it is part of the scut work.  And while it may not be magnificent, it at least fills the time in a way that might result in an improvement to my bottom line.  Which indirectly pays for me to do the things I really like to.

It is called growing up - something which almost, constantly, I seem to struggle with in my work.

Time to hang the dreams up with the nightshirt.


John Wooldridge said...

I agree and disagree my friend, yes one must apply one's self to the chosen career (not necessarily chosen by oneself) if you are not to hate every single moment of the working day (or night) and allow it to drag one down. I think the trick is not caring how others perform, gain promotion, shirk duties and moan about work but just apply yourself to doing the best you can until clocking off time but then leave the job in the workplace.
But why not think of other jobs or careers you could take on? It is not being childish to want the 'dream job' but it is something you can look for no matter your age. I am over the half century now and have decided that it is time to move on from my present employment...yes I will still 100% there with no sign of my intentions until the day my notice is given in and yes this will be daunting but at the same time another experience to enjoy and yes I shall be breaking a gospel rule of mine when leaving 'not to burn my bridges' because this time my scathing words to management will do just that.
I hope this has helped a little TB, tis easy to write these words but far more difficult acting them out.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Thanks John. You make a super important (and well thought out, as it always is) point: a career should be something we put ourselves in to but not considered a life sentence. My problem seems to be that my head is seldom "there"; it is always out chasing the thing I think I would like to be doing.

On point as well about looking at the "dream job: through these lenses of what else do I want to do. Certainly (or I believe certainly) there are positions which my talents and skills would more precisely prepare me for. It is just a matter of finding that and moving forward.

And about the words being easier to write rather than to act out? My friend, I have been there more times than you know.

Thanks, as always, for your wisdom. - TB