Most people go to work every day in denial. A recent survey revealed that 19% of employees said they were satisfied with their jobs, meaning a staggering 81% of people willingly accept a state of dissatisfaction.
Last year, a friend of mine took the whole year off travelling after he was made redundant. He returned home with wide eyed optimism ready to re-embed some structure back into his life, but quickly found out that the job market had changed a little since he was sixteen. Before long he began feeling depressed and expressed his desire to find anything, any job, just to earn some money.
A few months past and his prayers were answered; he was back in an office doing a similar role to the last yet something had changed. The job he desired so dearly just weeks earlier had suddenly become the bane of his life. I remember him telling me that he had spent a whole day asking colleagues around the office whether or not they actually enjoyed what they did to which most replied, “it pays well.”
A few more weeks past and my friend had slowly settled into his predicament, “I think I can probably stick it out for a few more months.” The regular pay and the re-emergence of a lifestyle he once knew slowly fell back into place and before long the complaints became few and far between.
What I learnt from my friend and his employment woes is that humans over time will choose pain with structure over happiness with unpredictability. Another damning truth is that similar to those in abusive relationships, employees will alter or trivialise the importance of their own values and beliefs in order to function in a less than ideal situation. Victims of domestic abuse are well known for stating how wonderful their partners once were and so excuse their current behaviour. Those in jobs they hate will always come out with phrases such as, “we’ll at least it pays the bills” or “it’s better than being on the dole,” but what they are actually saying is that they have consciously or unconsciously come to terms with neglecting their own wellbeing.
Nothing is set in stone, there is always an opportunity for change but it’s only by staying mindful of a situation that you can hold yourself at a safe distance rather than becoming consumed by it. Having a job you don’t enjoy is ok if it’s a leg up to where you want to be but naturally your mind will want to protect you, create structure and find ways to accept the environment you’ve placed it in. Everybody has an overriding purpose in life but few actually live it. Sometimes the only way to reconnect with that purpose is to unplug from the lifestyle you’ve let consume you.