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Don’t Like To Work? (And What You Can Do About It) Part II

Interestingly, this phrase is one of the top search phrases that lead folks to Bailey WorkPlay. As much as it pains me to say it, I can understand why. I’ve done my fair share of work that’s sucked, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to do work that’s been exciting and rewarding.

Here’s a truth about me: I don’t like to work either when that work doesn’t challenge me, inspire me, or use the best that I have to offer. So, this issue is one that I’m curious to explore in more depth. Below is part 2 of 2 in this series covering three more reasons why we might not like to work.

Reason #3: I don’t like to work because…I dislike the people I work with/for.
I guess there are two ways of looking at this. Either you’re working with folks who you genuinely have no connection with (I’m trying to be diplomatic here…we all have worked with people who were flaming numbskulls). Or you’re the problematic person who seems to push co-workers away. If it’s the latter and you’re self-aware enough to know it, consider whether your negativity is due to your own unhappiness in your work or personal life. If that’s the case, it’s okay…you have an opportunity now to fix it.

But if it’s the former and you find yourself working around unpleasant people, that’s a level of stress that’s probably not going to go away any time soon…particularly if it’s your manager. I can’t promise any easy remedies, but I will offer this: they’re likely not going to change for you. Which means you’ll need to either learn to navigate around difficult personalities or get the heck out of there.

Reason #4: I don’t like to work because…I’m tired.
There’s no doubt about it…a job can exhaust us, sap our energy, keep us in what feels like a never-ending spiral. Taking a vacation often means coming back to more work so we don’t take the leave that is one of the top benefits an organization offers. But I will argue that’s not work, that’s a J-O-B. Work often requires an intense energy, but it’s an energy that quickly restores itself because we can’t wait to do it again and again. If your job drains you, think deeply about whether it’s work you really want to be doing.

Reason #5: I don’t like to work because…I’d rather do something else I enjoy a lot more.
There are two questions that are worth asking here: what is this activity you’d rather be doing and is there a way to turn it into an income-generating gig? While it’s not always possible, sometimes there are ways to pursue a playful passion and make it a career. It might take some imagination and bit of risk-taking, but wouldn’t you rather get up every day knowing that your work is something you absolutely love?

Here’s another question: are you ignoring a powerful signal trying to tell you something important? If play means being outside hiking and you’re stuck inside an office all day, maybe your work is better geared toward being in the open air. If you love to cook, but you’re crunching numbers for 8 hours a day, maybe it’s time to think about those culinary classes you’ve been putting off or that dream of starting a catering business.

If you come to determine that your playful activity will always just be a non-paying hobby, that’s okay. You might just keep it in your backpocket and perhaps there will come a day when your playful activity might open an opportunity to take it in a professional direction.

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Don’t Like To Work? (And What You Can Do About It) Part I

Interestingly, this phrase is one of the top search phrases that lead folks to Bailey WorkPlay. As much as it pains me to say it, I can understand why. I’ve done my fair share of work that’s sucked, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to do work that’s been exciting and rewarding.

Here’s a truth about me: I don’t like to work either when that work doesn’t challenge me, inspire me, or use the best that I have to offer. So, this issue is one that I’m curious to explore in more depth. Below is part 1 of 2 in this series covering two reasons why we might not like to work.

Reason #1: I don’t like to work because…the work I do feels like drudgery.
I’m starting with what I think is probably the #1 reason folks do a Google search on this phrase in the first place. You’re in a rut, doing a job that sucks, wishing there was something better on the horizon. Now, I can tell you that the answer is to get out and go find work that you’re truly passionate about, but somehow I think you already know this. The question you’re likely wrestling with is…how? I can’t offer a complete answer here, but I say this: you owe it to yourself to find work that is uniquely yours, that fits your unique set of talents, that makes you feel of use. Make a commitment to find a career coach who can help guide you toward work that let’s your best shine through every day (note: I’ve worked with quite a few who I can highly recommend so shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to guide you along).

Other things you can do right now…
Know exactly what that drudgery looks like to you. Do you seriously want to leap to something else only to land in the same muck you left? Sit down and create an inventory of what you dislike about your JOB. Once you know what that drudgery looks like, you’ll hopefully be far less likely to find yourself neck-deep in it again.

Okay, now what do you like about your JOB? I guarantee there’s something there you can work from. Build an inventory of these things. You can use this list to construct an idea of what your best work looks like.

Reason #2: I don’t like to work because…I feel undervalued, underappreciated, underpaid, under-etc.
This was the impetus behind my recent post You Alone Define Your Value. Far too often, we internalize these feelings and own them as if they were ours to hold. Well, it’s time to disown this crap right now.

Things you can do right now…
Reclaim your value in your current work. If you feel undervalued, underappreciated, etc., create a gameplan for addressing this. It starts with you. Do you honestly feel that you’ve added value to your organization? Have you done something remarkable in the past few months? Have you visibly grown your business over the past year? If you can answer “yes” and have concrete examples, put these to paper. Now, it’s time to have a chat with your manager. Given the belt-tightening that’s going on right now, you may not be able to do much about the underpaid issue, but focus on a persuasive argument as to how your performance deserves greater visibility. Managers aren’t mindreaders and as much as we might expect them to instantly see our work and give us the necessary kudos, we need to understand they can fall prey to busyness too and can benefit from our gentle prods.

Find another place to work where you are valued, appreciated, well-paid, etc. Let’s say that you’ve done the first exercise and had the talk with your manager to little effect. Then, it’s time to move on. If you like the work you do and need to find another place to practice it, connect with your network. If you don’t know what that looks like, find a career coach, a mentor, or a colleague to bounce ideas.

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Why Job Fit Is Important To Your Confidence

Unless you’re one of the exceptionally rare and fortunate individuals who has always landed in the right job, you’ve had at least one job that didn’t fit right. Like a pair of shoes three sizes too large or small, it always felt poorly aligned with who you are and your unique set of talents. Maybe you’re in one of these jobs right now. If so, let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you often question your own personal value?
  • Do you sometimes feel a distinct lack of confidence in your abilities?
  • Do you feel marginalized and demotivated?
  • Do you wonder if you’re professionally valuable not only within your current organization, but possibly in future organizations, as well?

When we talk about job fit, at least on a surface level, we may understand its importance. But there is a deeper level to job fit which affects us psychologically. Here, we begin to form stories about ourselves. If the fit is wrong, then it’s much easier to create stories that the reason it’s wrong is because of what we’re doing. We tend to pin the blame on ourselves. If we’re not getting it, then it must be because of a deficit of ours, rather than the actual job or even the organizational structure supporting the job.

I’m not suggesting that we should throw personal responsibility out the window. But all too often, we take a bad job fit and assume all the responsibility for not doing well, not feeling content with our work, not feeling that we’re bring our best into the world everyday.

Instead, let’s take a breathe, back up, and consider a bigger perspective. Let’s get curious about whether we’re doing a job or in a position that uniquely fits us. Let’s think of how our work can create a healthier livelihood for ourselves. Let’s hold true to the knowledge that we do have choices about how we live each day.

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