Are we the unhappiest workers ever?
On average, we only have 27,350 days on this planet. And 10,575 of those are working days. Time is ticking.
If those days are spent doing something you don’t love with people you don’t like and/or in an environment that depresses you, it’s a terrible waste of life.
For most of us, work is a necessity. We need to earn money to provide shelter and sustenance (and huge HD TV screens, of course). Money makes the world go round, and without it we are stymied. No money means no choice. No choice means no fun. And no fun means a very dull life indeed.
The trap isn’t only about money. Our ambitions, our goals, our own sense of identity are also shackled by the chains of work. How can you become the hero of your own life when you’re renting yourself out for at least ten hours a day.
Work is like a drug to us. It feeds us little hits of success, friendship, growth, power, recognition. Those hits feel amazing and before we know it we want a bit more. We are all different in our susceptibility to work’s seductions, but none of us is immune.
Work is also good for us. It satisfies many of our basic needs. It gives us meaning and purpose. It helps us to live the lives that we choose. It helps us grow and connect with others. However, as with all drugs, consumption can easily turn to The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows that Americans feel worse about their jobs and their work environment today than ever before. They estimate the cost of America’s ‘disengagement crisis’ at $300 billion a year: 71 per cent of Americans work during vacation. Only 38 per cent take their holiday allowance while 30 per cent don’t even take a lunch break and 48 per cent believe that their lives have become more stressful over the last five years. I’d expect to find a similar pattern in most developed.
Something is clearly out of balance.
Work is becoming less fun and more painful than it should be. Work can take away our shine, resulting in us living a little less brightly every day.
But our problems are not work’s fault: ‘work’ as an entity doesn’t exist. It has no consciousness. Work is what we do. It is what we are.
There is no point blaming work; we have to look at ourselves.
We need to change our relationship with work for us to be fulfilled, engaged and downright magnificent. And we therefore have to change our relationship with ourselves.
So the question is 'how much is my job delivering for me?'
Ask yourself how to rate against these statements:
- I work too hard
- I can't switch off
- I have become my work
- I am often angry or frustrated by my work
- I feel stuck
- I get bored
- I feel that my job just isn't me
- Nothing new ever happens at work
- I live for the evenings and weekends and holidays
- I feel as if work is something to be endured
- I'm not having fun
- I have become somebody I never intended to be
- My bosses are idiots and make our lives hell
- At our place you just can't win.
If any of these resonate, then it's worth stepping back and having a quick audit of your work and your job and ask yourself how much of your time you're spending doing something that you are great at and how much time you spending doing something that you love?
You know if it's not enough and if that's the case change it.
That’s what FREE is about.
Adapted from Free! Love Your Work, Love Your Life by Chris Baréz-Brown, published by Penguin.