Maybe Your Job Isn’t Supposed To Be Something You Love

Yesterday, Economic blogger Mike “Mish” Shedlock wrote about how many people are unhappy with their jobs. He recommended a book for those who want to try to change.

If that book helps someone get a more satisfying career, more power to them. I’m happy for you. But I have a different perspective on loving one’s job.

  • You should be happy about your job because it provides you with income. Everyone could use more income, but it is better than nothing.
  • You should be happy with your job because it allows you to buy things.
  • You should be happy with your job because it allows you some free time and resources to do something that you want to do.

When I read articles, like this one in the Huffington Post, talking about “satisfaction” with one’s job, I don’t know how anyone can claim that is usable information. How can we say anything about “job satisfaction” without talking about what expectations are brought to the job by the worker? Perhaps the key to job satisfaction is not a “better” job, but rather realistic expectations of the work.

Susan Adams writes in Forbes:

If you don’t like your job, you are not alone. According to a massive report released yesterday by Gallup, the Washington, D.C.-based polling organization, there are twice as many “actively disengaged” workers in the world as there are “engaged” workers who love their jobs.

Since the late 1990s, Gallup has been measuring international employee satisfaction through a survey it has been honing over the years. In total it has polled 25 million employees in 189 different countries. The latest version, released this week, gathered information from 230,000 full-time and part-time workers in 142 countries.

Overall, Gallup found that only 13% of workers feel engaged by their jobs. That means they feel a sense of passion for their work, a deep connection to their employer and they spend their days driving innovation and moving their company forward.

But, as Mish notes, Rasmussin reports that only 25 percent are looking for a new job. I think that is a much more objective way to measure lack of “engagement” at work. Anyone can express an opinion of dissatisfaction at work. But if they are actually spending time updating and sending out their resume then you know that they are devoting time and resources to find a better job. That is a much better indicator that they are truly unhappy with their present job than to simply ask them how they feel about it.

Through most of human history people have been forced to work in order to survive. Outside a few cities, there were no job fairs or career counselors. No one took an aptitude test. Such things aren’t an essential feature of human progress. It is true that, as the division of labor became more prominent, that it became more possible to choose a job among many options. But when the economy is hurting, there will never be as many options.

My challenge to you is to actually work to change your job if you really are so dissatisfied with it. But if you realize that is unrealistic, maybe you should devote your time and energies outside of your work to other ways to improve your life. Perhaps even work more self-consciously at making your present job even better for you.