Monday rolls around, and you’re still at home, feeling like hell, and wanting to be in the office. Did you find a job you love? Must have. With that curious notion in mind, let’s ask the burning question, why is it important to love your job? And what will you miss about your job when you retire?
Inspiration for this post is a book I’m reading: This is the Year I Put My Financial Life in Order. The author, John Schwartz, struck a nerve. He never complained an iota about his day job as a journalist, throughout the 200+ pages of personal finance anecdotes.
If it were my book, you’d expect the title to be “Cubicle Loathing”, and the pages peppered with Office Space-like anecdotes. That’s what you’d expect, but today we’re going to focus on the silver linings of the unheralded corporate day job. Rat-racers, strap on those kicks!
Why I “Love” My Day Job: A Very Special Top-10 List
If you’ve kept up with earlier postings on this blog, you’ll find moments like that Jiro post where I strongly questioned the whole notion of early retirement. I’m not jumping back off the deep end, but lets at least balance the equation today and put on our skeptic’s hat. We might learn something about ourselves?
Bear with me, my fine readers… It’s list time.
- It gets me out of the house. Cabin fever during the winter months is especially dulling.
- It instantly surrounds me with other people. Good people. And many of my friendships originated in the office. I’d miss this source of quality pals!
- It makes me feel like a responsible grown-up on Monday through Friday. Everyone else is here. I should be here too. I’ve never been one to play hooky.
- It makes me feel like I’m smart and capable. Granted, some days are better than others!
- There’s good people-watching. Fact: I’m getting older all the time. And dude, those are high waters. Never in-fashion!
- My day job forces me to bathe, shave, and dress like I give two sh*ts about my appearance. Mrs. Cubert loves this, especially after a weekend of regression to ultimate bum.
- Free cake. Sometimes. Melvin? Maybe even free lunch, depending on your vendor Rolodex.
- Occasional happy hours, coffee breaks, and lunches with colleagues fill my social cup.
- Projects reach the finish line. You feel good about getting sh*t done. Real, meaningful sh*t. And sometimes it’s the kind of “sh*t” that makes a difference!
- It challenges you to improve. Soft skills. Technical skills. You name it. Most office jobs are at least as good as a gladiator’s arena. Slay the grizzly bear, and you move up to face more ominous beasts. Promotions are hard to come by the higher up you move, but you still have a stretch goal to work towards.
I reckon I could go on and drum up another 10 or so if I wanted to. But I think 10 is more than enough to make the point. And that point? Your day job offers something more than just a paycheck. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to look past that if you’ve got a not-so-great boss, or the work drains the sap out of you, and/or your commute is forever and a day. Every day… Most of that, if not all of that, we can control.
Surviving a cubicle job for the long haul is another topic. This list is intended to highlight the good stuff. As marginal as that “good stuff” seems during the low points, you may find yourself yearning for the “good old’ days” once in retirement. If you’re not prepared.
What Confucius Said About Work-Life Balance
Do everything in moderation, even moderation.
Thanks, Confucius. So now what? We can’t just sit around in our pajamas staring out the living room window, while everyone else is hunkered down in their cubicles. Can we?? That sounds depressing. The antidote comes to two flavors, at least for those of us who can’t sit still and have a strong desire to “be productive”:
- Find work you love at least twice as much as you hate. If it’s 50-50 or less, you’ll eventually burn to cinders.
- Quit. And move on to start that home building business, carpentry business, blogging empire, or simply walk some dogs. The world is your oyster!
- Oops. I meant three flavors. This one is this vanilla/chocolate swirl: Reduce your hours and work part-time. An ideal path for many, after a strong decade of stashing away paychecks like a bandit.
Confucius had it right. When it comes to the work-life you may despise right at this moment, consider what fragments of that world you might appreciate. The idea is to replace those things, especially the camaraderie, productivity, and feeling of belonging to a team (is that also camaraderie?) once in retirement.
I think Confucius would’ve been a fine blogger if he’d lived in the 21st century. The guy had some very applicable quotes even though they’re from 500 B. frickin’ C. A few of these nuggets apply to the topic at hand:
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
“It is not the failure of others to appreciate your abilities that should trouble you, but rather your failure to appreciate theirs.”
Holy sh*t! He’s going hard after the whiners with that last one. Yep. Time to dust-up your EQ and set that ego aside. Be a TEAM PLAYER. Okay, one more before we move on:
Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.”
In other words, keep finding better ways to do your job and live your life. Remove the waste. Maybe move closer to work, so you aren’t spending godawful amounts of time stuck in commutes. At the very least, don’t settle into to comfort zones, either at work or in your personal life. Stagnation leads to problems! (Cubert, c. 2018)
Find a Job You Love (Sustainable Love!)
Don’t forget to take stock in the good things your day job offers. It’s not prison after all.
When in retirement, after the immediate magic of that never-ending vacation wears off, you might start to itch for some of the practical jokes, coffee breaks, or stretch goals mentioned in that top 10 list earlier. Camaraderie, commiseration, and free cake is worth more than maybe we consider while plotting and scheming our early retirement exits.
My new personal nut to crack is to resolve these things before I hang up the day job. This past weekend plus a sick day on Monday was a reminder of how ill-prepared I am to hunker down at the house during the wintertime, without a job to go to. Crazy how this author suddenly has reservations about a world without the cubicle.