Can we all realistically expect to love our jobs?

Can we all realistically expect to love our jobs?Modified from CC image, original by Flickr user Andi Licious

It is a great thing to work in the creative industries. While it has its downsides (see my post on this at Budget and the Beach) for me the positives continue to weigh in its favour. I’ve always worked with amazing, talented and pleasant people. I’ve always had reasonably fulfilling, autonomous work.  This is genuinely what I a) love and b) am good at.

But we don’t all have this first world luxury, and quite frankly, I don’t think it’s anywhere near possible. The numbers don’t stack up. The work that makes the world go round isn’t generally bursting with the fun factor – banking, freight, insurance, food production, retail, farming, tech support, cleaning. No doubt there are specific roles within those sectors that lend themselves to passion, but by and large the stuff we need to keep the cogs turning is fairly dull stuff. And passion jobs often require sacrifices in almost every other aspect aside from enjoyment/satisfaction – compensation, hours, work-life balance, etc.

If what you’re doing isn’t lighting your fire – and you have the option of walking away – at what point do you quit? A friend once told me about a fellow med student who dropped out after five years (one more and he would have qualified). Another person I know pulled out of a Big 4 graduate programme just a few months in after realising it was not the life for her. From the outside, it seems a waste to walk away after putting in years to get to that stage.

What price happiness?

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26 thoughts on “Can we all realistically expect to love our jobs?

  • Reply Manda January 25, 2013 at 08:31

    I’m lucky in that I love what I do and am really happy with my job. I can’t really weigh in on a drastic career change as I’m still at entry-level and don’t have the personal experience to speak to that. But I did change my major my first semester in college because I wasn’t happy with my original choice. It’s easy enough to do that in my first semester ever of college, but what if it had been two, three years into my four-year degree? Would it have been worth changing to an entirely different field, especially if it meant delaying graduation (and therefore making my degree most costly)? It’s impossible to tell when it’s the best time to cut your losses and run. I guess the only way of doing it is going with your gut and hoping for the best.

  • Reply Girl Meets Debt January 25, 2013 at 08:33

    From a typical Gen Y prespective, I don’t LOVE my current job but I do genuinely LIKE it, so that’s good enough for me for now…

  • Reply MissAmanda January 25, 2013 at 08:56

    In the last few months (especially weeks) it’s become blatantly obvious to me that I no longer love my job, or even like it for that matter. Time for a new one 🙂

  • Reply Michelle January 25, 2013 at 09:04

    This is something that I think about all the time. It pretty much eats away at me.

  • Reply Amber January 25, 2013 at 09:09

    I can honestly say that I love my job. LOVE IT. But it’s still work. There are still days I want to rip my hair out and coworkers annoy me and I get caught up in thinking about money and how I could get paid more working in the for profit world. But that all being said I really really love what I do, rarely dread coming to work and get a lot of fulfillment out of it, so I think I’m definitely a lot better off than many people.

  • Reply Linda January 25, 2013 at 09:55

    I visited a career counselor a couple years ago and presented him with the details of my job and my frustrations. He told me that it seemed I was in a golden prison. He is spot on. I get very little enjoyment out of my job anymore and there are times that I feel like simply telling everyone to take a flying leap and walking away from it. But, I am a grown up. I need money to live and I am paid a very, very good salary. I am saving for my retirement, building equity in my home, paying all my bills, and still have money left over to save for emergencies, treat myself to excellent meals, and take myself on fabulous vacations. I don’t want to give that up. I also realize that my bosses or coworkers or place of employment is not responsible for my happiness, although they may value me enough to work with me on some of the things that are exceeding my coping threshold. So, I’m trying to make my work work for me. Some days I do better than others.

  • Reply krantcents January 25, 2013 at 10:10

    I love my job (teacher), but I don’t love 100% of it. I do not think there is ever the perfect job all the time, but it should be over 50%.

    • Reply Two Degrees January 9, 2014 at 08:41

      I totally agree. There are days as a teacher that drives me mad. I go through periods in which I want to quit my job, but on the whole, it is appropriate challenging for me.

  • Reply Newlyweds on a Budget January 25, 2013 at 10:49

    I LIKE my job and I think that’s enough. There are some days where I want to punch people in the face, but MOST of the time, I am very content. My dream job involves traveling the world with my husband on someone else’s dime, eating the fare and sipping mai tais. But I heard Anthony Bourdain took that job. So here I am

  • Reply SavvyFinancialLatina January 25, 2013 at 10:52

    I don’t love my job. I like it, but it’s hard to feel passionate about working at a corporation at my level.

    I’m paid well, I am in a good team, and I’m just starting out with my career. I thought it would be different working for a corporation. I haven’t made up my mind yet.

  • Reply Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies January 25, 2013 at 14:23

    It depends on the day how I feel about my job. But a few more years, and we should be set freedom-wise, as long as we don’t have any major set-backs between now and then. So, I can suck it up and deal with the bad days for now.

  • Reply Ian January 25, 2013 at 16:12

    I’m in that in between area that a lot of folks seem to be in. Some days its great and some days not so much. I enjoy the people I work with and my benefits are great but pay could be better. I still play in a band with my best friends and that gets to be my creative outlet. It pays even less than my job:-)

  • Reply Pauline January 25, 2013 at 18:56

    I never loved a job for the work I was doing. I loved being around nice people sometimes, or the perks that came with the job, or the location, etc. and would quit as soon as my financial situation would allow. Taking 5 years to realize a 6 year degree is not for you is another story, I would have gone through because it was a waste of time and money and the skills can be useful anyway. A doctor can be a medical marketing expert, or work in an NGO, it is not all set and determined by your degree.

  • Reply Friday recap, the city life and a root canal January 25, 2013 at 19:48

    […] Can we all realistically expect to love our jobs? at NZ muse […]

  • Reply Funny about Money January 26, 2013 at 03:27

    I’ve loved jobs and hated them, over the years. And I’ve also had a job that I loved when I started but was sick of after five years. Sometimes it’s just time to move along.

    The elaborate professional and graduate degrees can be terribly frustrating, especially when you realize you’re never going to earn more than you would have without the job. The guy going to medical school, though…that’s extreme. But there is a point where you realize if something is making you crazy, you need to quit.

    In the Ph.D. program, though, the mantra for all of us was “I’ve come this far…I can’t quit now.” That kind of thinking was about the only way anyone could get through it all.

    Friends who quit the Ph.D. program at the master’s level did better sooner than those of us who plodded all the way through to the degree and then found ourselves looking at low-paid assistant professorships or no-future adjunct positions. One guy went to work for Peter Bogdonavich and ended up a VP of MGM. One got a teaching certificate and went to work teaching high school; couldn’t ever have earned much, but at least he had a job that earned a living wage, which was better than many of us did. Two quit the program and went to law school; one of those ended up in a very interesting practice: immigration law, catering to wealthy Asian businessmen. I went to work in magazine publishing, where I had a heckuva lot of fun and absolutely, positively did not need either the master’s or the doctorate — but on one job the Ph.D. did command a little higher pay, for no good reason that I could see.

  • Reply Revanche January 26, 2013 at 08:26

    I met a therapist many years ago who said: Some people are happy working because it funds the things they actually love. They don’t need their job itself to be the thing that makes them happy.
    And at the time, I thought: I have no idea what that looks like. I could not even imagine it.
    So that wasn’t for me because I’ve always have career ambitions in that I wanted to make something of myself via my career, not through having a family or anything else. My job wouldn’t define me but it would be integral to how I defined success. Also: it didn’t matter what I was doing through the past 10 years, I’ve enjoyed the act of working and whatever I could accomplish or learn that day. So I’m happy(ish) with where I am and what I’m doing right now but I know I will want more eventually. That’s normal for me.
    The funny thing was, PiC turned out to be one of those people. He moderately enjoys his job for what it is but he doesn’t love it and he doesn’t care that much about turning it into the perfect job or finding the perfect job. He’s paid decently, he’ll climb if he can, but primarily the job is to pay for his pursuits that he IS passionate about. Opposites attract indeed 🙂

  • Reply Well Heeled Blog January 27, 2013 at 05:00

    I’ve decided that I want a happy LIFE, and I want a job that will enable me to have that life. I want to enjoy my job, find some kind of meaningful in it, learn from it, have travel opportunities, and be adequately compensated, but I also don’t expect to burst with unadulterated joy at having to get up every Monday morning.

  • Reply Budget & the Beach January 27, 2013 at 06:00

    I’ve never LOVED my job, but I’ve had a lot of contentment with it over the years. I tried changing my career to a life coach two years ago but the cost of school and starting over were too great. It does make me think if I ever could go back to when I was in college and pick something new, what would it be?

  • Reply CF January 28, 2013 at 17:23

    I never thought that I would have a job that I loved, mainly because the things I am super interested in (art, writing, creativity) do not lend themselves well to building wealth. That’s one of the main reasons I went back for a different career – I wanted something well paying. However, I surprised myself with my current job – there is a lot of creativity, a lot of hard work, and a lot of pride in what I do now. I’m not 100% in love with my job in the sense that I would choose to work over not working, but I think I can honestly say that I love my job.

  • Reply Kelly Abroad January 28, 2013 at 19:38

    Good question. I’ve worked in hospitality my whole life, more recently in the past few years at a management level which I find is more challenging, more fulfilling, invites learning opportunities and earns a better wage. But it’s not what I want to do with my life. I have a degree in journalism and hope one day to write for a magazine. I’ve just had two weeks work experience at a newspaper and I really, really disliked it. I hated working in an office with no windows, I hated the lack of banter between colleagues and I hated having to report to work at 8am even though I had my weekends free which is a total anomaly in the hospitality industry. I couldn’t help but pine for the good old restaurant days and that really scared me.

  • Reply Luca January 28, 2013 at 22:38

    As some may know that is a topic I think about quite regularly. I met people from various industries that were really convincing in telling me how much they loved their jobs. But I also met others who worked in the same industries and they hated what they did. I was unable to find a common theme what made people love their jobs. Everyones intrinsic motivation is different. Even some people who were passionate about their jobs changed their opinion over time. I am one of them. It took me three years to realize that my job at a creative agency sucked. I was still at university when I started and the team comforted me a lot, they gave me the feeling that I learned something every day and that better times are coming soon. In reality it was mostly stupid bad payed work. And most of my time was simply unpaid. They even told me that I would become an owner if I did well after a year. Bullshit. I was naive. And because I believed much of the stuff I would say that I loved the job at that time. In retrospective it hurts me most how blind I was. And that I see things now different is my best argument that the time there isn’t completely lost.

    I need 12 ECTS (about 3 written tests) and one paper to get my degree. I joined a startup one year before everything was finished and lost interest. I knew before that the University was broken. I didn’t like how they expected us to learn. The peak was reached when we occupied the University. I still want to finish the degree one day. But not now. And I don’t expect to ever have a job where I would need it. People hired me in the past because they knew my previous work, saw me talk somewhere or read my blog.

    To be honest there are many things I have to do for the startup that I don’t even like. Some where I know that I am bad at and others that simply make me feel uncomfortable. But they need to get done. My main motivation is the vision. I built the startup mostly because I would love to use it. I had similar arrangements in the past. I get a well defined task via Mail, fullfil it and get paid. But the inbound wasn’t high enough and I don’t like to sell. I also know many people who don’t enjoy presenting themselves, blogging, networking and similar stuff. They still deliver great results. I want to create a place where they can do this.

    In my ideal world people decide how much they want to work each day, each week. I am also a supporter of the basic income but that’s a different story. I believe that there is always enough work and that a global market on a deeper level (project/tasks) will help distribute it more evenly.

    I enjoy some work. But I also enjoy doing stuff that doesn’t has direct value to others and therefore isn’t paid by anyone.

  • Reply Lorillia|Your Money Mentor February 16, 2013 at 06:19

    There are many people are unhappy with their jobs or career and do not do anything about it. Many people who have jobs that they might not like tend to stay with that particular company for various reasons. At the end of the day just because you have a job that pays the bills does not mean you are satisfied. So many of us continue to going to that dreaded job that we hate.
    I do not like my job, because my Boss keep always angry with me!!! I am trying to do what my heart says…
    Thanks eemusings for sharing.

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