Someone else’s drudgery might be your dream job

A job that someone else might consider a shallow waste of time might be your best place for this moment in time.  A job that you find shallow might develop hidden depths as you think about it.

Anyone in the working world has experience with grindingly boring jobs.  Some of us have always had satisfying, fulfilling work but we have witnessed boring jobs.  Okay, now the rest of us (99.999%) have had one or more boring, unfulfilling jobs.

The strangest thing is, I’ve learned that kinds of work I’ve heard others complain endlessly about, and haven’t expected to like, are actually boatloads of fun for me!

For example, I pretty much always thought I wanted to be an artist or designer for a living.  However, I didn’t know what that meant.  I’m not good at being creative each and every day, and I’m not always the best with deadlines.  Also, I hate selling so I’m not the world’s most amazing self promoter.  I recognize these things about myself and I’m okay with that.  I know what I need to work on.

I thought that data entry could be about the most mind numbing job imaginable.  Call center work was scariest and most horrible, but data entry had to be the most boring.  Fast forward quite a few years and I find that call center work is actually pretty fulfilling if you work inbound lines, and I just took a job as a claims analyst that involves a lot of data entry.  Yet, it’s great!  It’s like doing a hundred puzzles a day and it’s always new and fresh!  I never would have found this out if I’d clung to my old ideas about the perfect job.

The moral of that story is to stay in tune with the kinds of work you like, and your personal strengths, so you know what you’ll actually be a good match for.  That way you won’t take the job that everyone else wants but you might hate.  Here’s an example.  I thought I wanted to be a trainer at a call center.  I thought it would be great – I’d be off the phones, I could share my experience and help mold my students into great reps, and oh, did I mention I’d be off the phones?  Once I knew more about the position I realized I’d be going slowly crazy there.  A job where I was assisting other reps on the phone as they asked me questions about product and navigation was a whole lot better for me.

What if you hate your current job and can’t get out of it?

Been there, done that, got the lame corporate T-shirt.  I’m not sure what you should do in your situation but here is what I’ve done to make it easier on myself.

See the humor in the situation.  There’s something funny about everything, even if all you do is sort frozen fish on a  conveyor belt and throw out the green ones.  How funny is a green fish?

Find the places where you make a difference.  In my dull customer service jobs, one thing that’s kept me going is knowing I was making a difference in many people’s lives.  Even if I was just telling them why their pills were going to be late.  At least I could give them one more positive interaction than they would have had.

Find ways your current job can build your skills.  I would sometimes take on extra work or do extra training if I knew it would develop me.  This has gotten me into better and better jobs.

Always look for opportunities.  You won’t see them if your eyes are closed.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/shallow/

The Nitty Gritty – Life Lessons from my job

I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve started a new office/customer service job it seems like the training is half pablum, half semi/useful stuff, full of platitudes and not really of lasting use to anyone.  Not so with this new job, the one I talked about getting a month or so ago.

I started training this week and have been really impressed with the company.  Today I had a course in cooperative communication, and another in appreciating diversity.  Usually those are prime candidates for the Useless List.  This time, though, I was shocked!  I actually learned some things, and was reminded of useful advice I’ve heard before but don’t put in practice often enough.  I came away from the training inspired, not bored.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned, hopefully they’ll help you too.

“Be responsible for your actions.”  More people need to do this.  Being responsible isn’t being accountable to a higher authority, it’s recognizing what the right thing to do is, because it’s the right thing, then doing it.  I need to do this more too.

“Stay Positive.”  This is practically the watchword of the classroom I’m in, and the instructor reminded us on the first day that our jobs will be much more fun if we do this.  The material, though difficult, will also be easier to learn.  I agree with her 100% and want to do this more in my private life as well.

“Don’t focus your attention on your intention, but on the impact of your actions.”  I love this at the same time as I am infuriated by this.  It’s so easy to say “but I only meant to…” when a mistake has been made.  However, no matter what I might think, the effect of my actions is exactly the same no matter what I meant.  Focusing on the impact puts my attention where it needs to be to learn from what happened and do better next time.

“Be creative and flexible in your interactions.”  This was great because it reminded me that different people have different styles of interaction, so if you are flexible, you can get the most out of every meeting, be it casual or professional.

“To err is human, but to take responsibility for your part is professional.”   I love this.  It allows that mistakes can happen, but demonstrates a behavior that is the first step in the path to making amends and fixing the situation.

“The power of the pause.”   This is the best of all the tips, really, because it’s the one that lets you follow them.  Taking that extra second after you might have said or done something wrong, or someone else did, can be all the difference between a reasonable response and an unfortunate one.

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/grit/

Take up your quill and write your own destiny

I’m approximately halfway through my life, given current longevity rates for a person in my socioeconomic situation.  It’s causing me to see that I will never do the things I want to do unless I make them happen.  I can’t afford to wait, it’s time to decide what things I want to take the time to be good at.  Also, what things I want to do, and how to get there.  Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

Growing up, I didn’t have much variety of music to listen to.  We had a few cassette tapes of folk music.  We didn’t go out and buy albums.  We didn’t have Mp3s to download, and I didn’t listen to the radio because I took the bus everywhere.  Listening to music on the internet was a total revelation to me when I went to college, but I didn’t do it much because music wasn’t really a huge part of my life.

Fast forward to meeting my wife.  She is a metal head.  I didn’t like it at first.  Gradually I started to and now power metal is my favorite genre.  For a long time I had a recurring dream about playing the guitar but I never did anything about it.

Tonight I got to hang out at a friend’s studio.  He’s been playing electric guitar for 38 years and wow, he’s good!  I haven’t listened to much live music so this was a real revelation.  The music touched me as never before.  I even liked the songs I normally wouldn’t like, as the sound enfolded me and stirred my deepest nerve endings.  I found myself totally comfortable in the studio.  I liked the smell of the air, the look of the equipment.  I didn’t feel out of place like I have in other musical venues.  It felt… right.  In fact, I was inspired to do a painting, which I’ll start tomorrow.

This reminded me of my dream of playing the guitar.  Perhaps, I thought, I could start playing one!  Time’s wasting, there are fewer days ahead than there are behind.  I can find a cheap used guitar to start with, and look at lessons on YouTube.  I can practice with headphones on so I don’t even bother the neighbors.  The point is, if I want to do this, I can make it happen by taking the first step, and then the next, and then the next.  I can have my dreams if I go about it in a sensible way.  As my guitar player friend said, “you have to decide you’ve already done it and then just get started.”

Is there a dream you’ve had that’s like this?  How might you write your own life story?

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/quill/

The greatest paper I’ve read this month

Okay, it’s metaphorical paper – the endless scroll that is a webpage.  Yet, I’m actually tempted to print this one out.  I found it thought provoking, refreshingly non-partisan, and eminently useful.  It’s a graphic discussion of core beliefs and how we learn, done by one of my favorite cartoonists.  Just click to follow – there’s a safe for work, and a not safe for work option!

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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/paper/

 

 

 

Message in a Bottle

If you could write a message in a bottle to your former self, what would it be?

For the longest time, I didn’t have a clue.

Now, I know what I’d write to myself when I was in high school or early college.

I’d tell myself to find some career mentoring.  I’d also remind myself to take very good care of my teeth – those things are incredibly expensive to fix!  And I’d tell myself very gently that all this time I was spending in artistic pursuits wouldn’t mean anything if I didn’t push myself to actually improve.  I’d tell myself to get into weight lifting and a high protein diet when I went to college, and spend more time in STEM classes even if it meant getting a tutor.  Last of all, I’d remind myself that clearcut goals would let me go very far, instead of paddling around in low wage jobs for years after I got out.

I’d have quite a few things to say if I could throw a message to my former self.  Maybe she’d even read them and listen.  Who knows?

Now, here’s the more interesting question.  If you could write a message in a bottle to your future self, what would it be?  Put another way, imagine your future self.  What things would they have wanted you to know now?

Everything we do right now is a message to our future self.  How much care we take of ourself, how much money we save, how much we learn every day, what we do in our spare time, everything.

It can be useful and even fun to think about the future self we are creating at this very moment.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/bottle/

Fear, Cliffs and Precipices

I’ve been scared of heights my entire life.

Mostly cliffs and steep stairways, steep hills, things like that.  It makes my knees go all watery when I look at pictures of that city in China, the one that’s all built on a cliffside and is nothing but dizzying views of the valley floor, far, far below.

It even makes me nervous to look at rock climbers when they are dangling from some difficult rock face.

At a writer’s retreat, I wrote the following passage:

What is it like, not to be afraid? I’ve never known. Among the planar ferns, carpeted with dew- bedazzled moss and roofed with maple clerestory, I’m fine. Or, watching mist-silvered ripples run cross mossy swells of granite. Or ranging mile on mile through fir and cedar pillars, hot pitch perfume rising to my nose. It’s easy to forget when things are comfortable.

But venturing along a cliffside trail, or threading a narrow planken bridge, I’m liable to turn… and there it is, a grinning vista. My blood runs icy as a spring when I contemplate infinity. Far peaks turn into fangs to bite me, friendly lake a vat to drown me, lovely trees just claws to catch.

“How lovely,” I hear from far away. “How picturesque!” For my best appreciation, it should stay in the picture. Caught between cliff and hill it’s all too easy to feel the footing fail, the world tilt askew and the mountain come tumbling on my bare head. Here, imagination turns from friend to foe. A stout stick and a will of unworked sponge-iron are my only defenses. Step by halting step I head for home.

I’d like to be able to stand atop a cliff or mountain, and not know what that fear meant. Not feel my heart slam against cage of ribs, not have my legs turn to egg noodle paste, not taste imminent death on the wind.

Until then, isn’t this fungus under the emerald-blanketed log a thing of beauty? And do you mind if I stay on my knees?

 

Anyone with a phobia can probably relate.   There’s a way through that terror.  The way is to remember that fear is a paper tiger.  If you realize that it can’t truly control you, and you face it and move through it, fear dissolves.  I have not been entirely successful yet.  However, whenever I truly practice this, I beat back fear.

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Precipice

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/precipice/

Two Weeks to Resignation – and a new Lifestyle

Some say your life flashes before your eyes when you are about to die. I don’t know if that’s true, but as my time of resigning draws nearer, little memories of this job keep coming up. That time my coworkers did something sweet, or something funny a team lead said. Little things. How hopeful I was when I was hired, how happy I was to have a job. My frustrations with upper management. Things I’ve learned, both large and small. My ecstasy when I saw a friend come back who nearly died twice, my overflowing joy as I hugged him back into the fold.

This hasn’t been an easy decision. I’ve weighed so many different factors. Distance from home, atmosphere, opportunities for advancement, pay, friendships. I’ve been thinking about it for months. When I finally was offered a good position, I thought it might vanish away like smoke. I even dreamed about it. Yet, it was real, and now only two weeks away. I find myself clearing up loose ends, planning my end. I clean up my work station, decide what saved information I’ll bequeath to my friends, decide where my locker loot will go. It’s like a death. I think I’ll bake something for my friends, including bringing something for the diabetics, to show them how much they’ve meant to me. I’ve spent a lot of time here, after all, and sometimes they feel like a second family.

As I tell people of my decision, they are happy for me but sad to see me go. I feel the same. I will miss so many people. Even though I feel anger at injustice from on high, still I’ve had so many intangible gifts. I tell each person with warmth and regret. I wish management could have improved things, if they had, I would have stayed. But their goals are my goals and mine are mine, and it’s time to go. I intend to make these last days good ones, working hard to serve my callers and train those who will follow me.

I know that someday my memories of this place will fade, I’ll learn new halls and doorways, and new faces will start looking like my family. I’ll be over the rocky ridge and back again in familiar country, but it’s going to take a bit of walking across barren ground, looking for landmarks. For me, nearly seven and a half years is a long time, the longest time I’ve worked in one place.

On my last day I’ll leave with head held high, wishing well to all I leave behind. Right now, I am trying to leave a legacy of helpfulness and good will. And there are two weeks to go.

 

Postscript:

There was another, somewhat unexpected fruit to that job – inspiration for my book, How to P!ss Off the Customers, which will be made into a second edition soon.  It’s a lighthearted look at the perils of working Customer Service, and available for sale on my Books page. 

 

via Daily Prompt: Lifestyle

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/lifestyle/