Sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer (mantra: “People hate to be sold, but they love to buy!) is a public speaker, author, and all-around maven on the topic of sales and sales management. Not surprisingly, he’s also a relentless self-promoter. I subscribed to his Sales Caffeine e-zine because it’s full of short articles on a variety of topics, and long on personality.
Today’s caffeine jolt has a though-provoking article about job burnout. His question: “Are you burned out, or just hating it?”
Wow. Jeff’s right. About 90% of the burn-out advice out there is how to make your job work for you. Don’t work such long hours, stay above the office politics, find the creativity in your stressful routine. Even his own advice veers into that category: minimizing the bad so you can maximize the good. (Insert plug here for his Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude)
The truth is that day in and day out, we cast our vote about what’s important to us by what we do. At work, at the gym, with our families, at the movies: we make choices. And as Jeff points out, if you hate your job but you stay anyway, what does that mean? It may mean that you need the income and it’s going to take you a lot of work and a lot of effort to transition from Job A (which you hate) to Job B (which will energize and fulfill you). That’s real life.
Or maybe you’re doing something that you thought would be easier. Or you’re comparing yourself to others. Perhaps you need an attitude adjustment! Author and musician Keith Cronin, in Writer Unboxed, tells this story:
I remember whining to my mom many years ago about how hard my life was as a musician. I went on and on, listing in detail all the trials and tribulations I had to go through in pursuit of my art. All the hardships. All the unfairness. All the sacrifices. At some point in my monologue, Mom finally cut me off, with one simple sentence: “Keith,” she said, ”nobody ever asked you to do this.“
My point: it’s wonderful to have choices.
Most jobs aren’t delightful all the time, nor are they horrible all the time. Stress and burnout in the workplace are common, and the negative impact should not be minimized. Still, the ability to pursue self-actualization – that very high level of personal fulfillment – through your career is a gift, not a right. The factory worker who can’t find another job after the plant closes, the new grad with a $10/hour “internship,” the single mom working three low-wage, part-time jobs to make ends meet: these are among the multitude who have no choice.
So cherish your ability to choose.