According to Gallup, the company known for studies, 34% of Americans feel engaged in their jobs. What’s even crazier than this percentage is that this number is high compared to previous years, but in the same neighborhood of where engagement hovers. We tend to stay around one of three feels engaged in their jobs.
That’s a lot of people who’re spending the best hours of their days unengaged in their work. If you consider that the work we do is most of our waking hours, then you could argue that 66% of us feel unengaged in our lives. We’re lost without a map.
Behind those numbers is a ton of data. We would be irresponsible not to ask if there is a better way. What we’re doing doesn’t seem to be successful, not by any definition of success.
Showing up someplace you don’t want to be, doing something you don’t want to do, all while hoping for something to change for the better is not grounded thinking. A plan to work away the best hours of your life in hopes that you can one day buy the life you want to live might warrant professional counseling.
If this is you, you have to make a change. You would be better off to discover your obsession, then run after it like nobody can stop you.
The most popular definition of crazy isn’t a real definition of insanity. If you ask most people what’s crazy, they’ll tell you doing the same thing over and over, hoping for different results.
That may be nuts, but I think most psych experts would raise their hand in objection at the definition. Perhaps a more honest word to go with that definition is… not-bright. It’s not very bright to do the same thing over and over expecting different results.
So, crazy or not-too-bright, if you’re showing up to the same job day after day miserable, but hope that something different will happen, then you can decide what name you want to call yourself.
In any case, it doesn’t seem to be working for anything but paying your bills. For many people, it’s barely doing that.
Working for retirement
“I wish I spent more of my life toiling at my unhappy job.” -Nobody on their deathbed ever
The unspoken plan for many who do this showing up to jobs where they don’t engage in their work is, they believe that someday they will buy their way out of that situation.
Worst case scenario, at some point in the future, one can retire. You can pine for early retirement, but that’s an exception. Most will not retire until the bulk of their years are in the rearview mirror. By then, our bodies have started to betray us, in some cases our minds.
Setting out to climb the Andes, tour the cobbled streets of Europe or worse, traverse the unpaved roads of developing countries is harder by then. The best years for doing those things have passed.
There is no jump back button on life. If by the time you retire, you realize you’ve spent your life doing something you didn’t enjoy, you’ll be selling yourself a lie about how you actually did enjoy your work.
It’s either that or you will be saddest person in retirement ever. Rather than work towards your retirement, find work you would do until the day they shove you in the coffin.
New plan: never retire.
Discovering Your Obsession
Not everybody knows what they want to do with their life. I would argue that those who know their destiny from an early age, are the rare birds of this world. (They also might be lying to themselves.)
Most of us have many interests. Especially in our world of pocket encyclopedias (you call them smartphones), people can afford to pursue many interests. Sorting through those interests to pick one that as your “forever” is depressing.
Don’t ask me what I want to do with my life. I don’t know. That said, I know what I fill my time with when there is nothing to do. I read and I write. I’ve never been passionate about writing. I just do it, all the time. If I have free time, I read. Becoming a writer is not my passion, it’s my obsession.
The trick for me was finding where I fit in the spectrum of jobs that require writing skills. There are many. In your life, your obsession may be playing video games or searching the internet, Maybe it’s building things with wood.
There are an endless number of jobs surrounding the creation and sale of video games. You don’t have to write code, but you could. Researchers, the sort of people who spend time online following leads, are people in demand. People who work with wood build homes, design and build cabinets, make boats, and more.
Be Open To Change
Accept that what you obsess over today may change by tomorrow. Be okay with changing your path. The people who walk many paths in life are the most interesting people to know.
Over time they find their growing list of experiences affords them the ability to do many things. They are less dependent on others, more adaptable to change.
They can find ways to relate to more people, more situations. They are more well-rounded people. These are the people who really take huge chunks out of life.
People who chase many obsessions are the people with whom we love to spend time. They have so many stories. They’ve walked in so many shoes.
Are you crazy if you show up to you job tomorrow if you hate it? Maybe, but maybe it’s pragmatic. You have to put food on the table, for now.
If you make no moves towards discovering what it is you do when you have free time, then maybe I’ll call you crazy. The better word is, lost. Don’t stay there. It’s time to make your own map.