Upon hearing that comment, one of my friends who also hails from a 3rd world country scoffed, “Oh, 1st world problems!!”
It got me thinking about this whole topic of job fulfillment especially now that I’m at a point of my life where I’m sending out job applications.
The average person spends 40 hours working per week for 40 years. That’s a lot of time being disengaged if you don’t get fulfillment from your job. And I can identify disengagement only because I totally know what engagement — or flow — is: to actually give a topic your focus for so long you lose the sense of time.
The reason my friend scoffed at job fulfillment being a 1st world problem is because in 3rd world countries many people operate at the lower level of Maslow’s triangle of needs, the level that focuses on food and having a roof over your head. Job fulfillment exists higher up the hierarchy.
And though I’m not going to be talking from a pedestal because I admit I’ve been privileged my whole life, and it’s true that situations are tough in 3rd world countries. But here’s the thing I’ve noticed from interacting with my people in Mombasa:
People value materialism more than job satisfaction. You’ll see someone who’s miserable in their job, and wouldn’t even attempt to take a different job that pays lower and gives more satisfaction only because they have to keep up with appearances and standard of living. And I would understand if this sort of materialism makes them happy. It makes other people — who are not dependents — happy about them, and that’s crazy!!!!
If the other people were a spouse and children, I would understand the sacrifice they’re making; they value the happiness and well-being over their own happiness. But when the people you’re trying to please are the neighbors and people in society who’ll be the first to kick you if you fall….
And there are times when I don’t blame them. My own father thought I was crazy when I told him I was quitting a job for one that paid 1/3rd the pay. It’s been 7 years since I quit and I still don’t make my previous paycheck, but that’s okay, because I’m engaged in activities I love.
But there are times when I think; if you spend so much time at a job that you hate, and it chips away your basic values so you don’t even recognize who you are in the mirror, then maybe — just maybe — you need to make some changes?
I continuously mention this in my posts, your changes need not be drastic. Don’t quit your job right away, move to Thailand and live off the internet.
Start with introducing a side-hustle into your current life and even if it doesn’t pay, the passion from that will overflow to your life and it will make you feel better. But understand that there’s a price for everything. The price for side-hustling alongside a job is you’re not going to have much of a social life.
I’m personally grateful that for me, the job became so unbearable I had to make a change. It was either me or my mental health and that was a no-brainer.
There’s something I used to call Pre-Resignation Syndrome (PRS) which I started to identify in employees before they left (or lost) their jobs,
- Chronic procrastination about everything that needs to be done
- Complaining loudly about every small thing that happens around the office
- Tiniest sniffle makes you go on sick leave, which results in multiple sick leaves per month (This is actually the main one)
- Not taking on any more responsibility than you’re legally obliged to. Being stubborn and rude to the boss (basically challenging them to fire you).
I had more on this list but I can’t think of it right now because it’s been 7 years since I was properly employed. But the point is, if you’re suffering from PRS then things need to change, and things need to change fast because if you don’t take control, guess what?
Someone else would, and that happened with someone really close to me. He was experiencing PRS symptoms, and then one day he got called into the office (because he was on one of those endless sick leaves), and got terminated. His life went into a whirlwind after that.
So I’m writing this because it’s a heartfelt appeal to you and -myself — to never compromise your values for a paycheck. Take control of your career, and your life.
I heard somewhere about how there are many levels of jobs in the world;
- Level 1; job that pays
- Level 2; job that pays that you’re also good at
- Level 3; job that pays that you’re also good at and you’re passionate about
- Level 4; (all of the above) + ONLY YOU CAN DO
Why “only you can do”? Because your work is a function of the person that you are, and as I always say, you’re the triple integral of your values, experiences and social conditioning. The moment you brand your work and people only see you in the work, that’s when you know you’ve reached level 4, but you have to work up from level 1.
I know this is a long rant, and I’ll probably edit it properly at some point for my blog, but I hope before that it resonates with people and you stop wasting time trying to fit in and please society. Be brave, and start something you’ve always wanted to but were always too afraid.
But again, do not quit your job!
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Originally published at medium.com