February 26

How to enjoy your life and your job

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Introduction

So… you want to enjoy your life and your job. It’s not easy, right? After all, a job brings all the pressures of needing to perform, meet targets, and colleagues who may be speaking behind your back.

And then there’s all the complexities of human life – caring for your children, supporting yourself, and doing things you don’t like (like clearing out the hair in the clogged shower… doesn’t it make you wince just thinking about it?)

Since leaving my full-time job (despite having not much money) in October 2021, and all the security that brought – a salary (even if you were at home napping), medical benefits, retirement benefits, it’s been a difficult time.

Not personally. But with my loved ones.

A family member has taken to sending me job advertisements even though I’ve told him on several times that it’s not helpful. I’ve ended up creating a filter in my email so that it automatically reroutes that into a folder I don’t see.

You may wonder why I’m sharing this story and how this relates to enjoying your life and your job. I did something important there.

I removed something that I didn’t like. That didn’t make me feel good.

And that’s the approach I’m going to recommend you take to find enjoyment in your life.

Remove things you dislike doing

Don’t like something you have to do, either in your job or your life? Ask yourself,

Must I really do this? Can someone else do it?

You see that the things you hate, may actually be things you forced upon yourself, rather than unchanging realities of life.

Here’s an example. You may hate housework.

You force yourself to clear the hairs in the bathroom daily even though it’s not yours, and you hate it.

Get someone else to do it.

You support someone else’s livelihood, and you remove the mental drain that causes on you.

How to enjoy your life and your job
You don’t have to do the things you hate.

Remove people that make you feel bad

Some people are simply toxic. Make no mistake, because of the environments they grew up in, they may end up foisting some of their limiting beliefs onto you. I once had an auntie who would tell me about how difficult her life was even though I met her to talk about me. She wasn’t inspiring me. She was making me feel worse.

Remove such people in your life.

Every year, Rolf Dobelli, the bestselling author behind The Art of the Good Life, writes about how he goes through their contact book with his wife during New Year’s Eve. He then writes down the names of people whom they don’t wish to contact anymore.

They promptly toss it into the fire, happy to see it engulfed by flames.

Remove people who make you feel worse about yourself.

how to enjoy your life and your job
Are there people who make you feel worse about yourself? Remove them.

Do you live to work?

Enjoying your life and your job is about trying your best to answer this question,

Do you live to work, or do you work to live?

Which is of greater importance to you, your work, or your life? I can’t answer that question for you.

But here’s a thought for you.

Work is one part of life. It’s not all of life. Recognising that there’s more to life than work helps you to see that enjoying your life and your job is not about seeing them as two separate parts.

It’s about seeing them as one and the same. It’s not work or life, as if they were on two opposite ends of the spectrum.

how to enjoy your life and your job
The happiness equation by Haidt shows that happiness is not just about your work!

It’s about work and life. What does this look like practically?

It’s about designing your job so that it fits in your life. One reason why we feel so unfulfilled in our lives is that we feel that we could be so much more than the job title that we are given. Yet because of how jobs are specialised, today we are in charge of one small part of the organisation.

But if you look at the times when you were young, you probably enjoyed:

  • building a Lego house in the morning
  • being an explorer of new lands, and putting on your eyepatch
  • kicking soccer in the park

The list goes on.

In Marx’s critique of Smith’s Wealth of Nations, he writes,

in communist society, nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes…

thus it is possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner,

without ever becoming a hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.

The German Ideology (1846)

If there’s a straightforward recommendation I have for you – it’s this.

Find a job that’s generalist in nature, that allows you to do many different things at once. That’s the best way, rather than choosing a specialist job in nature.

how to enjoy your life and your job
Retrench yourself from a bad job

Conclusion

I’m aware that I didn’t give all the ways that you could enjoy your job and your life, but these are the most important ways that have helped countless others to thrive in their life and work. It’s about recognising that life and work are not dichotomous parts, on different ends of the spectrum, but they are one and the same, both sides of the same coin.

And it’s about taking the tiny actions that make that possible.


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