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“It’s called ‘work’ for a reason” is what I was always told

November 5, 2007

I was wondering about this the other day: How many people in their twenties really like their jobs? I certainly don’t love mine. I enjoy most of the people I work with sure, and I can tolerate the work. I know my company is doing things that I would like to be a part of, but in the short term that isn’t realistic. I get compensated fairly for my overall level of effort. But do I enjoy what I do on a day to day basis? That’s a different question. I certainly don’t miss being at work when I’m not here.

Is this just a matter of me not having the experience to do anything I will really enjoy? Or will I just never completely enjoy my job as long as it means surrendering my days to someone else? A famous study tracked the career motives and results of a group of B-school graduates for twenty years:

From the beginning, the graduates were grouped into two categories. Category A consisted of people who said they wanted to make money first so that they could do what they really wanted to do later—after they had taken care of their financial concerns. Those in category B pursued their true interests first, sure that money eventually would follow. What percentage fell into each category?

Of the 1,500 graduates in the survey, the money-now category A’s comprised 93 percent, or 1,245 people. Category B risk takers made up 17 percent, or 255 graduates.

After twenty years there were 101 millionaires in the group. One came from category A, 100 from category B.

So does this mean we should all drop what we are doing and go chase that dream job? The study shows correlation, not causation, but the magnitude of the differences between the two groups at the end suggests more. Maybe the people in Group B were generally more driven and would have succeeded no matter what? In general though, the obvious fact this illustrates is that when you like what you do, you will work harder and be more successful than when you don’t enjoy your work.

I guess now the trick is finding what you enjoy, and then making that initial jump. I would bet that at the beginning, the average salary in Group B was significantly less than in Group A.

Also, my enjoyment of my current project is set to go down a little. I was previously sitting in a room with two other contractors in their 20’s, away from most government people. I just got moved into a room with a bunch of government people who are itching to dump their work on someone else. I’m trying to stay positive about this until I see how it pans out, but all signs point to a drop in my quality of living at work.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 5, 2007 10:55 am

    Very insightful article. Work, for many people, is a pre-occupation that they are occupied with as they wait for their true occupation. Some school’s of thoughts refer to the idea of finding a calling as opposed to a career.

  2. andy permalink*
    November 5, 2007 1:29 pm

    The only fun jobs are incredibly competitive, and if you don’t produce you are cut loose pretty quickly (pro sports anyone?)

    When somewhere “cool” like The Onion posts a job opening, how many resumes do you think they get? Even if you’re qualified, you may go unnoticed. Or screw up the interview.

    Simply put, the chances of landing a job doing something you love that has decent to good monetary compensation are so abysmally low that most people just don’t bother. And frankly most people just can’t afford it, or they’re not willing to go into serious debt chasing the off chance that they land that dream job.

  3. marino permalink
    November 5, 2007 2:38 pm

    i for one enjoy soul crushing monotony and working under complete imbeciles.

    although if KU offered me a job cleaning up the trail of crumbs and debris left in Mark Mangino’s wake, i’d have to seriously consider it.

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