“I’m the type of guy, who likes to roam around.
I’m never in one place, I roam from town to town”
If there are lyrics that resonate with my work life, I think this might be in. Now, I’m not some sort of migrant vagrant. I don’t join and quit projects all willy-nilly. I pour my heart and soul into a project from inception to completion but over the course of the last year or so, I’ve started to become a little more deliberate when it comes to shutting down projects.
Over the last year I’ve launched two new ventures, personally. One of those ventures continues on today despite the fact that it’s always been something fun to do rather than a cash cow. It’s basically a chance to step out of my comfort zone, learn a great deal and honestly enjoy myself. The second project, which is no longer in operation, provided a much greater chance of financial success and was much more in line with my day-to-day interests and skills. So why did I quit?
Well, there are some private, complicated reasons but when it comes down to it, it just wasn’t fun anymore and despite what you’ve probably been told, or at least shown, through the course of your entire vocational life, work CAN actually be fun and more than that, SHOULD actually be fun. If it’s not fun, why do it?
Let me take you back a little while, about a dozen years in fact. As a university student, I held down a number of jobs. In fact, I’m incredibly proud of the fact that I was a full time student, held three jobs and was the head coach of a successful high school athletics program. The three jobs I held count not have been more different.
A few days a week, from 9am-noon, and occasionally on the weekend, I was an employee of Staples. I worked in just about every department there was except cash and learned a lot in my time with the company, which ended up being almost 5 years. It began my interest in computers as a field of work and sparked a love of really good pens.
Two weeks out of every month, from 5-9pm, I worked for the federal government via Statistics Canada. That job was about as soul sucking as it gets. I called people and made them answer questions via the only legally required survey in the country, the labour force survey. This survey is incredibly important as it helps calculate the unemployment rate for the country. In addition to being super important, nothing has ever made me quite as insane as the fact that people would argue with you for 10-15 minutes that they didn’t have time to complete a survey that took me about 30 seconds to finish.
Finally, from 9pm-2am, Wednesday through Saturday, I was the head doorman at the Split Crow Pub. People have always asked me if being a bouncer was scary or hard or if I got hit a lot or if I had to hit people a lot and the answer is; no. The really fantastic thing about the Split Crow Pub was that we were NOT bouncers. We were doormen. If someone got out of hand we would ask them to leave and if they didn’t we would move then along. In 4 years at the Crow I got hit in the face ONCE and never had to throw a punch. It was a pretty great job.
I came to a point where all three jobs became too much and I had to start thinking about what job(s) I wanted to keep. When I started to consider my next steps, I decided to think about the jobs in two distinct ways. What were the jobs worth financially and how much did I enjoy them?
Let’s start with the federal government. If you can get a government job, I’d strongly recommend it. The job paid exceptionally well. The job sucked, but it paid exceptionally well. Then there was the Split Crow. That job paid TERRIBLY. It was minimum wage and a VERY small tip-out. While there was some room to advance into a server or bartender position, the job was pretty much a dead end financially. But the job was SO much fun. It was not overly difficult but involved some manual labour (which I really enjoy) and I got to listen to great music, meet some amazing customers and work with some extraordinary people.
In the seesaw of money vs. fun, these two jobs were essentially equal. The highs of financial security met the lows of job satisfaction with the federal government while fun times met terrible salary with the bar. And then, there was Staples.
Staples was not a particularly fun job. Aside from changing my name tag so that it read General Manager and wearing boxes on my head from time to time, it kind of sucked. Luckily, it paid a little bit more than minimum wage but I wasn’t rolling in the big pen money.
So I quit.
I kept one job that paid me HANDSOMELY to do a terrible job and kept another job that paid me TERRIBLY to do a great job. I left the job that offered my minimal financial satisfaction in exchange for a mediocre job experience.
Now let me be clear, Staples paid SIGNIFICANTLY more than the Split Crow but the job was simply no fun. And if it’s not fun, don’t do it.
I’m not suggesting that tomorrow you walk into your boss’ office and tell them to shove it. We’ve all got bills to pay. What I’m suggesting is that you start to think about what you truly value. I value money and yet I don’t let it rule me. I know that in the long term, my health and well-being is worth more than a couple extra bucks an hour. I’d rather be more careful with my spending and skip a coffee here and a movie there than spend my day doing something I don’t enjoy.
So start thinking about what YOU are spending your day doing and if it’s not fun, don’t do it.