sarkology

Do you really love your job?

Posted in Uncategorized by sarkology on June 9, 2011

People like to talk about their jobs at introductions in social contexts. Many of us especially, like to say how much we love our jobs.

This “love” is probably relative. “I love my job more than I love doing the dishes”. “I love my job more than being a prostitute”. “I love my job more than what hobbies I pursue in my free time”. But in the context of introductions this “love” for jobs is most likely relative to other jobs.

It cannot be absolute because most of us really hate our jobs. We don’t like going to work. We prefer our non-work free time. Even when at work, our moments of greatest joy are not when we are productive but when we are at the water cooler chatting with coworkers.

So why do we say we love our jobs? Well, suppose you told someone how much you hated your job. Remember the context. This is during introductions, so you’re not telling it to someone you are close to, someone you have known for a while, and whom you don’t really have to impress. What you will appear to them to be is a loser. Someone who didn’t have much choice in choosing their career. Someone who settled for less. Someone who “gave up their passion”.

But how many of us are lucky enough to be blessed with a truly marketable passion? Almost everybody is passionate about something of course, but most of us realize that our passions cannot be turned into a profession, because there is no market for it in the first place, or simply because we suck. But having a ‘passion’ is almost mandatory, especially if you are a young adult. You would even decide on a college major based on “what you are passionate about”. This of course rarely translates into your future profession. But having said that, some of us when we claim we love our jobs, do truly love our jobs. Who among us are the lucky few?

Before we get there, let’s return to the question of most people do mean when they say they love their jobs. Short answer: they are proud/happy of being a person with job X, instead of jobs Y. This needs not be as cynical as it seems. They may truly be grateful and appreciative of having the jobs they have, not having worse jobs in mind. This can be true even when they contemplate it while performing the actual drudgery their job involves. Notice too that this “passion” and “love” probably played some part in them actually getting to choose their jobs in the first place. But it all ends there. Outside of these smattering of situations and contexts, taking their claims of love for their jobs literally does not provide for much insight.  Therefore, we’ll conclude with saying that they are proud/happy with their jobs because of  the relative status it has in the job status hierarchy.

Now, on to those whose jobs are their heart and soul.

Notice how most jobs are about a constant average performance in the long run, instead of peak performance for a short period resulting a polished product. They also don’t have a finished product which clearly and prominently credits their contribution. What all this means is that the intimate details of their performance are not generally known to outsiders. Ultimately, all such jobs require is that the worker not terribly fuck up, in which case she would simply be fired.

When we brag about our love for such jobs, the actual content they entail does not matter. Since others do not expect it, such jobs do not require one to express a love for the content. Since the best ‘liars’ believe their own lies, such jobs also do not require them to in fact possess a love for their work. (note: I quoted ‘liars’ there because that’s just too strong. It can actually be a self-modification process in which your brain makes you actually enjoy your work)

A job like an artists’ on the other hand, reveals exactly the traits we are looking for in a job you would truly love. People can intuitively grasp the process involved in producing a work of art. When you say you love being an artist, you cannot possibly make that claim without others expecting you to also love the nitty-gritty of making art.

All this has not been concerning if people actually love their jobs. Instead it’s about what people mean when they say they do in various contexts. In jobs in which people have some intimation of the content it entails, someone saying “I love my job” more reliably predicts their true love for their day to day work. There are certainly jobs we know nothing about but which people claim to love, and truly love doing. And there are people who claim to love the jobs we know something about, but who are actually lying. As usual, as you get to know such people better, the truth will reveal itself.

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