After working on two different industrial attachment jobs for a total of 8 months, I realized what type of job to never settle for no matter what. At the first job, it was a group of highly paid administrative workers. Some of them well advanced in age. Typical days at work were a boring repetition of administrative jobs. They found it weird that I constantly begged to be given something to do to keep me busy. They expected that I should feel lucky to have a placement where I get paid regardless of whether I made any input or not.
The second job was with lower-level workers at an oil and gas distribution company. Everyone hated how they were treated by the management. And their way of expressing aggression towards the management was gossiping. Also, everyone seemed to have an escape plan that they never get to implement. In fact, when I visited three years later, none of them had left, but it was still the same party of complaint, gossiping, and fantasies of quitting the job.
We all understand that life is tough. A lot of times, you’ll find yourself where you did not intend to be. And making a change is always difficult. But being at a place is one thing and choosing to remain and settle there is another decision you have to make. The one type of job I believe no one should ever settle with is a job that does not permit you to think and be creative.
In this video, I’ll share with you the risky implication of settling with such types of jobs and what you should do if you are already trapped in a job like this. Before we get to it, be sure to subscribe to After School TV for more insightful videos like this.
Why shouldn’t you settle with a non-creative job?
The late Nobel prize-winning Dr. Albert Schweitzer was asked by a reporter, “Doctor, what’s wrong with men today?” The great doctor was silent for a moment, and then he said, “Men simply don’t think!” Thinking is the hardest job to do. People often talk about how unjust it is for the man sitting in the office and doing nothing but thinking and giving orders gets paid multiple times higher than the guys on the field getting the job done. Well, that’s because thinking is the hardest and most rewarding job in the world. The world wouldn’t have advanced as we know it today without people who took the difficult work of thinking. We would probably still be going to the farm with crude tools.
You might have worked with a boss that told you, ‘you are here to work, and not to think’? Without a doubt, it’s the primary responsibility of the leader to think through the overall health of the company, but team members should have the privilege to think through how they get their job done. What makes us different from apes is our ability to think. Any job that is mindless repetition of the same task is not creative. Any job that doesn’t compel you to exercise your ability to think and solve problems is not creative. And any job that doesn’t allow you to be creative is not worth investing your time in.
What type of Job should you settle for?
Have you ever immersed yourself in your work that you lost your sense of time and self? Do you know that feeling of digging into your mental capacity to get something done without noticing the passing of time?
In the book Flow by Mihaly, the author talked about the feeling of being ‘in the zone’. It is a feeling of enjoyment rather than the pleasure that comes when you are engaged in a task or activity that balances skills and challenges; a task that has clear goals and immediate feedback. Being in the zone means that you are totally immersed in the task at hand. This immersion is so powerful it can release us from our self-consciousness, worries, and anxieties, and allow us to lose track of time.
The positive mental feeling you get when you are immersed in something that engages your creative human spirit affects your physical and mental well-being in great ways. You can’t compare that to getting caught up in a job that sucks away your energy and leaves you painfully exhausted every single day. Many people fall into the vicious cycle where they are miserable to work. They work only to earn money to buy themselves distractions and pleasure from their jobs.
Real satisfaction and enjoyment come with stretching ourselves, using our skills and concentration to go beyond our limitations. You should be in a job where you are internally challenged to surpass your previous performance or where you want to learn as much as possible about the job.
What if you are already in a non-creative job?
Albert Einstein was working at a patent office while formulating his theory in his free time. This was a job Einstein referred to as his ‘cobbler’s trade’. A job that, in his words, “was undemanding of his intelligence”. However, he spoke of this job as where he hatched his most beautiful ideas. He managed his time exactly: eight hours of work, eight hours of miscellaneous and scientific work, and eight hours of sleep – which he often used instead for writing his manuscripts. Within a few years, he left for a job at the University of Zurich where he had the liberty to express his creative genius. In essence, what made the Einstein we hear, read, and study about today was something he developed while working a mundane, uncreative job.
The point is that you can be creative with your time while in an uncreative job. During my early years after graduation, I was working an unpaid job as a construction site engineer during the day, and writing and learning to code at night. Once I was convinced these were fields I wanted to pursue, the construction job was no longer necessary.
If you are already in a non creative job, your first priority should be to learn to manage your time. Create time to do those things that allow you to be creative. You see, when people are dissatisfied with their daily routine because of their job, they are most likely to spend their leisure time recovering from work in the laziest way possible; like in front of TV or scrolling through social media. However, work should be developed into something that provides some mental challenge, focuses your attention and reduces your anxieties; and not something you want to run away from. If you can’t find this in your daily work at the moment, find it in something you do outside work.
Seek out new challenges in your work
Creativity is challenging. In fact, when we say a task, problem or activity is difficult, or challenging, what we are often saying is that this will require a level of thinking we are not ready to get into. If your job is not challenging, possibly it’s because it doesn’t demand much of your creative capacity.
Sometimes it’s possible to reignite this from the same job. It could just be that you need to see your job differently. Or that you need to ask for more responsibility. During the industrial attachment where I was begging to be given a job, I was later assigned the responsibility of filling gas tanks for vehicles in the company and keeping a record. Honestly, it wasn’t a creative job, but the point is that you’ll often get more responsibility when you ask for it.
Aim to learn as much as possible
If you are in an industry that interests you but in a job role that is uncreative, you can exercise your creative muscle with the goal to learn as much as you can about the business. Aim to learn as much as possible about all the essential tasks involved in keeping the company running, rather than just clocking in and out, and just doing what you are paid to do. Unproductive employees often think they are smart for getting paid to do their bare minimum. Sure such an attitude is likely to hurt the company, but it hurts the employee even more. You know why – because they are wasting their time doing a job they don’t like and training their mind to settle for the bare minimum. If you don’t like your job, quit. It’s that simple. People who are curious and creative cannot afford to stay and do the bare minimum. They will rather give their best or go somewhere else. So aim to learn as much as you can, by putting in your best.
Real satisfaction comes with stretching your creative self, using your skills and concentration to surpass challenges. It comes from engaging in work that allows you to lose your sense of self and time. That is the type of job or career you should strive for.
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