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Do you work to live or live to work?

George Santayana once wrote “There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.”

I am sure that most people would agree with this quote. The question is how many of these same people really enjoy their work, which can take up over half their waking hours? I would imagine that only a small minority can actually honestly say they do.

Many will be happy that they are working for a particular company (image). Many will be happy with their package, CTC and perks (stability). Others will be happy about the title they have or the fact that they can buy a certain car or house with the money they earn (status). But all of this just means that they enjoy the fruits of their labour rather than the labour itself.

There are many reasons one can end up doing something they don’t enjoy. They might be trying to fulfil someone else’s expectations of them; or they may have been unsure of what they wanted to do when they were younger and then just stuck to the first path they chose. Whatever the reasons, the point is that most people don’t even realise or won’t admit to themselves that they are not happy doing what they do. They are too busy focussing on the next EMI or buying a bigger car.

Very often when interviewing candidates on behalf of my clients, I ask what aspect they enjoy most about their current job. The reason I ask this is to assess the passion they feel for whatever it is they’re doing. Most of the time I get relevant replies, but these replies very rarely come with any conviction or excitement. Many people see work as a necessary activity to allow them to progress in life (they work to live rather than live to work) and even if you ask them what their dream job is they don’t know the answer themselves.

Others know what would make them happy, but feel that they only realised this too late in life. They think that because they have worked in a bank for a few years, for example, that they cannot switch to a career in hospitality. Or that if they started out in the finance department that they cannot switch to marketing. In reality though, this is very possible. It is clearly harder to switch industries or functions than to stay within the same one, but it is certainly not impossible. And if the end result is that you enjoy the hours you work every day, rather than just the couple of hours in the evening at home, then surely it’s worth the effort.

My own career is actually a good example of this. Before starting my HR Consultancy, I worked in hospitality, manufacturing and B2B ecommerce companies in accounting, sales, marketing, business development, project management and CXO roles. By making my previous experience relevant to the next role I managed to turn this diversity into an advantage.

People who truly enjoy the work they do are the luckiest people in the world. If you feel you would be happier doing something else, don’t let anyone discourage you: find a way to make it work!

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karl@sevenpillars.in

www.sevenpillars.in

First appeared in Vashi Times Jobs and Career on August 6th, 2011

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Categories: Uncategorized
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