Things I Know: Work

“Work: (noun) Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result”

Somehow my post about relationships came more easily than my post about work, maybe because I’ve spent more days in relationships than I have at work or maybe because although I know some things about work, I don’t have it entirely sussed yet. Either way, I’ve had to do something which I almost never do… I’ve redrafted this post. Actually taken it back to the drawing board and changed the content type redrafted, not just tweaked the odd typo!

Work is a bizarre thing that seems to be sort of thrust upon us when we reach a certain age. Technically school is a form of work for children but it never really seems like that at the time, at least it didn’t for me because I preferred school to home and was always quite an able student. Work first appeared in my life when I was a teenager and my parents made it very clear that if I wanted more than £20 a month to spend on fun things, I’d have to earn it. Luckily, I was able to work for my parents before I was 16 to boost this meagre income and then secured myself a brilliant part time job with lots of fun people when I was legally old enough to have a “proper” job.

That introduction to work was great in that it allayed my fears about what it would be like to work in the big wide world but bad in that it didn’t prepare me for the fact that not everywhere would be that fun. Over the years I’ve had a multitude of jobs, a few include: retail assistant, party rep, data entry monkey, direct credit card sales rep, training administrator and sales operations lead. Some of these have been fun, most have been insanely, mind-numbingly boring.

Am I successful? Well that depends who you are and how you define success; from the outside I’m doing perfectly fine for someone my age, especially someone who’s jumped around so much and had 2 redundancies in their first 5 years of full time work. (I technically fled before 1 of the redundancies but I knew it was coming so it still counts!) So if you count success as being employed throughout the recession and earning more than the national average then yes, I am successful. If you count success as enjoying your work and gaining some sort of satisfaction from it then no, I’ve not quite made it there yet but I’m working on it.

One thing I have learned about work is that you do have to do as the definition says and put in effort otherwise you just won’t reap the rewards and that’s fine because I like a job that requires me to work hard. However, what I have also learned is that the effort is pointless if nobody notices. If your boss doesn’t like you or tries to claim your effort as theirs, look wider and shout louder until somebody else sees your effort. It took me far too long to realise this but it really does only take 1 person in the right place to sing your praises and suddenly doors start flying open left, right and centre.

Another thing I have learned is that being miserable at work isn’t worth it, if you genuinely hate your job, change it. If you know you won’t like working in an office or outside in the rain, stay away. I’ve made these mistakes so badly and for so long I’ve actually suffered depression because I hated my work so much and I’ve spent thousands of pounds I didn’t have because I thought my life would be better if I had more stuff. Not true! Now I am working in a sales role purely to pay off some of that debt… I still don’t like offices and I still don’t like technology, but I’ve finally found a dirt track to lead me to the shiny road that will take me out of this environment and into one I should have started off in several years ago.

Work is a huge part of your life so follow your passion, even if it means less money. You will make the money in the end because you’ll be prepared to put the effort in to be the best at what you do. Most of us in the western world are lucky enough to have choices so don’t waste yours picking something “just because”, choose something because you have a genuine reason for doing so and you’ll live with your choice much more easily.

Now I wholly stand by the points I’ve made above but the biggest point I am going to make here is that confidence is the key to a successful working life in my opinion. I’m not talking about being an arrogant whatsit who stomps around the office making enemies, I’m talking about the self-assured comfort that allows you to do what works best for you. Confidence will help you to stand up and make sure your hard work is noticed and that it pays off; confidence will give you the courage to take the lesser trodden path because you believe it’s right for you and confidence will help you move on from your mistakes and make positive changes to affect your future.

And that’s my advice about work; it’s very much in progress as I keep shuffling toward what I consider success to be but nonetheless, I have already learned some things and I wanted to share them. Don’t just do the job you think you should do, aim for the one you really want and the challenges along the way will become minor hurdles for you to leap over 🙂

Next stop on the Things I Know journey will be “Bodies”! x

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