Politics: where absolutely anything is OK as long as the right team does it.

Work sucks, what to do

Recent threads about being bored at work and wanting to do something different got me thinking.

Speaking for myself I can say with conviction that the problem is not management, tools or environment, but simply that sometimes working for someone else for a fixed monthly fee just sucks.

My job would probably be considered interesting by any measure but I still find myself bored to death by it periodically and as a result I am sometimes unable to get the slightest thing done except browsing the net or working on my own projects. Notably my own projects are in the exact same field as my professional work but here I could dig in and work for days without sleep if I didn't have other obligations. So it's not the field of work itself that's the problem. I love software.

For me the whole difference is that in my day job, what I do doesn't matter much to me. If my work is outstanding, the most I can hope to achieve is a pat on the back - that is if it happens to be in a field where the quality of my work is actually measurable by management and/or peers.

For the most part my field of work is opaque to outsiders meaning rarely will anyone recognize excellence, and even if they did it would probably make little difference in the end result I care about, namely the size of my pay check. Neither will I ever get to see the happy face of a customer satisfied with what I created since the 'customer' is a huge multinational and my work is a cog wheel somewhere, so I will never know if it had a positive impact.

I guess some of my gripe has to do with being an employee in a big organization and I should probably consider moving to a smaller place with more involvement. But on a general level I think a big part of the dissatisfaction is that I am not working for me. My contribution does not directly influence the bottom line for me, but for someone else. I have more or less arrived at the conclusion that I need to own, or at least be a partner, in whatever business I am putting in sweat for.

Some have suggested finding a creative outlet for personal satisfaction and growth, like learning a musical instrument, writing a book etc., but for me that just smells like defeat - submit to the mental slavery of the day job with the only comfort being that it buys free time to pursue satisfaction in the evening and weekends.

My present course of action is working on my own commercial projects whenever I have time for it. I.e. sacrifice my free time in order to try to create something in the future for myself and my family. I have gotten something done, but admittedly this approach is more reminiscent of the prisoner digging his way beneath the prison walls with a teaspoon than real entrepreneurship. But at least I am making a break for it.

Maybe, just maybe, sometime in the future I'll emerge at the other side. If not, at least I tried instead of rolling over dead.
Permalink jz 
March 22nd, 2005
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