This article has nothing to do with Rihanna and Drake, unfortunately.
When I started my first job as an intern, I got to work at 9:05am, went out for my full hour's lunch break (with the other interns who were no different) and by 5:10pm we were usually found at our favourite bar counter ordering as many of the BOGOF cocktails (Espresso Martinis for me...) as possible before 'happy hour' ended for the day. To put it in context, my life was mostly: PLAY, PLAY, PLAY, PLAY, WORK (80% play vs. 20% work).
Fast-forward ten years and my life is: WORK, WORK, WORK, PLAY, PLAY (60% work vs. 40% play).
Thank goodness there's still some 'PLAY' in there. If you're not careful, the 'PLAY' could keep going on a decline unless you consciously keep it in your life. Personally, 'PLAY' involves spending time doing things that I enjoy doing, such as writing, photography, traveling, going to different food places or bars, spending time with friends and family, as well as having some time to 'chill'. This no doubt, varies from person to person, with some people being fortunate enough to even consider 'WORK' as 'PLAY'.
From first-hand experience, I realised over the last few years that work feels less like 'WORK' when I enjoy what I do... or make myself enjoy what I have on my plate for most of the time spent in the office, so that it feels less like an effort. This could result in a reduced perception of 'WORK' and 'PLAY' being mutually exclusive (and possibly less of a reason to write an article about).
While work usually pays the bills and (hopefully) challenges us professionally and socially, it can also become routine. The opportunity cost of work is often the time and energy that could be spent on things that bring us more fulfilment. Climbing the career-ladder is often promoted with more money, increased knowledge and responsibilities, better connections, more authority, power and so on. However, this could come as a package with some additional politics, stress, conflicts and more.
Towards the end of last year, I went to a career's workshop run by ETC (Escape The City) that was quite interesting (so much that I actually paid for it). A lady called Skye took us through some frameworks that could help people identify key factors to help them find out if they're on the right career path and job.
Below are 3 key career ingredients:
Skye asked us to rate each category between 0-10, making a full classroom of 20-40-year-old men and women ask themselves whether their work is actually meaningful (to them) and if it is fulfilling their potential (Impact). We were then asked if we are enabled to have a good work-life balance, including more 'PLAY' time, whether it's to socialise or exercise, have our weekends to ourselves, reasonable working hours etc. (Wellbeing). Finally, we were asked if we genuinely felt like we were part of the places we work for (Belonging).
If we take everything in such courses with a pinch of salt, I reckon we can benefit from such frameworks, without making any impractical or dramatic changes to our careers. They can be beneficial as a sense-check to help people find the reasons behind any unfulfilling work, and try to tackle them with possible solutions, or look for more suitable alternatives.
The three career ingredients reminded me of a TED Talk by Emily Esfahani Smith who highlighted four 'pillars' to living a meaningful life. I felt like this could be applied to the ETC framework above, in order to help ourselves find the 'WORK: PLAY' (and life) balance.
Belonging, according to Emily, comes from "relationships where you are valued for who you are and where you value others as well." This can directly be applied to the 2nd 'career ingredient' mentioned earlier by ETC of 'belonging' as well. The second pillar is purpose, which is about "using our strengths to serve others" and reach an end result, which many of us do through work, i.e. "how we contribute and feel needed".
There are moments at work, like today when I was sat in a filming studio with a product manager who was being recorded to talk about his product. I watched him getting nervous, failing to say what he wanted to... and trying and trying again until he got his best shot. For a couple of seconds, I felt inspired by his dedication and ability to refocus on the task at hand and I felt fortunate to be exposed to inspiring people through work. This ties in with the 'growth' element of the 1st ETC career ingredient mentioned earlier (Impact). In such moments, I can somewhat relate to the 3rd pillar from the TED talk: transcendence, i.e. experiences beyond the normal. However, in the industry I work in, I have to say these moments are infrequent... (at least compared to the Health and Charity sectors!). Depending on who you are, it is possible to find random things that make you feel uplifted and motivated. For some it could be while writing or analysing data and trends (not me...) while for others it may be networking, treating people in hospital, playing a sport... you get the picture.
The final pillar is about story-telling. How you define your experiences in life or at work can determine how you feel about work feeling like 'WORK' or 'PLAY'.
Many of us come across that one difficult (pain in the...) person at our workplaces, who we can moan about on an hourly basis to the point that they become a reason for our stress levels soaring. Or we could define ourselves or our job satisfaction on things that went right or wrong. This could be a volatile view of our situations, though. The clue is in finding perspective on what we have experienced to see the positive and negative outcomes e.g. lessons learnt, subsequent successful projects, empathising with the behaviour of difficult colleagues and finding solutions around them and so on.
Obviously, if the situations are unbearable and in the ETC model you see yourself scoring say 0-5 on most of the 'career ingredients' and/or not finding a purpose or belonging in your daily work life, it's probably time to move on. For instance, if I ever find myself in a WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK, PLAY/WORK (80% work vs. 20% play) situation (I hope not!), I may need to come back to this article and read it myself.
Many of us spend way too long looking for new ways to be happy. I found a few basic rules that have really sunk into me and have helped me deal with challenges and life so far.
Here are 5 theories that can give certain situations a 'name' or some structure to help us get some clarity and perhaps some perspective in certain situations. We just need to figure out how to apply them...