Ever notice how anyone who works for a living always idealizes what the perfect job for them would be?
I sure have. Over the years I’ve thought about having the perfect job more than once. And more than a few years ago, I thought that the perfect job would be to have Elvis’.
It’s not that farfetched. Years ago, I was a lot younger and loved Elvis. His music, the concerts, even his movies, I literally grew up listening to him. And when I reached young adulthood and started seriously working in order to earn a living, my mind would often turn to daydreams about having the perfect job. And for me the person who possessed the most perfect job was Elvis.
What was there not to like about being Elvis? Women adored him, men admired him, and he made a living doing live concerts and making records. What a life! I thought about running around the country in a private jet doing shows in front of big crowds. Soaking up the adulation. Women going crazy. And whenever I tired of that, I could simply go into a recording studio and sing. Just enjoy making music. Make a hit few records. And then know my voice was going to be heard all over the world and I’d subsequently collect some good-sized checks for simply making the effort. Yep, being Elvis was something to aspire to, something to admire and cherish and wish like hell for.
In the midst of all that mind candy thought one uncomfortable reality needs to be addressed. I don’t know that Elvis himself enjoyed being Elvis. Especially during the last few years of his life.
Look, I didn’t know Elvis, never had the privilege of meeting him. But it seems to me that he wasn’t very happy during the last years of his life. His weight ballooned upwards, all sorts of rumors starting spreading around regarding his use of drugs, and the quality of his concerts and recordings started slipping. He seemed to become even more reclusive, you hardly ever heard of anyone seeing him out anywhere doing anything. It seemed like Elvis was tired of being Elvis. And it’s really not hard to imagine that happening – think about never being able to go anywhere without being recognized, imagine the relatives and friends who were hitting him up for favors, the pressure from RCA to keep product coming (at one time Elvis was 25% of RCA’s business, they even had a vice president assigned specifically to him), and just the simple day-to-day problems associated with being one of the most famous people in the world. Years of that would wear anyone down, and I think it’s what ultimately took Elvis out.
So, if Elvis didn’t enjoy being Elvis, why would most of us expect to love our jobs? Is that even a fair outlook regarding one’s employment? Can any job be expected to be “perfect?”
Well no, of course not. But we all know people who love their jobs, and I would guess a majority of folks who work at least like what they do for a living. And with that being said, are there things anyone can do to make their jobs a tad closer to “perfect?”
Of course! Here are a few simple suggestions towards that end:
1. This will sound awfully simplistic, but don’t expect “job perfection” in the first place. After all, do we expect perfection in our personal lives, choices of restaurants, clothing, movies or anything else? No organization is perfect, no job is perfect, and we don’t like admitting this, but we aren’t perfect as employees, either. If we’re reasonable as regards employer/job expectations, we might find that work automatically becomes a bit more enjoyable.
2. Gravitate towards the things in our jobs that we like to do. Most times, we have more influence here than we think. Common sense would dictate that the parts of our jobs that we love to do will typically be performed a bit better than the parts we don’t. I’ve always let my bosses know (in subtle and not so subtle ways) regarding the elements of my job that I enjoy doing. I’ve also found that most times one’s job mutates towards those things that you do the best. It never hurts to discuss or nudge towards one’s strengths, so do that with your boss sometimes. Can’t hurt.
3. Attempt to mitigate those things that you don’t like to do. For example, I enjoy writing. Part of my current job responsibilities are to upgrade our job descriptions and to edit our company newsletter. If another writing-related possibility presented itself, I’d have no problem with asking/saying, “Boss, would you please consider allowing me to writ/edit the new company history that’s being discussed? I’d love to take a shot. All I’d really need to be successful is just to pass along the statistical analyses I do for our department each month, and we both know Shelby could tackle that. Would be good experience for her.”
See? Not that hard if you can maintain a serious expression and effect a certain plaintive quality in your voice. And what do you have to lose?
4. Be thankful you have a job. Lots of people don’t. I’m guessing that if I left my current job tomorrow that a ton of people would apply for it. I wouldn’t blame them, either. I enjoy my job, my co-workers, and my organization. Others would as well, I’m sure.
Don’t forget that.
5. Understand that there is no job utopia out there. I’ve changed jobs multiple times over the year, and employers are just like friends/acquaintances. Some are good, some are bad, some have quirks but mean well, and some simply need to be out of business. There are no perfect jobs, and the grass is seldom greener on the other side of the fence. Be realistic re your job expectations, and you may find your current job is not nearly as bad as you think.
If you consider these things and work on those job aspects that you can control yourself, you’ll find that most any job can be something that’s worth waking up for and undertaking each day. Let’s face it, most of us spend more waking hours at work than at home, so we all want our working experiences to be as pleasant as possible. In the end, there are things Elvis could have done to make his life/work more enjoyable, and we are capable of the same. Even though Elvis was “The King,” no one wants to end up like he did, despondent and then, of course, dead. So don’t just accept your current job lot in life and burn yourself out over it. Or worse.