So I’ve finished reading Roman Krznaric’s book How to Find Fulfilling Work. I already wrote about the first few chapters in a previous post, but the rest of the book was also good and I thought I would share my favourite parts with you.
So in my first post I wrote what constitutes having a meaningful job – which were making a difference, following our passions and using our talents.
But meaning is not enough, ideally we should also experience flow and freedom in our jobs.
I flow ,therefore I am
Flow experience is when we are completely absorbed in whatever we are doing, we are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.
‘In a typical flow experience, we feel totally engaged in the present, and future and past tend to fade away – almost as if we were doing Buddhist meditation.’
I wrote about a similar topic in my post about being in the element. I personally get flow when I am writing.
Freedom is another aspect we need in order to be fulfilled at work. That’s why even though being a freelancer or owning your own small business is often harder work then being employed by a company, statistically most people are still happier when being their own boss.
Alternatively we can choose to become an adherent of simple living. Do less hours in the office – say have a 3 day or 4 day week and simply reduce our living costs, but have more time to do what we enjoy doing.
‘When your income goes down from working less (or maybe taking a salary cut to do a more fulfilling job), as a general rule your daily living expenses will naturally contract to fit your new financial circumstances, and yet you will not feel any worse off. In fact you might feel that life is better, since you will be luxuriating in an abundance of the most precious commodity, time.’
I totally agree with this view, as I have found through my recent experience of unemployment that I could quite happily live a lower allowance without being worse off. I simply cut down on luxuries like clothes and eating out and that was it, but I didn’t feel it at all.
Krznaric gives an extreme example of a man who used to work in finance and hated it:
‘When I worked on Wall Street, I saw that most people were not making a living, they were making a dying’.
This man Joe Dominquez, then saved as much money as he could and at the age of 30 lived on the interest of $6000 a month. He bought a camper van and wrote a book about his experience entitled ‘Your money or your life’.
Act first reflect later – Krznaric argues that usually we just can’t know what we want to do only by thinking about it, we need to try doing it first.
He gives an example of a woman who was an events organiser (oh the irony) and decided she doesn’t like her job, but didn’t really know what else she wanted to do. So she took a radical sabbatical. She kept a part-time job in events to pay the bills and tried 30 careers in one year, shadowing various people for at least 3 days in positions she thought could be interesting for her. These varied from fashion photographer, bed and breakfast review writer, creative director at an advertising agency, an owner of a cat hotel, a member of the European parliament, a director of a recycling centre and a manager of a youth hostel.
Interestingly her conclusion was an interesting analogy:
‘The more jobs I try, the more I realise it’s not a rational process of listing criteria and finding a job that matches them. It’s a bit like dating. When I was single I had a mental list of qualities I thought my boyfriends should have. But some guys who had all the criteria on my list did nothing for me. And at one point you find someone who doesn’t meet half your checklist but blows you away. I think that’s what you have to look for in a job. I found it when following the advertising director, I was totally swept off my feet even though working in an advertising agency doesn’t nearly match my ideals. So maybe it’s not about thinking and planning, but about doing lots of job dating, trying out things until you feel a spark.’
Such a great idea – I wish I had done this when I had the opportunity! I did do it to a certain extent and tried working for a magazine, in a production company, translating, aerobics and English teaching, but these stints all took longer than 3 days. It had never occurred to me before that even 3 days would have been a good taster of what a job is like.
All in all an interesting book, would definitely recommend it.
Happy jobbing to you all!