Friday, April 11, 2008

Thinking out loud 

It’s Friday, it’s lunchtime, the office is quiet, the sky is dark and it’s pouring outside (rain, sleet, thunder, lightning) all of which makes it feel quite bright and cosy and relaxed in here, and therefore possible to take a moment out to think, in spite of what I said yesterday.

This job problem, since that’s where I am at the moment. There are two sides to it: the hard facts of the job itself, and my feelings about those facts. I guess one thing I’m trying to do in this exercise is to tease those two apart, and see whether there really is a fundamental flaw in the facts of the job, such that I will never feel I fit here, or whether it might be possible to change the way I feel about the job, and so come to terms in a positive way with another dozen years here.

But first a qualifying question: is it just the job, or is it broader than that? Lifestyle might be a better word.

Let’s try a thought experiment: Suppose I were doing exactly the same job but in a part of the country which held the opportunity for easy access to wilder places; somewhere where I might for example go for a summer evening’s rock climbing, or even just a stroll along a riverbank; would that be sufficient? Or turn it round the other way – suppose we carried on living exactly where we are and visits to the hills were as few and far between as they are now (a year since I went camping anywhere) but I had a wonderfully fulfilling job (which equates to one where I felt I was being of service to humanity in some way), would I be content with that?

I have to admit, of those two, I think I’d prefer the former. But perhaps that’s just because it’s easier to imagine – I know what this job is, and I can easily paint an idyllic picture of a place in the country – or even a more realistic one, of a place on the outskirts of a regional city (much as I might dream of rural tranquillity, I’m enough of a realist to understand that after 53 years of suburban living, the adjustment to truly rural life would be quite significant) - but I simply have no conception what a fulfilling job might feel like. Oh, maybe that’s not quite true. I just remembered the time I was doing career counselling; I remember the comment I made after giving my very first session that it was possibly the most fulfilling day I had ever had at work. But I threw in the towel, because I didn’t believe in myself…

Perhaps those two alternatives have something in common though – perhaps there’s a common theme of what Maslow called self-actualisation, and I could attain that in either scenario?

Or perhaps even within the bounds of the present scenario; isn’t that what this question is all about?

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