Is Your Job Making You “Stupid”?
Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations, once wrote that a person who spends his life performing the same repetitive tasks “generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.” Wow! Now that’s not a pretty picture. Unfortunately, much of our work today consists of those boring, repetitive tasks.
But maybe you’re one of the many who have gotten caught up in thinking work is just something you do to support your weekends. Work is that necessary evil, a means to an end, or just a curse from God. You probably take your role of providing for yourself and those depending on you seriously. But you don’t expect to enjoy your work—you just do what has to be done.
Only now you’re seeing that even loyalty and dependability bring no guarantees. Lately you’ve seen coworkers who have been let go after years of faithful service. Perhaps your entire industryhas been shaken by outsourcing or changing technology. Maybe you’re tired of the long commute and being tied to your desk when you know you could make your own hours and still be productive. You may have ideas stirring that you think could create new income and time freedom.
But here comes another Monday. Maybe feeling trapped is just the reality of the way things are. Doesn’t everyone dread Mondays? Doesn’t every responsible person just bury their dreams and passions in exchange for getting a paycheck?
Absolutely not! All of us, no matter how old we are or what kind of work we’re doing, can learn to bring the same excitement to our jobs that we bring to whatever we love to do on our days off. I believe that each one of us can pursue work that is a reflection of our best selves—a true fulfillment of our callings.
No More Mondays will show you that meaningful work really is within your grasp. And once you’ve opened the door and seen all the exciting career opportunities that await you—whether you decide to revolutionize your current job or launch a new career altogether—you’ll find you can’t go back to the old way of working.”
From No More Mondays
For everyone who dreads going to work on Monday mornings, inspiring advice on how to find fulfilling work in an uncertain age.
Do you hate Mondays?
If so, what's keeping you at your current job?
If you said a steady paycheck and the promise of a secure retirement, then you're in for a big disappointment. In today's volatile economy, there is nothing safe about punching the clock for a job you hate.
As beloved talk-show host and bestselling author Dan Miller reveals, the only way to find true security is by following your calling and then finding or creating work that matches that calling and passion.
No More Mondays’s practical, inspirational advice speaks to people looking for guidance on how to launch a new career or business, those who want to stay in their current jobs and give the old 9-to-5 model a twenty-first-century makeover, and managers desperate to understand the way people want to work today. For all of them, Dan Miller's message is loud and clear: If you're one of those people who dread going to work on Mondays, do something about it!
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DAN MILLER is the author of the bestselling 48 Days to the Work You Love book, workbook, and audio program. As a life coach, he has guided people through the anguish of unexpected change to the exhilaration of meaningful work and increased time and financial freedom. Dan has appeared on CBS’s The Early Show and MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. He lives the life he describes, combining work and play, with his wife, Joanne, on their nine-acre sanctuary near Franklin, Tennessee.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Don’t Be “Stupid”
William and his wife, Bonnie, were smiling when they walked into my office, but it was clear they had a lot on their minds. They were worried about their financial future and eager for advice. Both were attractive, vibrant professionals who were clearly confident and successful. At fifty–three years old, William had been a commercial pilot with a major airline for twenty–seven years. His annual salary was more than $200,000, and years earlier he had calculated that, with his investments and his pension, he could retire in high style by age fifty–six. But then his investments took a big dive and the airline defaulted on its pension plan. Suddenly it seemed uncertain that he’d even have a job for three more years, let alone the money to stop working.
William and Bonnie are not alone in having their career path and financial plans disappear within months. The status of most employee pension plans sits somewhere between threatened and dead and gone. IBM has announced it will discontinue pension benefits starting in 2008 and shift to 401(k) plans that will save the company as much as $3 billion over the next few years. Following the lead of United and US Airways, other major airlines have proposed dumping their pensions in bankruptcy. Allstate Insurance has “invited” all 6,200 of its agents to become independent contractors, giving up their health insurance and pension benefits in the process. There is no way the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation can back up these folding pension plans. The PBGC is already on the hook for $62.3 billion in expected pension payouts with only $390 billion in its accounts. So where does this leave you and me?
“ Revolutionary” Thinking
As I told William and Bonnie, if you think like a traditional “employee,” you are placing yourself in jeopardy. We are witnessing the dawn of a revolution in which each one of us will become completely responsible for our own income, benefits, and retirement. But don’t assume this is a negative transition—in fact, what I’m going to reveal in these pages is that never before have we had so many opportunities to take control over the shape of our careers. Never before has the potential for fulfilling work and true wealth been greater. Sure, the times, they are a–changing. But you can stay ahead of the inevitable changes—and benefit from them—by seeing the wealth of new opportunities available to you and planning for them now.
While my use of the word Revolutionary may conjure up the idea of donning a pointy hat and bringing a cannon in to work tomorrow, that’s not exactly what I have in mind. The dictionary defines revolutionary as “radically new or innovative; outside or beyond established procedure, principles, etc.,” as in a revolutionary discovery. It’s revolutionary to become more than simply complacent in your workplace. After all, the traditional employee does not often embrace radically new or innovative thinking—and frequently does not think much at all. The traditional employee does what he or she is expected to do, completes established procedures, and makes sure things are done today the same way they were done yesterday. Revolutionaries pave their own ways; they stretch the rules and think of ways to do things better. A brief warning: Revolutionaries may be seen as threats to the status quo. I even have a close friend who was fired for “thinking too much.” In traditional work positions, the requirements of the job are frequently imposed on you, regardless of your passions, calling, or unique skills. But what kind of way is this to spend the majority of your waking life? Wasn’t my friend’s firing really a kind of liberation?
And what about you? Does your work really allow you to make the best use of your abilities, your personality traits, your values and dreams? If you were to pull the paycheck blindfold off your eyes, would you see work that's authentically fulfilling?
Have You Made the Most of the Life You Have?
• Are you where you thought you’d be at this stage of your life?
• Have you ever had a sense of “calling”?
• How did you hear that calling?
• Is your work a fulfillment of your calling?
• Do you go home at night with a sense of meaning, purpose, and accomplishment?
• If nothing changed in your life over the next five years, would that be okay?
• If you want different results next year, what are you willing to change about what you are doing now?
Within the pages of No More Mondays, you will discover new opportunities and rediscover things about yourself that will provide you with a sense of meaning, accomplishment, and fulfillment. This book is filled with practical advice on how to move from traditional work to an authentic—and perhaps revolutionary—investment of your time and energy. And as you become a Revolutionary, you will find the preceding questions much easier to answer.
Success is never an accident. It typically starts as imagination, becomes a dream, stimulates a goal, grows into a plan of action—which then inevitably meets with opportunity. Don’t get stuck along the way.
Sit Straight and Stay in the Lines . . . Why?
Unfortunately, from the first day of school, our academic system has been teaching us to work in a workplace that is disappearing. We were told to sit up straight, talk only when it was our turn, walk in an orderly fashion to the lunchroom, follow instructions, and color inside the lines. These instructions encourage the mind–set we can refer to as “paycheck mentality.” As children, we learn that, if we go by the rules, do what we’re told, we will be rewarded. Do what the teacher says, and you’ll get good grades. Naturally these lessons prepare us for a paycheck mentality: Show up for work, don’t make waves, and put in your time. With these skills you can get a paycheck, but you probably won’t be equipped for the revolution in the workplace that will liberate you from the old way of working: mind–numbing and often poorly paid production– and knowledge–based work models. By production work I mean the repetitive work done in factories and on assembly lines. By knowledge work I mean the kind that involves managing data and analyzing information. Not only are these models outdated and soul-stripping, but they’re endangered by technology and easily outsourced. Revolutionaries, by contrast, may change what they do every day; they look for results, they don’t watch for how many hours they have worked, and they work in ways that may be unique and surprising.
He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. —Harold Wilson
According to the late Peter Drucker, we are reaching the end of a forty–year period (1970-2010) that has brought more change than the world has ever seen—and there's more where that came from. As we approach the end of this time frame, the speed of change is increasing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is now predicting that 50 percent of the jobs we will have in the next ten years have not yet been created. Bureau experts are further predicting that in another five years only 50 percent of the American workforce will be employees. We are seeing an explosion of new work models, including consultants, independent contractors, electronic immigrants, teleworkers, and contingency laborers. While in past years entrepreneurs were expected to rent buildings and hire employees, these days they may operate Internet businesses that require neither. Today’s temps may work from home and design their own schedules. These are not the characteristics of the workplace we were led to expect by our parents and grandparents. These are not the kinds of workplaces where the loyalty of a company guarantees us a weekly paycheck in exchange for our time.
If terms like contingency worker or temp sound unappealing, you can create your own. What would you like to be called? How about “creative,” “free,” “imaginative,” “innovative,” “original,” “ingenious,” “inspired,” “pioneering,” “groundbreaking,” or “clever”? Why don’t you create your own original word for your ideal work environment?
A few years ago I decided that instead of entrepreneur, the term Eaglepreneur had a nicer ring to it and accentuated the way I differ from a traditional entrepreneur. I liked many aspects of what is implied by the term entrepreneur, but I did not envision myself as another Bill Gates or Sam Walton or dream of managing twenty thousand employees. I enjoy working independently and making my own decisions, but I’d rather not be bogged down by the traditional business elements of a bricks–and–mortar establishment with employees, leases, and sign permits. Therefore, I decided I was an Eaglepreneur. Go ahead, check it out—http://www.eaglepreneur.com—I have the domain. I claimed that title, and you can do the same with your own. As a Revolutionary, you too will recognize the new opportunities to custom–build your own fulfilling work.
Yes, the workplace is changing—and yes, the career ladder is broken. Today’s career path may look more like a labyrinth, in which every time you thought you were heading straight toward the goal, you reach a turn in the road and need to change direction to continue your progress. It’s initially frightening, of course, but only before you consider the payoff. These days, you can build skills and competence in one job and move along to a new company, confid...
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