Far be it from me to say that Doug and Carrie Heffernan, the main married couple of the sitcom King of Queens, should serve as role models—even if watching reruns of that show is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Still, every now and then Doug and Carrie can give us some important food for thought. In this case: What’s the point in working a job that’s no fun and from which you get no fulfillment?
Recently I caught an episode in which Carrie is truly enjoying her job. In fact, loving it. And when Doug finds out, he confronts her, feeling betrayed because, in his mind, they had a mutual understanding that they were the kind of people who hated their jobs.
I pulled the episode up on YouTube and transcribed the conversation that resulted from the confrontation (click on the image to watch, advance to minute 18:00):
Carrie: What can I do to get things back to the way they were?
Doug: Hate your job.
Carrie: I want to, but I just don’t. Why does this bother you so much?
Doug: It’s just that we’ve always been people who work cause we had to work. You know, we give 40 hours a week to The Man, so we could spend the other 40 hours here. Home. Together.
Carrie: Doug, a week has more than… (ugh) never mind. Doug, just because I love my job doesn’t mean I don’t love my time here with you.
Doug: (Ugh) Yeah, but when you come home from a job you hate, being with me is like a step up. You know, now when you come home you’re like, “hey, honey I’m home, oh that’s right, this place sucks.”
Carrie: Come on, that’s crazy.
Doug: Whatever, it’s not your problem. You know, I’ll just have to get used to you coming home all happy and fulfilled…
Do you have preconceived notions about what work should be like? Why couldn’t it be fun and fulfilling?
This conversation from King of Queens reminds me of two things:
- Sometimes we have deep-seated, preconceived (and unhelpful) notions about what work should be like
- We can tend to surround ourselves with people who reinforce those notions
So, to the first point… What if work didn’t have to be drudgery, or something you put up with until it’s time to do other things you like to do? What if it could be energizing, and fun, and not seem like work at all?
Some people may say, “Yeah, well, welcome to reality. If it weren’t drudgery, you wouldn’t be getting paid for it.” Is that true?
Those paying you for your work may not give much thought to how you feel about it
I’ll throw an idea out on the table. What if you could forget about whether a job should or should not be fun or fulfilling. I propose that the person, organization, or company paying you for your work doesn’t give too much thought to that.
Well, if they’re somewhat enlightened, they might realize that it’s to their benefit to think about it. But in most cases, they’re probably good either way—if you’re having fun working at your job, or if you’re not. If you find it fulfilling or not. They probably care much more about what problem you’re solving for them. So, really, it’s up to you whether or not you have fun or feel fulfilled.
It’s up to you to keep whatever is important to you “front and center”
And maybe fun or fulfillment aren’t what’s important to you. Maybe it’s having an impact. Or making a lot of money. Or feeling appreciated, or knowledgable. Whatever it is that’s important to you, it’s really up to you to set yourself up to keep that “front and center” in your mind, whatever you do for a job.
Are you surrounding yourself with support?
Which brings me to my second point… Who are you surrounding yourself with? In my mind, this includes people in your support network, like your spouse or significant other, for starters. But also co-workers, friends, other family members with whom you have frequent contact.
There probably wouldn’t be much of a premise for a sitcom episode if Doug from King of Queens didn’t feel threatened by Carrie’s desire to develop in her career. How different (if unfunny) would it be if Doug, instead, fully supported Carrie and felt that he’d also want a fulfilling job for himself?
Are you surrounding yourself with the right people that have attitudes toward work that are aligned with yours? Are the people you have frequent contact with in your life supportive of what you want to do with your job and career, and how you want to do it? Is the culture and are the people at your current job supportive of what’s important to you? Hopefully so.
A coach can help with that
If not, don’t despair. You can take action toward improving your situation, by making space for those people who will support you. Little by little, the more space you make for support, the less space you’ll have for those in your life who cannot support you.
Not saying it’s easy. In fact, you’ll probably see a lot of change (and change can be difficult, as we know) in your life after you decide to make the shift toward surrounding yourself with that support.
Identifying what needs to change—about you, your preconceived notions of work, or the elements of support around you—is Step One. And knowing your personal Purpose is key to identifying what needs to change and making that shift into more consistently meaningful work. You can read more about Purpose at this post.
A coach can help you identify your Purpose and what you want to change, and also help you navigate those changes.