“I don’t mean I want to be artist but I don’t just want to do tasks all day. I want to create something, anything.” David said. “I love writing music so much because my creative juices flow. But at work, I just follow procedures.” David commented further, in a refrain I’ve heard before, “and now I work so much that I really don’t have time for my hobbies, like writing music.”
David had discovered what many working parents know. Full time job plus being an involved parent does not leave a lot of time for personal interests. Something has to go or be minimized and hobbies and other creative endeavors are often the first to go. David had the commute that so many from Connecticut do – “up and down 95” during rush hour. When he arrived home, he was drained and had just enough energy to eat dinner, touch base with his wife and children, and sit down to answer a few more e-mails while watching Netflix. Having been a serious musician since childhood, he was dismayed to see his passion being eradicated.
“If I could do something more creative or interesting at work, I don’t think I would feel bad. But it’s like I’m living someone else’s life when I’m there and I come home and don’t have the energy to be the real me.”
My career counseling work has led to me several conclusions about what makes people happy at work:
(1) fit – the obvious one – does your work embody who you are as a person
In David’s case, his comment about the “real me” said everything. If you can’t be yourself at work, then you are probably in the wrong field or job.
(2) autonomy – people do not like to be micromanaged and/or controlled
In David’s case, his boss was fine but his work was so governed by procedures that demanded that he “stay within the guidelines” all day. The guidelines essentially micromanaged him.
(3) creativity – this – as David noted – does not mean artistic, it just means creative control
If you can do your job in a way that is uniquely you, then you have a job that allows for some creativity. If you could be easily replaced, then your job likely is not that creative.
Find work that meets the three criteria above. Now.