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Video Update: Do All Real Jobs Suck?

Hey guys,

I’ve joined the Mac world, and just as soon as I learn how to right-click, I’ll be ready to get back to World Domination. It’s amazing what a connection with Steve Jobs and $1,300 can get you at the Apple Store.

Here’s the summary of the video: Not all real jobs suck, but many of them do — so many, in fact, that I hear every day from people who are doing everything they can to escape.

As mentioned in the video, I get a LOT of email. I’ll use the video updates to respond and answer questions. Remember, though: there are no experts. I’m calling it as I see it, and you should do the same.

What do you think? If you’re working at a real job, do you love it or do you want out as fast as possible?

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39 Comments

  • Nate says:

    Glad to see you have started to use video, Chris! I will definitely look forward to them in the future.

    Thanks for sharing those emails too. I’m planning on having a “real job” for a while when I build up my online business(es). It’s not going to be fun but unfortunately it’s something that has to be done in my situation at least for a little while.

    I’m in college now and will be done soon so that’s the plan.

  • Jessica says:

    I don’t think the question here should be “do real jobs suck,” but “is your job a correct fit for YOU?” Wanting to escape from a job usually means you’re doing something that is wrong for your personality type (or maybe the people/culture are a bad fit). Take any job out there — some people will love it, others will absolutely hate it, but at the end of the day, it is simply a job. The job itself is not the problem, whether you’re working for yourself or for a company.

    Secondly, most of job dissatisfaction comes from your attitude towards it. Focusing on why it sucks so much everyday won’t do much to improve your situation. Don’t play the victim and blame it on your job. For people who may not have the option at the moment to start their own business or find a new job, what positive things can you take from what you’re doing right now? (You’re probably rolling your eyes at that, but you owe it to yourself to just try it.)

    I’ve been in the situation before where I swore I hated my job (after working for myself as a freelancer for awhile), but I eventually realized that there were other areas of my life I needed to fix that I was unhappy about. Once I did that, work became much more enjoyable and I had more energy to focus on my tasks and play a more active role in the company.

    Of course, every situation is different, but I think a lot can be gained from looking at the root cause of your unhappiness rather than just blaming the fact that you have a “real job.” It’s also important to remember that there will be good and bad days no matter what you’re doing. 😉

  • Sheila says:

    We live in an unprecedented era of opportunity for self-sustaining work. The notion of The Great American Job has been on its way out for something like a decade and half, but the new paradigm hasn’t fully established itself yet. In one way, that’s a good thing–it means it can still be defined and we can try to define it in a way that benefits everybody instead of a chosen few.

    A question I’ve been asking myself lately that I think more people should consider asking themselves: Do you want to be a rich person or do you want to live a rich life? Yes, of course, “both” is a nifty option, but instead of waiting until you become a rich person, you can begin living a rich life at any moment. Starting now.

  • AD says:

    I think a supervisor plays a big role in whether an office job sucks. When an entire department dislikes their supervisor, when the supervisor is distrustful, unsupportive, and isolates themselves from the staff, it’s a little hard to work with that, and honestly, I don’t want to. I just want out. So while I can look at the positives (wonderful coworkers), it just doesn’t outweigh the negatives.

    Then there are some bosses, like my uncle, who continue to pay insurance premiums for an employee with terminal cancer despite the insurance company’s threats to sue him for doing so. And that’s just one example of many. Too bad he lives in another state, or I’d be working for him!

    For me, there’s also a question of purpose. I work at a nonprofit because I thought I would be doing something that benefits others, but some nonprofits, as I’ve now learned, can be just as bad as the big corporations, and while there are some benefits, there are also some bad things that aren’t done with the members at heart. I just want to feel like what I do serves a purpose.

  • Chris says:

    Thank you all so much for dropping in with your perspective!

  • Brandon W says:

    I’m getting laid off in 2 months, but I hate my job so much there are days I’m ready to quit early and walk into Michigan’s 12% unemployment. My perfect scenario? I get laid off in 2 months and start a business so I never have to go back to working for anyone else again!

  • Awesome perspective Chris. Unfortunately, most people fear change and that’s what keeps them stuck in their “Sucky Jobs”. Once you learn how to treat change as an opportunity instead of a threat, you will flourish. Best of luck to all of you looking to change for the better. You can do it!

  • Abigail says:

    Ctrl + Click is equivalent to right-clicking:)
    I’m liking the video updates, too. Empowering the unsatisfied workers to go their own way is a great thing to do and I appreciate hearing about it, because we are so often taught to be the employee, not the employer, even though being an employer would give us so much more freedom and joy in many cases. On the other hand, though, as you pointed out, there are “real” jobs that do the same thing. Each to their own. Thanks!

  • Jenny Blake says:

    Love the vlog! I think it’s the first time I actually learned how to properly pronounce your last name 😀

    This is a great topic and I love the way you incorporated reader emails and questions into your response. The second email was incredibly poignant.

    I agree that there’s a fine line between rationalizing “jobs that suck” and sticking to a full-time job while focusing on side projects because it’s right for that person at that time. I personally wake up at a different place on that spectrum every day, and do my best to listen to my gut without jumping to conclusions.

    Great video, look forward to watching more!

  • Daniel Mick says:

    I’m waiting to start firefighting academy, a job I very much consider to not suck. In fact, it’s my dream job! — allowing me to work and serve in ways already ideal to me, and the flexibility and freedom to still pursue other interests in my free time afforded by the schedule. There is a hiring freeze because of the economy and its affect on the city budget, but the wait is inconsequential if the prize is the position, and it’s an exciting opportunity for some brief exploration of more extensive volunteering, personal projects, and other part-time work.

    Some other good “change” quotes:

    “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Ghandi

    “If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” – Jack Dixon

    “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” -Charles Darwin

  • Shaun says:

    I have a job that normally doesn’t suck. It’s not the most rewarding work, and ultimately it means little, but I’m able to continue teaching myself useful skills for the future and that was my goal when taking on the role.

    However, as I suspect is the problem for many people in similar stepping stone ‘means-to-an-end’ positions, the pay sucks, my commute eats away over 2 hours per day and the attitude and behaviour of my fellow workers and management is uninspiring at best and creatively devastating at worst.

    A lot of the time I truly do find work can be rewarding in and of itself regardless of what the task actually is, more so if there is a meaningful purpose to it. Sometimes it’s not the job itself, it’s everything that comes with it: the environment, the people and the location that cause problems. Most of these issues could be resolved by working off-site which should be entirely possible for me, but, due to the afore mentioned attitudes and behaviour of management, sadly isn’t an option.

  • Kristian says:

    I love my job: I’m a chemist. Technically I’m a graduate student, but being a fourth-year doctoral candidate means I teach rather than take classes and I am paid to do research. The academic track doesn’t really lend itself to the DIY approach (unless you start your own on-line university, I guess). Accredidation, federal grants, and the term “doctor” require a person to jump through certain hoops and follow certain rules.

    HOWEVER: I still believe that it’s possible to avoid dead-ends and desperation by being unconventional. That’s my ambition, anyway.

  • Tristan says:

    It’s true that some jobs suck, and others don’t. I have a “real job” during the summers — actually, three, working for a music festival for 5 weeks. And while it is just a summer position for me, there are those that work there full time, year round to make it happen. Even though they have to sift through tons of paperwork, contract disputes, and irate customers, the 5 weeks during the summer when the air is full of music and the dance floors are packed, it’s all worth it for them.

    Then again, I was at my university’s records and admissions office today, and it was the closest thing I’ve ever witnessed to hell. Stale fluorescent lights, the hum of office machine, and carpeted cubicle walls. Nearly everyone I spoke to there sounded dead and drained, and all I could think was, I know that these people have college degrees… They worked so hard through at least 17 years of schooling for this? To sit in a concrete and linoleum cave and file paperwork and answer phones that would be outsourced to computers anyway if it wasn’t for people’s inability to check for the answers online? I can’t see what they’re actually getting out of it, beyond a steady paycheck and health insurance.

  • Eriko says:

    If you are using a macbook of some sort.
    Open
    System Preferences -> Trackpad -> and check Tap pad using two fingers for secondary click

  • Slackermom says:

    Like Brandon W, I will be laid off officially in about 2 months. However, I’ve been on a paid leave of absence since December so I’ve had the benefit of a paycheck/insurance while I try to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I’m a lawyer and all I know is that I don’t want to practice law anymore. Although I enjoyed it for awhile, after 14 years I’ve had more than enough. I wouldn’t have had the courage to leave my job so, in a way, being laid off is a blessing in disguise.

    In my experience, as others have pointed out, some “real” jobs suck and others don’t. And sometimes a job that was fine at first gets to be not so good as you get older (wiser?). I may have to accept a “real” job again – I have kids to support. But in the meantime, I’m trying really hard to figure out what I can do that’s flexible, creative and pays enough to support the family. It’s a tall order but I’ve always been an optimist!

  • kazari says:

    I think jobs are like dirt. Some are all sand, and there’s not much you can do with it. Some are sand and clay in a good mix (called loam) and they have the potential to grow amazing things. Others are just clay. It sucks for growing in, but you can bend it in to amazing shapes – anything you want, really.

  • Cool video Chris, I’d like to see more of them. Your passion is very similar to mine, and I think it is important to keep motivating people to take the jump and make change in their lives. Your site is great, keep up the good work.

  • Jen M. says:

    My job doesn’t suck. I’m not in love with it, but it’s meeting my needs. I work a 2nd job. That 2nd job is my soul’s bread and butter: I run my own business on the side. THAT is my 2nd job, and THAT is part of the reason I have the day job I’m not lovin.

    The job is fine. Decent pay–enough to meet my needs–good benefits. It’s just not inspiring. The REAL perk to it is that when there is down time, I am free (I checked company policy and policy within my own work group) to do my own thing. Much of the time, that means I’m doing online promotion, but again–only when I have down time.

    If I did not have some of the obligations that I have in my personal life, I’d be content to work part-time and focus on my own business the rest of the time. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it–I go back and forth) I am a homeowner in an expensive part of the country, so just leaving to focus on my own business is not economically viable at this time.

    I’m grateful I have my job, and I’m grateful it doesn’t suck, but I look forward to the day when I can just do my own thing for a living.

  • A lot of jobs definitely suck, but a lot of it has to do with our attitudes. You can have a great job and hate it. You have a sucky job and love it. My advice? If you can get out of a sucky job, do it. Think about what you love to do and find a way to do it. If you can’t get out of your sucky job, find ways to do what you love outside of work. If you are stimulated and enjoying some aspect of your life, your job will seem a lot less miserable. Overall, try to be positive. It really does make a difference!

  • Paula says:

    My dream job just ended when the business I worked for closed. There were times when it was difficult but I always enjoyed aspects of it and was able to get a ton of new skills.

    Now I’m looking at starting my own business while I collect unemployment. And now that I’ve gotten over the initial shock of the business closing, I don’t miss my old job one bit.

  • Chris says:

    Hey Chris,

    I was thinking about how you did one video update last year and that was it. I was about to remind you to do another one. Strange!

    Anyways, I think there are tons of people out there who are working ‘real’ jobs and are loving it. Imagine somebody working for Ferrari for example! Or any of the team in Formula 1. It would be a passion come true. And there are lots of examples like this one. If you’re happy and satisfied with your life, it’s all that matters.

    Cheers.

  • Laura says:

    @slackermom: Y’know, it’s really odd. The legal profession has a lot of opportunities to help people, but most of the lawyers I know are unhappy with it. My father, for example; I’ve told him he should get out, and do something else he actually likes (like teaching), but he’s too addicted to the salary and scared of change. It’s sad to watch him do this to himself, but in the end, his life is his choice, not mine.

    A friend of mine is an ex-lawyer. He got out by way of driving a truck for a few years. Trucking companies will take just about anyone with a good driving record who can get a CDL. He’s now a trucking dispatcher — a job he says is in large part playing psychologist to a bunch of lonely truckers with relationship problems.

  • I’ve always found that video adds a nice added element, another side and greater dynamic. I will certainly be looking forward to more in the future.

    Design wise though, may I suggest that the video should be centered inside the post area to make it fit a little better?

    Thanks,

    Nick

  • Chris,

    Great start on the vlogging! As you get more comfortable with your Mac feel free to share tips! I’ve had mine about a month, and am constantly learning.

    I agree with some of the above commenters…..often a sucky job is a bad fit. That said there are some just plain sucky jobs out there! I’m working on my “escape plan” slowly. Also really enjoying your travel series’.

    Jess

  • Jenn says:

    Cool video! I think you’ve expressed the “general” consensus perfectly. While some people receive great satisfaction from their jobs, a whole lot us don’t and dream of the day we can escape.

    Although we all have our own unique situations and obligations, there is a way out for anyone who chooses to work hard enough at it.

    That’s the message I get from your posts. Thank you for the motivation!

  • David Cain says:

    I love the video updates Chris. Nice looking video.

    As I mentioned, I do work in a regular job at the moment but I feel very fortunate. It pays well, doesn’t stress me out and I have a lot of freedom. But I still feel a strong need to be self-employed, and will be within a few years. I’ve told my boss that I will be jumping on a plane to New Zealand in October and I won’t be coming back any time soon.

    Everybody seems surprised when I tell them I don’t intend to line up a job over there. Often I even get a hint of eye-roll. There is a pervasive phobia in society about not having a job for any length of time. I just don’t want huge chunks of each day cordoned off and handed over to someone else five times a week. It seems so unnatural to me suddenly. I’ll find another way.

  • Tim says:

    Chris:

    I recently discovered your site and so far I like what I have read. As someone who has been laid off three times in five years, I feel the urge to be my own boss. I want to go on the record by saying that all real jobs do not suck, but most of them (from my experience) do. My first layoff happened at my “dream job.” After years of looking for the right job and culture, I found the dream job (in advertising). Just a few years later I was let go. It was by no means the perfect job, but easily the best job I’ve ever had.

    After having been just laid off again (from a job that I did not enjoy), I feel the urgency to not just find the right job, but perhaps to create it. Thanks for exploring such an important topic.

    Tim

  • Graham says:

    I work in “real” jobs at the moment and they don’t suck. Three reasons i can think of are:

    – The work fits my abilities and motivations very well, so it isn’t too much like “work”.
    – I have one part time job and one casual job, both adding up to less than full time – not doing just one job exclusively is a big help, as is not working full time.
    – I work with excellent people in great environments close to home, factors which are just as important as the work itself.

    Unfortunately its taken me 20 years and two previous careers to learn what work suits me, and what doesn’t. And many years working for ***holes to fully value the environment and staff as much as the work. I also had to overcome conventional wisdom which tells us a “real” job consists of one full time job, preferably permanent.

    On a different subject – Chris please note that some of your readers have slow connections or download quotas which make watching videos impractical. One day everyone in the world might have fast broadband, but until then a portion of your readers will inevitably miss out on whatever you say via video. I don’t want to discourage you from using it (I’m sure it’s great for others), just hoping that it’s done in moderation.

  • Pat says:

    I want out as fast as possible!!! I feel as though the world is closing in on me at when sitting in my little cubicle. I find myself getting VERY bored and (shhh!!!) taking power naps in my vehicle during lunch. Even though I am earning money, it seems such a waste of my valuable time. I know, I know….why don’t I just quit if I hate my job so much? I do have a family that needs to be supported and I MUST work at this time. I am, though, creating a plan to have freedom.

  • Panzer says:

    Hi Chris

    Great to see you on video. I think having video updates adds another dimension to the words that you write in your blog. 🙂

    I’ve come to realise that it’s not so much that real jobs suck but there are many ***holes in various organisations that make the jobs suck. An experienced colleague once told me, work is work, but it’s the people around you who make it suck or not.

    I feel blessed to be in my current job in that the people are great and the pay is decent and I hope to stay on. But I’m also working on side-projects to kick in when I decide that I’ve had enough of the 9-5 (or 8.30 am to 6pm) office life and where it helps me transit to my next phase of life.

    Be well and prosper!

  • Leslie Strom says:

    I’ve been a Mac user since the mid-90s and have been using old ways without learning many new OS tricks. I always did like the right click on windows machines at work but never thought to see if Macs had come up with something like it. I tried the two finger tap function on the trackpad and… ahhh… what a wonderful tool! All the contextual menus appear like magic! I’ll use it all the time! Thanks, Chris, for attracting such useful people to your blog! Thanks to the Mac geeks for the useful tricks!

  • Wes Wages says:

    Chris… love the video updates… I can listen while working on other things!

    Hope Portland is awesome… tell Jolie I said hey!

    Wes

  • Just found this comic that kind of illustrates some of the issues raised by this site:

    http://www.polyp.org.uk/cartoons/consumerism/polyp_cartoon_Rat_Race.jpg

  • Sean says:

    Love the video update, it was a great intro effort. Not too long but long enough to get your ideas out.

    On the idea of “real jobs”, I can only speak from my mostly one sided perspective. It seems that many of us trade our time, i.e. life, in exchange for money so as to keep ourselves treading water in the shallow end of the pool. We put in our time, doing what we are told to do, and not utilizing our full minds/intellect/creativity. Then we get our pittance and spend it to keep ourselves from drowning until the next time it is doled out to us. We become wage slaves.

    I am extremely lucky in that my job is not what I would consider a real job. It is flexible enough that I will able to work while on the path of discovering, developing, and living the story life at the same time.

    Look forward to more updates. Keep up the great work!

  • John W says:

    I don’t hate my job but I do hate my career. I’m an artist in the video game’s industry and I must say that I’ve done pretty well on many AAA titles. After more than a decade in this industry I’m starting to actually hate my career. The fact is, everything I create is for someone else, and let me tell you, everyone has an opinion. So far, I can’t seem to find any other artist I can relate to. Are there any concept artists out there who simply can’t stand creating art for idiots anymore, or are saturated by art and want it to end. Please help. It is so annoying having to answer to pundit upper management and creative directors who simply have no clue what they want. And it is also annoying to be typecast as artist when we solve most of the art and game design issues while someone else reap the reward.

    I need a new career.

  • JimW says:

    A job that didn’t suck: I was the ‘goods handling co-ordinator’ for a large London Bookshop, which meant I spent all day in a windowless basement storeroom, lugging boxes, checking in new stock, and taking out trash. However those were not the reasons it didn’t suck – it was the people I worked with.

    All of us were over educated and under achieving, so we had that community sense of shared struggle. These were the funniest, warmest, sexiest and most nourishing people I have ever worked with, and thus it made that job the best I’ve ever been paid (not much) for. They made going to work an adventure everyday, and when I left (I was leaving the country), I felt a great sense of loss.

    Moral of the story: it is not the tasks, it’s the people that make it suck or not suck. Unfortunately, that’s not a question you can ask at an interview – “Will my co-workers delight or despond my psyche?”

  • Caged Animal says:

    No matter the amount of attitude adjusting, or changing work environments, some people simply weren’t meant to spend their lives in a hermetically sealed office, shivering from the AC even in summer, surrounded daily by personalities not of their own choosing; filling out paperwork and having meeting upon meeting where nothing that feels like it matters gets done.

    I despise that I have to do this, to the point where I feel physically ill most days. I have to stifle my true self for such a large portion of my life, and voicing my opinion will get me into trouble- hence the really awful pseudonym (the e-mail address is real).

    I have forced myself to do this for 10 years, and it’s not healthy. It is only within the last year that the cubicle-caged animal within me has started pacing relentlessly and screaming in pain: “This is wrong! You are not supposed to live this way!”

    Only recently have I been able to proclaim (and truly believe) that just because I don’t want an office job does NOT mean I am lazy; and damn it, I AM a professional, regardless of my desire to dye my hair pink (which I have never been allowed to do). When pursuing knowledge of my choosing, or a project of my own making, I will work long past the standard 8-hour block of time, and only want more.

    The crux is, how does one pay for food, a place to live, transportation, and medicine without “the real job?” Nobody tells you that in high school, and they sure as hell don’t want you to find out in college. That is the sole reason I didn’t pursue art as a path, even though I’ve always known it was the only thing that would ever be right for me.

    Now that the blinders have come off, the only reason I haven’t done it is because I haven’t yet assembled the pieces to accomplish the goal. That is why I am here.

    I made a wrong turn that lasted 10 years, and I’m turning the giant SUV of my life around.

  • Jen M. says:

    Caged, beautiful post. I could not relate to you more if I were sitting in your chair!

    The whole doing-what’s-right-for-us vs paying-the-bills conundrum is huge!

  • Jesse Curry says:

    Hello all,
    I really need some advice!!

    Well I am 38 years old and I have had several jobs throughout my life. Most of which have been in the Logistics / Warehouse field. I live in Louisville KY and it seems that all jobs in the area basically fall into 6 fields, Warehouse / Logistics, Sales, Food /Beverage, Truck Driving, Nursing and Sales. I have been checking job sights for a couple of years now and this is all that I really run across. All of my friends & family are in these same fields, so I do not have any fresh ideas / leads to go on.
    I can not explain the frustration I currently am going through concerning a career search. Yes…. I said career and not a pay check. At my current salary range” $35,000 yearly” I surely do not see me saving enough money to start my own business or ever retiring.
    Finding a career that I enjoy doing has really been difficult, if not impossible in finding.
    The “Work at Home” route I believe is 99% scams or it is going to be a $5,000 yearly opportunity.
    Following the “What I love to do” idea sounds real good, but in the real world those jobs pay about $8 per hour.
    I have thought about going back to school for one of those 2 year / 18 month courses like “Pharmacy Tech” or “Para Legal” but after really researching fields like these, there are very few of these position open and they do not pay well. I make as much now as I would if I had that degree and who knows if I would even enjoy the job any better than the one I have now.
    I am slipping into a depression over this! I feel like I am going to be 60 years old still stuffing boxes at a hot warehouse, on my feet for 10 hours a day. I think I understand now why someone takes a chance on doing something illegal to make some quick cash or just running a way to start your life over down in the islands somewhere.

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