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Can a Mundane Job Ever Be Rewarding?

How do you feel when you start a new job? Are you excited, anxious, eager to learn, or a combination of all three of these feelings? Some people are so well trained they can literally begin their assigned tasks without very little instruction, while others may take time to address the newness of the job and try not to become overwhelmed.

Even if there is a learning curve, there is usually a positive feeling associated with starting a new job. This is especially true if the job search took a significant amount of time and was obtained out of necessity. But once you settle into a routine, learn the basic job requirements and expectations, and develop supporting habits, the job may become more manageable and enjoyable.

It is also possible that you may begin to feel as if this job is no longer challenging enough for you or it was not the step up in your career you hoped it would be. In other words, many people hope a new job will represent a new chapter or start in their career, only to find out it is more of the same. Or they find the promised or implied opportunity to grow wasn’t present or will not be present any time soon, which means the job may begin to feel routine or mundane. If this occurs to you, can you ever find this type of job or work to be rewarding, from a personal or professional perspective?

The Routine Nature of Job Tasks

Another reason why a job can feel as if it is mundane is due to the nature of the tasks. Any job can feel this way. It is the sameness that comes from completing similar duties or tasks, in the same or exact sequence, over an extended period of time. For example, as a writer or online educator, I am always communicating and expressing my thoughts via electronic communication, which means I can focus on the mechanical typing aspect of my work if I choose to do so.

What complicates this routine feeling for many people are poor working conditions, a lack of support from colleagues and supervisors or managers, a lack of recognition, or other similar factors. As time goes on, the mundane feeling can create an emotional reaction, often in the form of negative feelings. A person may also resign themselves to thinking this is as good as their career is ever going to get, developing an attitude of defeat, and never being willing to dream again or develop new career goals.

How Do You Love a Routine Job?

If you look at self-development resources, you may see a common theme that tells you to simply state: I have no reason to feel good, I just feel good. That is a very important goal to have; however, before you get to that point you must decide where the source of this feeling comes from. Does it come from the job, or does it come from within you somehow? In other words, is telling yourself “I love my job” enough to make you happy?

More than likely the answer is no as there needs to be a reason for feeling this way to sustain it in the long term. If you wait for your job to be the reason you feel good, you can become extremely frustrated if you find the work or conditions are not fulfilling or rewarding. This means your source of happiness needs to come from something else.

Recently I hired an electrician for needed repairs. This person could state that for 20 years all he has done is repair electrical wiring, or install switches and outlets. He could focus on the fact he performs the same types of tasks, and he has done so for a significant length of time. He could allow it to feel as if it is more of the same, and the sameness is mundane, which means it is not possible to grow, except to learn new skills or perform different work related to this profession.

In contrast, this electrician could focus on the outcome of his work. He completed repairs to my home that were needed, repairs I did not have the skills or knowledge to complete, and I was very appreciative of his training and professionalism. I am certain he has also completed many other home repair and improvement projects like this one and the outcomes were similar; people were relieved, happy, grateful, and thankful someone had the necessary skills to perform the needed work. Those seemingly routine skills produced a needed outcome, which means a routine job can still be rewarding. Those skills provide a necessary service, and result in a necessary outcome.

How Do You Find a Routine Job to be Rewarding?

If you have a routine job, or a job with routine tasks, you could focus on the sameness of the job you have now, or you could change your focus. I can accomplish this as an educator. I can focus on the task of providing feedback each week for student papers and the requirement for meeting very strict deadlines, or I can think about the opportunity I have to interact with students. I can insert canned comments into their papers, or I can take time to be present and involved with what they write, and prompt their intellectual curiosity and involvement in the learning process.

When I work with people as a mentor and career coach, I ask them to create a list of projects, outcomes, and results of the work they perform. I also have them make a list of some of the people they have interacted with, and the potential impact they have had on their lives. Even the seemingly simplest of actions, such as offering assistance to a customer in need, has an impact that matters. This applies to any career, even those who work in an office environment or what some refer to as cubicle world. I caution people from using that phrasing as it can have a demeaning quality to it. You are not a faceless number, unless that is a label you want to give yourself or your career.

You always have an ability to make an impact on someone else, or some aspect of your organization, with the skills you have acquired. If you feel stalled now in your job or career, it is time to learn something new or establish new career goals. You can begin with something small, such as finding an online resource related to professional development. You can also pick up a book, attend a webinar, or take a class. The more you learn and grow, the more you will discover the best of your strengths and abilities. As you do so, you will transform as you will focus not on the tasks you perform but the outcomes you produce and that is where true satisfaction and fulfillment can be found.

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