"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the graves with their song still in them." - Henry David Thoreau
In 2005, over 11 million people tuned in to NBC to watch the The Office, a comedy about the mundane and seemingly meaningless work of the employees of Dunder Mifflin, a dying regional paper and office supply distributor. The show became a phenomenon and instant favorite with millennials who were coming of age in a time when jobs were scarce and they were settling for any job that would give them a paycheck, even if it meant a boss as incompetent and offensive as Michael Scott. This became the caricature of Americans’ modern view of work: a meaningless means to a mediocre end. A paycheck that allows us to enjoy the truly meaningful things in life from time to time.
A Breeding Ground of Dissatisfaction
You have a unique contribution to make to this world. And every day that you don't share it, you will feel a nagging sense of frustration, restlessness, and dissatisfaction.
Unfortunately, today's workplace is saddled with frustration and dissatisfaction. The majority of employees feel like slaves to their jobs, and life has reduced to paying the bills and living for the weekend. This is the new reality that shapes our current expectations of work.
Today people now choose their jobs and try to fit their life in the margins. And you work to maintain a lifestyle you can't enjoy because you are trapped in your office, strapped to your desk, and wrapped up in the repetition of a monotonous life.
The Sad Statistics
Gallup has been measuring work satisfaction for years. After two decades, 25 million people, and 189 countries, the numbers are out, and they're not pretty. Only 13% of people feel engaged in their work. 63% of us are not engaged, putting little energy into our work. The rest of us are actively disengaged, and actually just hate our jobs.
Work has become a source of frustration rather than fulfillment for about 90% of the world’s workers. Think of the social, emotional, intellectual, and economic waste that this number represents. 90% of adults spend half their waking lives doing things they would rather not be doing in places they would rather not be.
Not only that, but in his book, 48 Days to the Work You Love, career strategist Dan Miller tells us that:
70% of workers experience stress-related illness
34% think they will burn out on the job in the next two years
Los Angeles Times reports that there is a 33% increase in heart attacks on Monday mornings.
According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people die at 9:00am Monday morning, than any other time of day, or any other day of the week.
Entrepreneur Magazine adds that there is a 25% increase in work-related injuries on Mondays.
Male suicides are highest on Sunday nights, when men realize that their careers, and possibly their finances, are not where they want them.
To make matters worse, in the documentary Happy, filmmaker Roku Belic recalls the history of Japan, and its rise from the devastation of World War II to economic prominence. However, this commitment to rebuild sparked an epidemic that has become known in the Japanese culture as "karoshi," which means to work oneself to death. This trend became widespread in other parts of Asia. In South Korea, the same phenomenon is called gwarosa. In China, a variation on the epidemic, overwork-induced suicide, known as gualaosi.
Your day job may be hazardous to your health. The modern workplace is marked by stress, depression, and cynicism. We subject ourselves to corporate politics, office gossip, and other meaningless maladies that come from locking people in a concrete box for 8 hours a day.
"Working hard for something you love is called passion. Working hard for something you don't is called stress." -Simon Sinek
You Were Made for More
You were made for more than the monotony of a 9-5, or the predictability of mediocre life. You were made to do work that matters - work that uses your gifts and changes something for the better. And there has never been a better time in history to do exactly that. The question is, are you willing to work hard for something you love? Or will fear keep you working hard for something you don't?