It’s funny how some days can seem to have a very heavy theme associated with them; almost like in a PBS special, and at the end some gentle-voiced narrator recaps the lesson of the day for an impressionable audience. Today’s them was work (not force x distance)
Early this afternoon I was in the car with my sister. We on our way back to the house after a writing/ working/ reading sesh at the her go-to coffee shop. Both of us are kinda socially awkward and so we have our moments of prolonged silence especially when it’s just the two of us in the car. I don’t mind it though (maybe that’s why we’re awkward). As we’re passing the only stretch of houses on the route that looks ready for Halloween (though based on crooked trees and flaking paint on the walls, something tells me they’re always partially ready) she asks me, “Do you like your job?”
It’s a reasonable question. I went from working with kids and tourists in an awesome science museum to reading and writing about viruses. From the outside it may seem that the answer is obvious; that relative to my previous job, my current one sucks. But I actually love my current job.*
While I do miss working at the museum, interacting with kids, and showing people cool science stuff, I felt like I had reached my limit there. I loved it while it lasted, but I was ready to move on. There was little to no opportunity for advancement there, at least that I would be compensated for. I didn’t feel indispensable (a la Linchpin by Seth Godin); in my role I could easily be replaced by any other cog and daily operation would function the same. Personally, I thought I added value and brought things to the table that no one else could, but in the end I don’t think value fully aligned with the mission of the organization. I hope it doesn’t sound like there was any bad blood on my departure. I love MOXI and everything I’ve learned and gained in my time there, and I wholeheartedly support their mission, I was just on a different trajectory. Like two lines that intersect for a moment then move apart indefinitely.
….We’re still talking about jobs right?
Ahem yes, so that’s kinda what I told my sister. In the Child Life class I took, I continued, we learned about flow, a state of focus and stimulation that also gives us a sense of satisfaction in our activities. If the activity is too simple we get bored. Too difficult and we get discouraged and frustrated. Flow is that sweet spot where we feel just challenged enough to feel like we’re making meaningful progress (in whatever form that may be).
My job is full of flow. I’m constantly learning and making progress for my future career as a physician. I have the autonomy to problem-solve my own way and pursue projects that I’m interested in. If I don’t understand something, I feel comfortable learning the necessary background knowledge on my own, and coming back to it. I’m not bored, nor am I frustrated. Sometimes I lose track of time because I get so deep into my work.
Beyond that my current job comes with plenty of perks (one being that I can work remotely), but that of course is secondary 😉
I don’t get those special interactions that I did in my job at the museum (though even that could get tiresome at times), but I’m at a place where I feel comfortable enough in my human interaction/ engagement skills that I can take break.
Then we talked about her job and about what flow looks like there and the role of human interaction in all of that. It was nice.
Then later that day I got into discussions about work with a few other friends, separately. Each one highlighting a different aspect of the idea of work. Thinking back on it all, it really feels uncanny.
I’m just waiting for the director to say cut.
*For those who don’t know I now work for a research foundation doing mostly literature review.