I have been an employee for several years now. I have also been a freelancer and a small business entrepreneur. Over the years, I have heard good and bad opinions about "jobs"as well as "businesses". While both have their pros and cons, hearing about frustrations of being an employee and things that one does not enjoy in a job is quite common.
I had been pondering over the positives and negatives of jobs as well as businesses; employment versus entrepreneurship. The list below was saved in my drafts for quite some time now and when I came across it recently, I thought let me complete it and post it. This post is only about jobs, not for the purpose of any comparison. Just some things that I learned as an employee.
Things I learned on my job:
- Discipline: Wake up on time, reach the office on time, meet the work deadlines and complete the work on time. Yes, this applies to anything that you do, but jobs demand it. You get paid for it and you are evaluated for it, you boss may be keeping an eye on you to do this efficiently. You need discipline to do this and keep doing it day after day, year after year. Yes, jobs do teach you discipline.
- Punctuality: Not all organizations allow you flexible work hours or are lenient about your work timings. One of the first things that become a daily habit is time and punctuality. There are organizations that deduct your salary or mark you on half day leave if you turn up late by 15-30 min. However, not only because of fear, if you are a sincere employee or just because it is something expected of you, you tend to get into that habit of being punctual.
- Keeping ego in control: One of the most important things that I learned was to keep your ego in control. I am an employee, getting paid for my work, and I might as well perform and be happy. All anyone cares is about the job getting done, and a job well done always brings personal satisfaction, whether appreciated by employers or not.
- The value of money: I have realized the value of money. Yes, money is not everything, but without money, you cannot do what you need to do or want to do; you cannot feed yourself or your family; you cannot pay your bills. Bottomline is that it taught me the value of money. I also learned how much effort goes behind earning that money that you need even for basic survival, leave aside pursuing personal interests, passion, hobbies and indulging in luxuries.
- Multitasking: Do one thing at a time. Yes, it increases your focus and makes your work perfect. The current job culture does not allow that luxury all the time. Some of the jobs that I have been in required me to be on phone, work on emails, complete filing and sort through a multitude of things, all at the same time. Sooner or later, jobs teach you to multitask. Good or bad, it often becomes a part of your life.
- The importance of work-life balance: Your job is very important, your work and clients are important. However, your family and your life is even more important. One cannot be sacrificed for the other. You need the job to keep your family and you need your family to help you do the job efficiently and productively. Family is there by your side after retirement, through job changes and on your rainy days. I have worked like a workaholic and like crazy and have seen how it affects your health and family life. It may be okay for sort duration once in a while, but not on a regular basis or as a habit. The importance of work-life balance should never be underrated. It is important and there are no two ways about it.
- Savings: Jobs come with a paycheck, usually some fixed part and for some people maybe some variable part. You may be rich month after month till you keep getting your paycheck. The day the paycheck stops, you start wondering what next. Saving for a rainy day, retirement, family, sickness, vacation or anything else becomes an important aspect to be considered while you are earning. I have had my rainy days. Even if you are not a financial wizard, you need to save month after month from the same paycheck you receive every month while you have it. Even to generate passive income, you need either money or time. There is no magic wand for money.
- There are no free lunches: Everything comes at a price, be it time or money. Even if it may seem that organizations are providing some things for free, it is not free. You work for them, you spend your time, effort and energy towards making that organization successful. It may be their positive work culture, good organizational ethics, employee retention plan, and could be many other things. It is good on their part. But any job is a give and take relationship; they will only give you if you are giving something to them. Remember, it ends when you are no longer with that company.
- Love what you do: Do what you love, but more importantly, love whatever you do or whatever you have to do. At the end of the day, it should result in inner satisfaction, not turmoil or dissatisfaction. As they say, be dissatisfied enough to improve but satisfied enough to be happy.
- Jobs don't last, but human relationships do: Many companies I have worked for moved or closed or merged with another company. Mergers and acquisitions are not uncommon. I am still in touch with many of my ex-colleagues. Some turned out to be very good friends later on even when we did not continue to work together. Jobs don't last, but human relationships do.
- There are no perfect jobs, satisfaction is in the job done perfectly: There are no perfect jobs but satisfaction comes for any job done perfectly - or as close to perfect as possible
- No-one is indispensable: One of the hard facts you learn over time is that however much you or your work may be in demand, however perfect and recognized you may be in your field, you are not indispensable. Every employee has a place in an organization, but there is no one who cannot be replaced for work purpose. People come and go, but the show must go on.
Learning is a process that never ends. Every experience in life teaches us something, if we are willing and open minded to learn. Every coin has two sides and every 24 hours has a day and a night. Job or business, it is a means to an end. Fulfillment and satisfaction for a job well done is what matters the most to me.