“I miss unemployment”

That’s the response I got from a friend recently when I asked him how he was doing. And unfortunately, I’m afraid he’s not the only one.

A bunch of folks in my generation have found themselves in a crummy position. Some of us are out of work and striving to get by. Others are employed, but in less-than-ideal conditions that cause just enough pain to notice but provide just enough comfort to keep us there.

But this isn’t true of all the people in our generation. Others have seen the tough conditions as opportunities to shine and thrive, and are kicking butt doing jobs the rest of us wish we knew how to get. What’s the secret?

But first, perhaps we ought to examine the attitudes my friend and others like him seem to have adopted. Missing unemployment. Missing not having a job title and description. Missing being free, albeit possibly broke.

When we were students, right or wrong, we were defined by our majors; as adults, then, we feel defined by our jobs. Our day jobs.

But although it’s second nature, the whole idea of defining a person by his/her degree or job description is the factory mindset at work. We’re all replaceable cogs in the big corporate machine.

You belong in this part of the machine, nowhere else. If you don’t like it, no problem – we’ll replace you with a different cog. And you can go find a different machine to be a cog in.

I think this mentality is killing us. It’s destroying our individuality. It’s stifling our creativity, our humanity. It’s making us hate work, which when you think about it, is kind of preposterous.

Work is the essence of the human experience. It’s what makes things happen. It’s what changes the world around us. Without work, we’d be like animals. But that’s not what we think about when we drive into the office.

The fact is, many of us still operate like parts of a machine. We learn to do a set of tasks, then we do them over and over again. We start to see our contribution as being a body in a seat rather than a participant in a mission.

Stop. Stop being a cog and start being human. If you don’t like where you’re headed, make a plan and change course. Find what makes you come alive and start working on that.

If you’re not sure where to start, let’s talk.

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