« Life is easy, if your life is not easy, you’re living it wrongly. »
Mod hosted us in Bangkok. When we introduced ourselves to each other and talked about our jobs, she told us that she had recently quit her job. And when we asked her why, the first thing she said was: « I am not a robot ». We immediatly knew that we would learn a lot from her about happiness at work.
Think about your relationship with your job
We were talking about digital nomads in a previous article. Mod had the opportunity offered by a previous job to get close to this kind of lifestyle. She loves travelling and has been to a lot of countries around Asia and Europe. Two years ago, she was working for a German company that allowed her to work from everywhere. She was the only one from the company living in Thailand. Her managers were in different locations, they were letting her work from everywhere as long as she was working well. What a freedom! She could travel and work at the same time. However, the fact that she was alone in representing Thailand also meant in her case that there was not a lot of work for her, so she started to get very bored. So, even if her job allowed her to travel, she quit.
After that she worked for a company selling a HR software, she had responsibilities in defining specifications of the software with clients. But the software was not adapted to them and she was not happy working for a product she did not really like. So she quit.
Now she has been working for a few weeks in an American company manufacturing high quality furniture. This work is very new to her and interesting. But her colleagues are very different from her. She wants to adapt to them but she also wants to keep her personality.
Mod is not afraid to quit her job if it does not fit her needs and personality.
And she is right! Discovering that something is wrong with a job after we have started it, is not the end of the world. Actually it is like dating. Let’s say you are single (meaning here unemployed). You have registered on a dating website, made your profile the most attractive one, and after hours of searching, you find someone who looks like the perfect match. You start exchanging emails, you finally meet and it is going on very well, so you start dating. Obviously at that time, you do not think that you are going to marry them. It is the same for your job, you made an attractive CV, found the « perfect » company, but after the interviews, when you are hired, you do not need to think it is gonna last forever, because you do not know them enough. If your partner shows a personality that you do not like at the end, you are going to dump them right? So if at the end your job is becoming not so attractive, because you do boring things and you do not see when it becomes interesting, or you realize that your boss only focuses on their career and you do not want to become like them, it is your right (and even your duty!) to quit and find something else, after trying your best to build this « relationship » of course.
Would you stay with a rich man/woman if he/she is stupid? Would you stay with someone who makes you laugh but let you do all the housework at home? Would you stay with someone who makes you happy only one week per month?
Before and during our trip, we met a lot of people, young and less young, who are unhappy with their jobs, but unable to quit. Actually we are stuck in some job because we were convinced to do what we do (without realizing it), we did not make any choice, the choice was already made for us. We were told that our strategy of life should be to find a job and do whatever we can not to get fired. Because people, educational systems, and the media tell us that the world is super scary and having a job is the only secure way to live your life… This was true in the 1930s, but now things have changed!
Everyone has their reason to stay or leave, and everyone has different priorities in their work expectations. I have seen my colleagues very unhappy at work but they did not quit, why? Maybe the prospect to have a great career or receive good compensations was giving them more happiness than me and hence they are happy enough to stay in their job. They are ready to cut down a part of their happiness to have what they were told to have: « a good career in a good company ». They put what they think they want in front of what they really want. But they do not even know that!
To be able to define if you are truly happy with your job and if you have a true, honest relationship with it, you need to take a step back and ask one question.
Mod told us about an inspiring man she met. His name is Jon Jadai and he lives near Chiang Mai. When he was young, he was living in his village and was happy, but with arrival of TV and consumerism, people came to his village and started to tell him that he was poor and that he needed to go to the city to have a real life and earn money. So he started to feel poor and he went to Bangkok, and worked very hard to earn money. He was working so hard for not a lot of money, so he realized that he was less happy in Bangkok than he was in his village. He went back in his village and built a new house, grew his vegetables by himself, and was happy again by living a simple life. He adopted a new philosophy of life, around this moto: « Life is easy, if your life is not easy, you’re living it wrongly ».
He says that we need four basic needs in life : a roof, food, clothes, medication. He decided to build his own house back in his village, with natural material. So now he makes fool about so called « civilized » people who spend 30 years to pay their house, whereas he can build a house in one month. He also started to cultivate his own rice and vegetables, and have his own chickens and fish. Thanks to this, he was able to be autonomous. He realized that he does not need so many clothes. He says that you can buy as many clothes you want, you are the same inside them, they will not change you. Finally, he started to learn how to heal thanks to plants.
He has done a great TEDx talk about this, and we recommend you to watch it!
Having watched this TEDx, of course we will not go to live in the countryside of Thailand, but we can at least focus on some of Jon Jadai’s inspiring ideas. On one hand, his philosophy and his way of living are very interesting. For instance, he shows that we do not need to consume so much to be happy. He gives a great way to fight our desire to consume: when we want to buy something, we should ask the question « Do I want to buy it because I like it or because I need it? ».
On the other hand, we feel that he does not have long term impact on society. He lives in autonomy and teach others how to do the same. But we think it is not compatible with the progress of society as a whole. If we go back to the time we lived in autonomy, our life expectancy was lower than today. We need the society to progess, in the areas of science, energy, etc. And individuals also need to progress themselves to be fulfilled. When you are alone, living from what you produce to live, you do not use your full potential, because you use your energy to do everything by yourself, instead of focusing on doing what you are good at and improve yourself.
But the most important point is that he asked the right question when he was in Bangkok, the one question you need to ask yourself : « Why am I doing this? »
In the first part of this article, we showed that you do not need to be afraid to quit your job. But how do you define if your job is doing good enough or too bad for you? By asking the « Why? » question, you go deeper in the reasons you do this job.
Why do you do this job? Is it because your parents will blame you if you quit a job? Is it because of money? Is it because you are afraid of what is going to happen next if you quit? Is it because your colleagues will not understand if you quit? Or on the good side, is it because this job is all about your inner philosophy and is in line with who you really are (and not what others want you to be)?
Getting the answer to the « Why? » is not easy. You really need to be honest with yourself and be ready to discover deeper and deeper the reasons of doing what you do. Take it as a game, ask the « Why? » question again and again until you reach your own conviction and not what others suggested to you. For instance, if when asking « Why? » you answer « because I have to » or « because this is how it is », you have reached a dogma from society and not your inner conviction. You need to go deeper and ask « why do I have to do this? » or « why is it like this? ».
We want to finish this article with a great quote by Steeve Jobs :
« Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle. »
We wish you all the best for your inner quest! And whether you are happy or unhappy at work, we are interested to know your answers to your « Why? » questionning! Don’t hesitate to share them with us!