CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUN. 30, 2014
version 8, draft 8

Are You Held Hostage by a Job Snob? 

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In all of us is an inner job snob. If you think you don’t have one, imagine yourself doing each of the following jobs for a full 30 seconds, and note how you react differently to each one: 

  • FBI agent 
  • Toilet cleaner 
  • Viagra salesperson 
  • Editor/Journalist 

The jobs I chose are quite extreme in their differences but none of these roles are intrinsically ’good’ or ’bad’. They are all positions which have good and bad points, and they are all ways to make a living. The point of the exercise however is for you to see how each role has different implications in terms of how we think of ourselves, and how we think others will view us.  

What we do is VERY closely linked to our perceptions of our self, our values, and how we want the world to view us as individuals. Some Career theorists actually liken our job to a ’role’ that we take on to tell the ’story’ of our life, enacted through the ’drama’ of our career.  

Family hand-me-downs 

What our parents do for a living affects what we choose to do. We are always, consciously or not, trying to be accepted by our parents, or fighting against our parental legacy. Ask your colleagues at your work place what their parents do or did for a living. You might be surprised to find that they did very similar jobs.  

Identity crisis 

The identity being closely linked to your job can be good, and it can be bad. If you have a great job which makes you feel good when you talk about it, that’s fine. But what if the worst happens and you are made redundant? Will you lose your feeling of self-worth, as well as your pay cheque? 

Another damaging element of the identity being tied to our work is in encouraging us to accept, or reject, jobs based on our internal value system. Ignoring what makes us happy to do what makes us feel is a ’proper’ job. 

What to do 

Being aware of your own inner job snob is a positive step. Write down the aspects that you think are ’right’ and proper’ in your eyes for a job to be. For example, perhaps you believe you should: 

  • earn over a certain amount 
  • work a 9-5 pattern 
  • wear a suit to work  
  • have a company car

These beliefs can be damaging when they get in the way of choosing to do what really makes you happy. You might have an inner job snob that thinks that working in an office is a ’respectable’ job. The belief could be so strong that it makes you commit to the office 9-5 for the next 30 years. Inside, you perhaps always wanted to be a chef but your inner job snob won’t let you.  

Fight back 

Our inner job snob is very much an internalised version of what we fear people think of us, and our life choices. Learning to accept yourself and trying not worry about how others judge you is key in finding a happy balance between work that you do and work that you enjoy.

We all feel good with a jazzy job title that we can pull out when we introduce ourselves to new people. However, if the truth behind the jazzy title is a daily grind of boring meetings and meaningless work, then you owe it to yourself to explore other opportunities.

 

Ways to get closer to what you want 

If the job you secretly desire to do is COMPLETELY different from what you are doing now, you will need a clever plan to get there.  

  • Research on LinkedIn - look up the people that are doing the jobs that you have always wanted to do and see how they did it.   
  • Be honest with yourself. Are you just working for the title and the status, or are you really enjoying what you are doing? 
  • Downsizing - if living your dream life with your dream job meant taking a pay cut, could you look at ways to downsize in terms of your outgoings? 
  • Are you ’paper’ or ’people’ orientated? Are you in an environment that suits your natural interests and inclinations? 

Reality check 

We all have to work; sadly, sometimes we are not in a position to do what we really have our heart set on. If you are financially committed to your current job and are not in a position to make big changes, try and realize your dreams in a voluntary capacity, by taking on an evening class, or adjusting your daily routine to include more of the things you enjoy. 

Recapture some of that which might be lost from childhood - a time when you could pursue your interests without a harsh critic judging your decision to go and play on a swing rather than paint an egg.

Whilst we can’t be kids forever, we can always do a little bit more of what we enjoy in our adult lives, and a little less of what we think we should be doing.  

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