NOTE: I’ve been meaning to post this here at 52projects.com. It’s the note I posted at my other site, workingfortheman.com, about why readers of that site would be interested in checking out the 52 Projects book. It has some interesting bits of information about how creative projects helped me deal with my various job situations, and how they might also be able to help you if you’re like most people and your job has a way of getting you down every once in a while (or more often that not, or maybe even all the time). So here is the note:
I have had many jobs over the years, many bosses, many co-workers. I’ve had some pretty ridiculous work-related experiences, and I’ve done my best to write them all down. I always try to make them funny, give them a little bite. It’s been one of the ways I’ve tried to cope with how I feel about whatever it is that I have to do all day long, eight days a week — a way to battle the theme of "I hate my job," a pounding, relentless, pitiful mantra that does nothing but put me in a bad mood and make it so that no one wants to be around me, not even me.
"Quit your whining," some might say… "If you hate your job so much, then go out and get a new one." True, true, but sometimes, it’s not simply a new job that one needs to seek — it’s a whole new career. Not so easy to send out some resumes and move into a totally new field. Many roadblocks (go back to school? Take an internship at age 32?), money issues, sacrifices to consider — so many roadblocks that you get more stuck than you already are.
What about just those bad days, or those depressing stretches that last for some undetermined amount of time? You’re in a job that you actually want, or that you have no reason to be hating all that much, and yet, you wake up and just dread the idea of going into the office, and once you do get there, it takes all of one second for you to lash out at someone and set that grimace on your face to maximum, so that everyone knows just how terrible you feel (a rather pathetic display, and yet there you are, doing it).
Then there are those moments where you think to yourself, "I’ve been working at my job for a whole year (or two, or 10, or 20), and I’m not proud of a single thing I’ve done." This is one of those times, perhaps after midnight, when you’re being really honest with yourself, digging deep into your own thoughts and feelings, and it just hits you like an annual report across the jaw — The work I do at my job is totally meaningless. It means nothing to me.
I’ve had them all, and I know I’m not alone in experiencing these various types of feelings about the working life. Given that we spend so much time there, more than we sleep, more than we spend with friends and family, and so much of our energy is expended doing our workplace duties, both mental and physical, it is so very important to seek ways to manage how we deal with our work experience. Each person will have their own unique circumstances and their own unique solutions and strategies. Some will figure out how to get more out of their current job, others will work to find a better one. Some will find ways to write their novel on the clock, others will improve their ability to do less and get paid more, all the while conserving energy so they can focus on their dream project at night.
For me, the Working For The Man project has really helped me deal with many of my workplace issues, but it was not just that specific project – it was creative projects in general. Projects that I could truly call my own – that I initiated and then saw through to completion. These are projects big and small — from homemade cards to elaborately framed photographs to publishing websites. These projects helped make up for the lack of purpose that I often feel about my day jobs. Instead of getting angry and falling into the disgruntled employee trap (for too long, that is), or despairing that I was "wasting my life," I had my project ideas, my projects in progress, my projects that I had completed. These projects gave me a sense of self that I was often proud of. Instead of feeling like I was wasting my life, I felt like I was taking things on, growing, and getting closer to the things I wanted out of life. This attitude has, on my better days, revealed itself in all aspects of my day to day: in my job, my relationships with others, how I take on whatever it is that’s thrown at me (because it’s always, always something).
That is what my new book, 52 Projects: Random Acts of Everyday Creativity, is all about. The book is a celebration of projects and project-making. At its core, the book is about each person’s unique creativity, and how making projects can be energizing, fulfilling, and entertaining.
If you’ve enjoyed the stories at workingfortheman.com, if you identify yourself as "working for the man" (in other words, if you are honest with yourself, because as Working For the Man Rule #1 points out, "We are all working for the man"), then I do hope you’ll check out the 52 Projects book. Funny stories about work are just one of many ways to deal with all that you put up with at your job, and I think you’ll enjoy and appreciate how the 52 Projects book offers up some very engaging and inspiring ways to handle your own crazy, absurd, ridiculous world of work. (Note: Project #25 begins with "Wake up. Call in sick.")