Variety in a Spiceless Life

My best friend and I have wondered something  for a few years now.  How could our fathers work all their lives at government jobs neither of them really liked?  We’ve examined a lot of theories.  As gen-y-ers in our early 30’s, studies have shown we’re one of the most pampered generations ever.  That’s resulted in us being really productive and creative workers, but also very high maintenance.  We constantly need to be interested and challenged by our work, or we’re unhappy.  There are other theories too, but none of them have ever helped solve the problem of why I’m an amazing guy to have on your team when the work is interesting, but I struggle a *lot* to stay focused on bland work.

I’ve come up with a new theory.

I’ve known for a long time how sanitized our lives are.  My earliest memory is not liking hand-sliced cheese on my sandwiches.  I preferred Kraft american slices – all the same shape, size, and consistency.  Same with the meat – precut to the same thickness, and a prefect fit for the square, machine-cut bread slices.

But lately, as I delve into survival mode, my understanding has grown.  Processed food is always the same, and familiarity is somehow cherished over quality.  Think of a McDonald’s hamburger – not great but always the same, always familiar.  Air conditioning means most of us are only comfortable in a very small window of temperature and humidity.  Cars mean that something 10 blocks away and something 10 miles away provide an almost identical driving experience.  We don’t value short distances, fair weather days, or a really good burger anymore because we don’t experience as wide a range of quality.

This brings me to work, and the fundamental question: why do I care so much if my job provides variety and challenge?  Because I don’t get it anywhere else in my life.  I remember growing up, my mom had a list of  “A” meals and “B” meals, and we planned dinners with only 2 or3 “A” meals a week for budget reasons.  Now I only eat meals I really like, and there are fewer of them.  Good meals are now standard, and common.

We used to get variety and challenge out of our actual lives, not where we spend 40 hours a week to pay the bills.  The spice of life came from a sunny day with a cool breeze, or when the place you needed to visit was within walking distance, or it was taco night.  Bottom line, we’re asking too much of our jobs.  It’s time to let work be work, and challenge ourselves on our own time.  Enjoying what you do is still important, but be thankful for the boring.  It makes the interesting stuff all the sweeter.

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