I started the blog post I had set for this week. It was about using some of the creativity techniques I talk about to find joy in your workplace. I’ve decided to scrap it. No matter how I approached it, it felt inauthentic.
The truth is that I have never been so unlucky as to have to stay in a job I didn’t like. Over my career/s I have worked in theater and film, in retail (both enjoyable and not) and as a waitress. I’ve been a canvasser for an environmental group, a junior executive in a fashion company, and a skin care product demonstrator. I’ve worked in offices as a temp and as an administrative assistant connected with desktop publishing. I’ve been freelance, and I’ve been salaried.
The worst job I ever had was when I worked as telemarketer, setting appointments for the sales reps (horrible people at least in the office). Darkest two weeks of my working life! Best job? Not counting parenting, or my current life, it’s hard to say. My time as the Resident Designer and Technical Director of a small theater company in Sydney ranks right up there, as does every movie I ever worked on.
So other than that nasty two weeks, my working life has been pretty closely aligned with my core principles. It’s been either highly creative, or had a nice service orientation. I haven’t always been fabulous at my job, but I’ve never been miserable. Bored at times (the junior executive in charge of the mail order department was frustrating because it seemed like I never got ahead of the orders or returns – and it was just me, alone all day long.)
So I don’t really have a baseline of experience for giving anyone advice about how to bring creative thinking to bear in finding ways to be happy in work that doesn’t thrill you. I found articles about why people don’t enjoy their work, and strategies for quitting elegantly, or seeking new jobs.
Despite what people may believe about themselves, they DO have a wellspring of creative, original thinking inside that they can tap. We are all born enthusiastically keen to learn and discover, and solve our problems – babies are relentless experimenters, applying trial and error repeatedly, endlessly curious. That ability to make new connections that lead to insights is still inside all of us.
Creativity is not just for the arts. Creative thinking is problem-solving-thinking. One could argue that the “problem” in the arts is how to express ideas in emotionally engaging ways. It’s been a way of life for me, for so long, to design, to write, to make – and to know that even if someone was hard to deal with (that awful director that time!) it was only temporary.
I honestly don’t know how to help someone who feels endlessly trapped in their job, who doesn’t have the wherewithal to leave, perhaps because of their responsibilities like their family and home. I’ve always been able to escape, to find something better, to find work where I was truly happy. Indeed I continue to be truly happy as a writer, even if I do make wrong turns into literary cul-de-sacs every now and then.
So this week, no tweets with ideas for implementing anything in the theme – just tremendous gratitude for having followed a circuitous working path and generally having a great time.