Choose your drudgery

A lot of thought has been going on in the Woodsmoke household about jobs and career paths recently, not least because Mr Woodsmoke is starting a new job on Monday (it looks brilliant – let’s hope it turns out that way).

I find I keep coming back to an idea that came up in couple of tweets by Ben Goldacre a few weeks ago.

I was quite surprised by exactly what these tweets said when I looked them up, because in my head I had totally paraphrased them as a Guide To Life. What must you do for career satisfaction? Choose Your Drudgery. I’ve been going around telling people about this career revelation, which, in fact, is not really what Ben Goldacre said.

I still think it holds. I can’t really picture a job that is 100% wild excitement and joyfulness all the time. But maybe there’s such a thing as one that makes you contented. In most jobs (surely just about all jobs?) there are going to be mundane, routine tasks. And it makes sense that the job’s going to suit you better if those tasks are things that you really don’t mind.

I see it as rather like the division of household chores – I really could do laundry and load and unload the dishwasher all day. Doesn’t bother me at all. I couldn’t say the same thing about a wide variety of cleaning tasks (and, anyone related to me would note, tidying).

I’ve had a variety of reactions when mentioning this drudgery idea to other people. Usually a thoughtful ‘mmm-hmm, maybe that makes some sense’. But I did have one person suggest that it’s just a bastardised pessimist’s version of the more positive ‘follow your dreams’.

Well, given that I’m not a natural optimist, I think that’s one reason that it works for me. ‘Follow your dreams’, unless you are one of the rare people with a true vocation, seems like a massive challenge. For a start: which dreams? If you’re interested in a whole bunch of things, it’s tricky. ‘Choose your drudgery’ actually sounds quite freeing to me, because it has potential to be achievable.

What does anyone else think? A helpful concept? Or just another way of saying that if you like to sit in front of the computer all day you shouldn’t be a gardener, and vice versa?

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