Ep_011 You and Your Boring Job (Transcription)

Posted by Kristine Franklin

00:00:00 – 00:00:05 – Musical Intro

Kristine: Hello and Welcome!

Steve was a day laborer in the days before most people had a refrigerator in their house. A day laborer is someone who doesn’t have a steady job but goes someplace and looks for work each day. So every day Steve walked five miles away from his home to an ice factory and he waited to see if there would be work for him. He would wait in line and see, “will somebody hire me today?” Sometimes he got work and sometimes he didn’t. On the days that he got work, Steve cut ice, he hauled the blocks to the trucks that took the ice around to people’s houses to go in their ice boxes. It was a freezing warehouse and it was back-breaking physical labor and now and on the — at the end of the day he didn’t know if he’d have a job the next day. On the lucky days when he did have a job he worked all day and he got paid a dollar. He walked home and the next morning he walked that same five miles again hoping for work.

Now one day a job came up at a warehouse nearby and someone knew someone who recommended Steve for the job, because he’s a big strong guy and he jumped at the chance. Steve jumped at the chance to work in this warehouse. He worked every, you know, four, five-day week now and he had steady work. He was hired, he was big and strong, and for the next 37 years he packed hardware into shipping boxes, wooden shipping boxes for the most part. If there wasn’t a box that fit then he had to build one. He packed tools, Sporting Goods, guns and ammo. All of these things were going to be shipped to Alaska, so they had to be packed really well, labeled really well and they went in wooden crates to go be loaded onto a boat and to go up to Alaska by boat.

He joined the Teamsters Union and he made a living wage with benefits. Not a lot, but enough to feed his family of six. And when he came home from work, Steve wasn’t done for the day. He didn’t sit down in front of the TV. He worked in the garden or in the garage, or he built something or remodeled something. At one point he put his house up on jacks and built a basement underneath the house. He built on a porch, he built a barn and got a cow and some chickens. He built a huge garden. He fenced his property so the cow wouldn’t wander around and, he worked hard, he worked hard. And I know this because Steve was my dad. And in all the years I knew him, I never heard my dad say, “My work is boring.”

Do you know somebody like Steve? Do you know somebody like my dad? Of course his work got boring. All work can get boring but he had an attitude of gratefulness for the work. He also liked the people that he worked with, and he took pride in the work that he did. He made sure those boxes were packed really well, were well-labeled and he was proud of his work.

So what do you do when your work is boring, when you’re staring in the refrigerator and thinking, I should go shopping but I don’t want to? Or, you get the idea and you think, okay I’ll make a list but it’s just — it’s so boring. This isn’t what I want to be doing or you’re working in the office and sometimes it’s fun, but data entry? please, so boring. Paperwork? Boring. You know even TV stars spend a lot of their time sitting around waiting for their scene, or they’re sitting in makeup, or they’re getting their hair done or their being fitted for a costume. Queen of England, I’m thinking it’s a pretty boring job a lot of the time. Every kind of work you could do, every job has its boring moments. Some jobs have a lot more boring moments than others.

Well Alison Doyle is an author, and she wrote an article for careertoolbelt.com called, How to Make the Best of a Boring Job. I mean this is for anybody right? who’s got boring work to do. There are a lot of reasons you might be in a boring job, and every job has its boring moments. So here are some tips if you’re in a boring job or you have moments when your job is boring you out of your skull, that you can make the best of it, the best of a boring job.

First she says, number one, focus on the people more than the tasks. That makes perfect sense. Give great customer service, encourage your coworkers. Who doesn’t want to hear “nice job!” from a coworker or a spouse? Who doesn’t want great customer service and when you get great customer service, doesn’t it make you feel good when you walk away and say, “Wow they took that return so pleasantly. I was kind of expecting an argument or crankiness or they’re just too busy to pay attention to me.” What a great thing to get great customer service right. You know how that feels. So focus on the people more than the tasks.

Two, she says look around at your other workers, maybe someone could use your help. If you’re done with your task or you get yours done or your things are completed, you could ask your supervisor if you could help your coworker in need. Okay. Moms, dads, if you’re done with your work or you’ve got you know a little bit of time, take a look and see if the other person could use a hand, could use a hand? Help somebody out. If your work is boring, see if you can find somebody else to help. People again, people-focused.

Number three. Never complain to coworkers that your work is beneath you. “This is so beneath me.” Have you ever heard anybody say that, or have you ever felt that way? Maybe when you’ve changed your 50th diaper for that day, “This work is so beneath me. I have a Master’s degree.” Do your best even on the most mundane, minor tasks. Set a good example, set a good example to other workers around you. Set a good example to the other dads. Set a good example to your kids. Set a good example to your wife.

Be a fun person to be around, this is number four. Be a fun person to be around. Are you fun, even in your boring? Can you joke? Do you joke, do you have a good day? Do you make people laugh? Can you find ways to make other people’s — again, people focused. Be the fun person, volunteer to help with celebrations, bring the birthday cake, bring treats for the office, do something fun. Focus on the people, help other people have a good day. Think to yourself, “How can I help the other people around me have a great day today?” If it’s your kids, plan a surprise for them. How about a surprise trip to the park, or to the zoo? You know what? We’re going to have a good day today. You can do that by focusing on the other people.

Number five. She says seek out mentors. Seek out mentors. If you’re a mom at home, do you have an older woman in your life that you can learn from? Your mom, an older friend or maybe an auntie, or a grandma? Somebody that you can go to for advice to mentor and mentoring in your job of being a mom. If you’re a dad, do you have an older guy in your life that you can go to and say, “Hey, I want to be a better dad, I want to do be a better husband. Can you help me? Can you give me some tips?” If you’re in the workplace, look to those people you know, in maybe in a higher position than you are, an ask them, “Hey, is there anything that I could do better? Is there a way that I could work harder? Is there a way I can work more efficiently?” Ask for advice on doing your job better, and be super grateful for their input right?

Six, here’s a good thing to appreciate, especially if you go into the workplace and have a boring job. If you’ve got somewhat of a boring job, you don’t have to take it home with you, right? If you’re working at the Amazon fulfillment giganto warehouse, and you’re fulfilling orders all day long, when you clock out, you are done for the day. You don’t take it home, you don’t worry about, it’s not weighing on you when you get into bed at ten o’clock at night, eleven o’clock at night. Sometimes a boring and mundane sort of a job, task, can be good because you don’t take it home and you can leave it behind on weekends. Be grateful for that. If the boredom that you face is at home, then appreciate those times you can get away. Appreciate the long bath, appreciate the walk in the neighborhood with just you and the dog, appreciate the park, sit in your car listen to your favorite songs, appreciate the time away and leave your job where it belongs.

Number seven she says, consider freelancing. Okay, so you’ve got this job and it’s kind of boring no matter what it is, do you have a skill or a craft or something else you could do to start a small business? Something you could sell on Etsy, I mean go to Etsy and see what’s for sale, everything handmade, everything you can think of. Or do you have skills people would pay for? Can you build a website? Can you create ad copy? Expand your earning horizons.

Number eight she says, take a class. Expand your skill set or just get some kind of intellectual stimulation, learn something new, take a class of something completely out of even your interest zone, and you might find out that you’re interested after all. You might find that there’s a subject that grabs you, something, you know, in high school or maybe even in college that you would have thought oh, I’ll sleep through this class but as an adult, you take the class and you go, whoa this is fantastic. Take a class, learn something new and learn something that propels you on.

Number nine, keep a log of your work activities. Okay, it’s not a journal exactly. Just a list, a list of your work activities. What are the things you do in your day, and write them down. Which of those things make you feel energetic? I love this part of my job. I love this part of my job. Which parts of the job drag you down? And then she says, let the great parts of your job get you — keep you going through the boring parts of your job. The great part — there’s good and bad in both There’s a good moment when you have that feeling of I finished the project or I got that — all the kids in clean diapers, whatever it is, there’s a good feeling there. So let the good feeling stimulate you and keep you going through the boring bits.

And finally number ten. Make a plan for your next job if possible. Now if you’re home with little kids you know, what are you going to do when they’re in school? Do you have a plan? Do you have a craft you want to pursue? Want to learn to weave or paint or gourmet cooking? Or will you home school? That’ll keep you busy and it won’t be very boring. If you’re the breadwinner and your job is barely — and your job is barely livable, it’s so boring you’re just going crazy really — you just feel like you can’t go on another day, don’t be stuck. Make a plan, make a plan and start to work on it. It might take a while to get out of it. Start to work on it. What would you like to be doing in five years from now? Is it realistic? What could you do now to make it happen? Take classes, learn a new skill. What do you want to be doing in five years? Have a plan, have a vision.

So those are the ten tips from toolbelt.com. If you’re really stuck in a truly boring job, you can’t see any way out of it for a long time, there is something you can do. You can concentrate on doing your job with dignity like Mary and Jesus. Mary cooked, spun, wove, sewed, shopped, cleaned. This is what she did day in and day out. Jesus worked as a laborer in the heat, in the cold, you know building, working with customers. They didn’t have this easy life of leisure. They worked really hard doing what we would consider boring tasks, over and over again. Jesus supported his mom. And you’re called to do your work with dignity and thanksgiving and prayer. When God put Adam in the garden, it wasn’t just you know like the beach in the Bahamas. When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden, He gave him work to do. So work isn’t part of the curse, work is part of the garden. And get this, even boring work is good for you. Saint John Paul II wrote this encyclical called On Human Labor. He wrote this, this is a quote. “Work is a good thing for a man, a good thing for his humanity, because through work man not only transforms nature adapting it to his needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being, and indeed in a sense becomes more of a human being. He becomes more of a human being by doing work.”

So those ten ways to make a boring job better, no work horse or guide dog or water buffalo can do any of that. But you can, you can change your attitude. You are transforming the world, delivering goods, filling orders, helping people, washing dishes, answering the phone, changing diapers, checking blood pressure, building something, mopping the floor, raising the future generation to be good citizens and saints. Only human beings can do that because you were made in the image of God. Remember God worked six days and then rested?

Scripture tells you that God worked. Your honest work, no matter how mundane or repetitive it is raises you up and shows the image of God in you. And in repetitive work, you have an opportunity to pray. Have you thought of that opportunity? I’m doing this repetitive work over and over again, can you say an Our Father, while you carry out the trash. Or, “Jesus I trust in you,” the next time you check a patient’s temperature? “Thank you, Jesus,” for every diaper and don’t forget the mom who prayed the Rosary on her baby’s ten fingers and ten toes, that’s two decades.

Spiritual writer Fr. Jacques Phillippe, writes in his book Spiritual Freedom— Even when what we’re doing is genuinely trifling, it’s a mistake to rush through as though we felt we were wasting our time. If something no matter how ordinary needs to be done, and is part of our lives, it’s worth doing for its own sake and worth putting our hearts into it.

Challenge yourself. Don’t be mediocre, don’t hate your work, decide you won’t be bored. It is always worth it.

My dad retired at 66 and lived for another 32 years. He filled his days with projects and meaningful work and learning and reading, even when he was at the very end, when all he could do was tend to house plants, he was still at work. Ask the Lord to help you view your work the way Jesus did, through His Father’s eyes as part of what it meant to be a human being. And do every task with dignity. Your boring job just might get more interesting. Up next, four ways you can overcome loneliness.

00:14:58 – 00:15:00 Musical interlude

Male speaker: Who doesn’t love instant? Okay, maybe not instant coffee, but how about instant access to your favorite podcast? Get every episode of Hello and welcome delivered to your podcast player the instant it’s available on Mondays and Thursdays, or save up and binge, it’s your choice. Your timetable is our timetable. Subscribe today at helloandwelcomeshow.com. Hello and welcome, a Catholic podcast for everyone.

Kristine: Hello, welcome back.

When you’re lonely, it’s a lot more than just not being around people. In fact if you feel lonely, you can be lonely even when you’re surrounded by people. It doesn’t matter if you’re a shy introvert, it doesn’t matter if you’re an outgoing extrovert, you can experience loneliness and it can be crushing. Loneliness can lead to feeling abandoned, unloved, you can feel unworthy of friendship, unworthy of love. Loneliness can lead you to depression or over-eating, even pornography. So what do you do when loneliness hits, when it hits you hard and you feel like there’s no one to turn to, no one who will understand you? Ever been there? Ever been that lonely?

Dorothy Day was a Catholic activist. Now she worked on behalf of the poor, she promoted peace and non-violence, she was a key figure in the Catholic Worker Movement and started the paper The Catholic Worker.

Dorothy Day grew up in a very — pretty large family, five kids and her work, her activism, her associations put her in contact with a whole lot of people, surrounded by people her whole life. But Dorothy felt great loneliness, very deep loneliness. In fact her autobiography is a story of her conversion from a life of sin to the Catholic faith. It’s called, The Long Loneliness. Now Dorothy Day’s cause for canonization has been accepted in Rome. That means now she has the title, Servant of God, Dorothy Day. So how did Dorothy Day deal with her loneliness? What kept her pushing on until the very end? Because remember loneliness can be crippling. Deep loneliness can be crippling and cause despair.

Fr. Michael Rennier wrote an article at Aleteia called, Four Ways Dorothy Day overcame Loneliness, And So Can You That’s the title of the article. Quoting from Dorothy Day’s very own book, he points out that her sense of loneliness was there even when she was a little girl. She would wander around her neighborhood, she lived in Brooklyn, New York so it’s busy, full of people, full of kids, full of life and she’d be happy and she’d be thinking about all these happy things and suddenly she says, here’s a quote, “then the sudden realization came over me that I was alone, that the world was vast and that there were vile forces within.” Whoa, she would get overcome with loneliness in the midst of her neighborhood where there was so much noise and so many people. In college, she would wake up in the night and cry and cry because she was homesick and lonely. She said, here’s another quote, “I was lonely, deadly lonely. We women especially are victims of long loneliness.”

Loneliness is on the rise, loneliness is considered epidemic in America and in the UK. As many as 75 percent of Americans experience deep loneliness. So how did Dorothy, who started feeling the sense of loneliness so young, how did she go on to live and conquer that loneliness?

Well, the first thing she did and she wrote this herself in her autobiography, is she read a lot of books. She loved poetry, she loved novels, music. She found beauty in these things, and she found human connection. The Psalms were especially special to her, they were an outlet for her feelings whether she was feeling joy or grief. If you read the Psalms, you will find every human emotion possible included in them and Dorothy did. She found outlet for her feelings in reading and praying through the Psalms. She also wrote, so she wrote, read books and poetry and music, listened to music she read and prayed the Psalms, but she also wrote and her writing helped her to make a connection. Are you lonely? What are you reading? Does it lift up your heart, does it bring you joy, does it make you feel connected to humanity? If you’re experiencing loneliness, Dorothy Day would say, get a good book–a great book and read. And pick up the Psalms every day, pray through your loneliness.

As Dorothy Day was beginning to learn that a life of sin and selfishness is really empty, she realized that her deep loneliness came from the fact that she didn’t really know her purpose, she didn’t know what she was on earth for. Certainly not just for pleasure, she figured that out pretty young. She felt like she was adrift, she felt like she had no direction and then during this time she started to serve the poor. The poor, serving the poor and the homeless became her vision, her moral vision. So Dorothy Day would say, you have to have a moral vision in order to conquer loneliness.

Do you have a moral vision? What’s your moral vision, what do you live for, what do you give your time to, whom do you serve? When Dorothy was asked when she was a really old lady, somebody asked her you know, what do you want to be remembered for? And she sort of gestured over to the soup kitchen and she said, “I hope they remember that I tried to make good coffee for them, and good soup.” A moral vision is a source of strength, it brings purpose, it brings belonging so what’s your moral vision? Pro life work, helping the homeless, teaching the faith to children or teens? Is it home schooling your own children, evangelization? What are you doing to make the world a better place for human beings?

A moral vision could be the cure for your loneliness. It could be the cure. Dorothy found it to be a cure for her loneliness. The first half of Dorothy Day’s life was lived with a total absence of faith. She lived with several men, she had an abortion, she had a child with a man she was not married to. She says that the first 25 years of her life were floundering and insecure. But eventually she became Catholic but not just sort of your “Go to Mass on Sunday Catholic”. Her faith became part of her life not just when she was at church on Sundays, but all the time. She spent time praying, meditating and being quiet with the Lord. And in those times, Dorothy wasn’t lonely, even though she was all by herself. She was with the Lord, quiet with him.

If you think that taking on a lot more tasks, busyness, getting involved in sports, going to a club, joining a gym, if you think of all of those things are going to make you less lonely, they won’t. Filling your life with people doesn’t cure loneliness. Isn’t that weird? You think I’m lonely, I need people. But if you fill your life with people, it won’t necessarily cure your loneliness. Dorothy Day’s early life, it was full of people, all kinds of people that she associated with, that she hung around with, that she did activist work with, but it didn’t cure her loneliness. After her conversion, her loneliness became cured and eased by the various activities that she did for people. So she writes, we all have known loneliness and we’ve learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.

Now she isn’t talking about, you know, your neighborhood, she isn’t talking about your friends or the people that think like you or your Facebook group or everybody eats natural food, she said talking about that kind of community like a club. She’s talking about giving yourself away for the sake of other people. That community, the sincere gift of self. Dorothy spent her days with the poor, homeless people, drug addicts, alcoholics, people who had really and truly lost their way. She didn’t share their interests, they didn’t read the same books probably. It didn’t matter to her but she found and built a community, a community of people in need, people that Dorothy could give herself to, that sincere gift of self.

So are you lonely? Dorothy Day would say, stop thinking about yourself and think more about the needs of others. Stop thinking about your own needs and start thinking about the needs of others. She’d say that the only real solution is not an easy answer but it is doable, it’s within your power. There is someone who needs you. If you’re lonely ask the Lord to help you set aside your own needs and find a person in need. That may be the beginning of a whole new life like it was for Dorothy Day. Read a good book, have a moral vision something you’re passionate about, and finally give the gift of self to someone in need.

Next time on Hello and Welcome, how to be a really terrible father, also how to be a great father and email inbox. Subscribe and don’t miss a single episode, okay. God bless you especially if you feel lonely today, you aren’t alone, remember Jesus is very near.

00:24:34 – 00:25:00 – Musical outro

End