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A Job is Not a Job

By Nan S. Russell
Posted Thursday, February 24, 2005

It only happened on Mondays. Sometimes I escaped the unpleasant ritual. But, more often than not, right before boarding I threw up in the ladies room of the train station. It wasn't the commute I hated. It was the job.

The reasons don't matter why a job I once enjoyed turned into a job I didn't. It happens. Bosses change, companies change, priorities change, budgets change, responsibilities change. Some changes bring personal growth and opportunity. Some don't.

What does matter was the lesson learned that stayed with me the rest of my career: a job is not just a job. That job I hated helped my checking account. But my confidence, creativity, health, energy for life and view of the world was not as fortunate. When the alarm clock sounded, my previous excitement to face a new day became cocoon-like behavior, both in and out of the covers, wanting protection from another day's battle. It was safer for those I loved to refrain from sharing important issues or concerns with me, never knowing how I would react.

How you spend a significant part of your day rubs off on the rest of your day, and on those you share your life with. Over time, it rubs off on your life. I'm not talking about temporary potholes and work hiccups that come with change or periods of work intensity, or the interim choices to increase finances, or the normal setbacks and challenges that should be dealt with at work. I'm talking about the long term match between who you are and the job you have. When you're in a job that's good for you, you can feel it. And you can feel it when you're not. I agree with Barbara DeAngeles, "No job is a good job if it isn't good for you."

You see, you can't be winning at working if you don't like what you're doing, where you're doing it, or who you're doing it for. If what you do feels like work the majority of the time, you might want to think about why, and what you can do to change it. That doesn't necessarily mean you should change jobs or companies. Transferring to another team, volunteering for a new project, or asking your boss for new responsibilities may be all it takes.

But, whatever it takes, you won't be able to offer your best you at work and get rewarded with interesting work, personal growth and financial rewards, if you aren't in a good workplace environment and a good position match for who you are, what you want, and what you have to offer.

I've worked in jobs where I couldn't wait until Monday. That's when I'm so excited about the new project or the new idea or the next thing I'm working on that it's not work to me. It's a challenging, interesting, stimulating and fun way to spend my day. And, I'm a lot happier when that's the case.

(c) 2004 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.

About the Author
Sign up to receive Nan's free biweekly eColumn at ( Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, small business owner, and on-line instructor. Visit ( or contact Nan at


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