I think you could very reasonably plot my income and overall happiness over the last decade and find they are two opposing forces. When income goes up, my happiness goes down and vice versa.
When I was 15 and didn’t really have much experience to think otherwise, I just thought “This is the way work life is. We all come to a place we don’t want to be and eventually we go home.”
Then when I started working at the State, this notion carried on. But the whole time I was just doing web work in the evenings and weekends, mostly for a little extra money, but also because I enjoyed it. What I enjoyed was the control and flexibility. I am not a person that likes to be tied to contracts. Just ask anyone who’s ever tried to lock me into a contract spanning more than a few months.
Eventually what did it for me is that “Sunday evening feeling”. You know that feeling. It’s how you feel when it’s Friday night or Saturday night and you think, “Whew. I don’t have to go to work tomorrow.” But on Sunday morning that feeling wanes and it becomes, “This is my last day.”
By Sunday afternoon, say around 4 pm, it’s, “I only have a few hours left, but at least I have a few hours left.”
And then on Sunday night, say around 8 or 9 pm, it becomes that hurtful pit in your stomach that says, “You’re out of time. You have to go back to work tomorrow.” That’s “the Sunday evening feeling”.
I hate that feeling. And when I started working in Connecticut I felt that Sunday evening feeling again in short order. That, among a whole host of other reasons, was when I knew that was the end of that.
I don’t get that feeling anymore. I have a workplace I can tolerate, mostly because it’s my own. But anyone who comes to work through my doors should never have that same feeling. If they do, I want to know how to relieve it.
It’s also for this reason that I recognize I am highly unemployable. Not because of a lack of skills or education (I have a library card and an Internet connection and I know how to use them), but because I just can’t handle working at a desk tied to arbitrary time shifts and perceived trading of minutes and productivity for dollars.
I recognized the stupidity of that when I worked for the Court. I don’t work well after 3 pm. I work best at 6, 7, and 8 am. But if you won’t let me work those hours, that’s your own fault, not mine. And if I do come in early, don’t look at my weird when I leave at 5.
So to any current or future individuals who work alongside me: don’t ever work your least productive hours and don’t ever dread the work. Because if and when you do, we all lose.